I remember when USB flash drives first came out – I thought “what a gimmick – who would use that?”. How wrong I was! Now just about everyone has one, because they are one of the easiest ways to carry computer files with you. And like everything else related to computers, they are getting better – and cheaper – all the time.
There is something important to remember when you are using your flash drive. When you are finished with whatever you are doing, you cannot just pull it out. Well, you can, but you are risking damaging the data if you do it that way. If you just pull the drive out of the USB port without the proper preparation, you are sort of “surprising” the computer by its removal. The computer doesn’t like surprises.
Before you physically remove the flash drive, open My Computer and see what drive letter the flash drive is using (once you know that, you can close the My Computer window).
Then, look in the System Tray (the lower right corner of your screen). Move your mouse over the icons until you see one that displays the words “Safely Remove Hardware”. Double click on that icon.
In the new window that appears, you should see some drives listed (and some other things that are plugged into USB ports, such as your printer or mouse or keyboard). Your flash drive probably is listed like “USB Mass Storage Device” or something similar. There should be a box near the bottom of the window that says “Display device components” and you will see exactly what drives are connected to your computer. Click once to highlight the flash drive, then click on the Stop button.
When you see the message appear in the lower right that says you can now safely remove the device, that’s when you can actually pull the drive out of the USB port.