Microsoft Gives Up on USB Removal Warnings

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is changing a default setting in Windows 10 that means it's now OK to remove a USB device without properly "ejecting" it from the operating system. It's an acknowledgement that many users simply don't use the "eject" feature.

The fact is, using the "Safely remove hardware and eject media" on the Windows task bar (near the clock) is the correct way to eject USB media. This method is necessary because of read and write buffers to the device are constantly active. If the buffers are not flushed before the device is properly ejected, it could mean data corruption.

Windows "Better Performance" Can Corrupt USB Devices

By default, Windows uses a mode called "Better performance," which utilizes these buffers.

In simple terms, it means accessing data on a USB device before it's actually needed, making it much faster when a user needs to read or write media to the device. The downside is that this pre-emptive access meant there was a chance the user might pull the device out while the buffers are still in use by the operating system. This meant that some files or folders - or the entire contents of the drive - could be corrupted.

Safety Move Brings Speed Penalty

With the most recent Windows 10 update, the default setting will instead switch to "Quick removal" instead of "Better performance" when it comes to USB devices.

That means Windows doesn't use the pre-emptive access, in turn meaning using the USB device will be slower. The upside is that it becomes fine to simply remove the device without preparation. (Source:

With newer USB 3.0 devices the switch to "Quick removal" may not be so much of an issue because the read and write speeds are substantially faster than USB 2.0 devices. For example, a USB 2.0 thumb drive may read and write data anywhere from 18 to 28 mb/sec, while a USB 3.0 device can write data from 80 to 180mb/sec (typically).

Utilizing USB 3.0 speeds is only possible if the system supports USB 3.0, the USB device is USB 3.0 capable, and the USB 3.0 device is plugged into a USB 3.0 slot on the machine. In other words, you cannot use a USB 3.0 thumb stick in a USB 2.0 slot and expect to see any difference.

Well-behaved users who want the speed advantage can revert back to the "Better performance" setting can do so on a device-by-device basis. They need to have the device plugged in, then type "Disk Management" into the Windows search tool, right-click on the relevant device, select "Properties" and "Policies" and then change the setting under "Removal Policy."

What's Your Opinion?

Do you usually prepare USB devices for removal or simply pull them out? Have you ever suffered corrupted data from doing so? Is Microsoft right to change the default setting?

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ed_cavanaugh_12140's picture

I can truthfully say that I usually use the safe removal icon. I can also say that I've pulled out USB devices without using the icon as well. I have yet to suffer from data corruption as a result. I have lost far more files due to the problems with Office 95 and office 200 0 issues than I ever could have via usb drive removal.

malper1942's picture

I have allays used the icon to remove my USB devices and will continue to do so. I do not find this action to be a problem. It only takes a mours click

PseudoGeek's picture

I hate that extra step. I use USB for file transfer quite a bit, and going back and forth between computers and having to fool with that additional step is annoying. Especially on computers at work - on those, the first time you click to remove safely, you get an ominous message that you can't eject the media. "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that. I'm going to have to keep your nice gadget and absorb it into the Borg." But click it again and it is happy to let you remove it. How generous of the computer to let me have my property back!

Glad to see they're changing it. Now if they would start working toward changing the hundreds of other non-intuitive things that have to be done regularly to keep things running. MS needs a department that's staffed only with those who are the family tech support gurus for their 85 year old relatives - everything about the whole interface should have to go through that group to be approved. Then life could be so much sweeter for people like me!