ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS Ending years of debate, Microsoft has released an update to Windows 10 that results in users no longer needing to hit the ‘safely remove USB device’ option when ejecting a device from the computer.
Courtesy Window’s new ‘quick removal’ feature, which will be enabled on USB devices by default after the update, a drive can be ‘safely’ ejected any time provided it is not currently being used to write files onto. In essence, this has always been the case as a device only stands a chance of damage if its power supply is cut in the middle of the act of writing files.
There have been many memes that there are two kinds of computer users—those who safely remove their USB devices and those who do not. The former have grown so habituated to the act that it is almost second nature. Interestingly, an academic paper demonstrating a method for hackers to infect a user’s computer—a risky and possibly illegal operation—suggests using the safely remove feature as step 3 of a nine-step operation, where step 2 involves infecting the target’s PC with a virus. It goes to show that even hackers can be wary of damaging their devices.
The Windows update doesn’t bring new technology to the table. Rather, it enables an option by default, one that used to exist and that was used by users familiar with the device manager. In essence, users had a choice of enabling or disabling “write caching”, which is a program that writes files to the flash drive in the background without the user being made aware of it visually. USB devices do this by copying files to a temporary ‘volatile’ memory source within them that is usually fast at making transfers. Following the copy here, the files are transferred to the permanent storage device in the background—after the user is told that the file has already been copied. Thus, with write caching enabled, you might see the progress bar complete and assume that your flash drive has done its job—but if you then eject it manually you could interrupt the write cycle and cause damage to the data.
Write caching is not usually enabled by default on Windows devices, though it is on Mac products. This means that if you are an Apple user, you are still going to want to safely eject your devices before pulling them out.