May 18, 2017

Thumb Drive Removal Philosophy

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Is a thumb drive a medium of exchange, designed to be inserted, used (copied to or from), and then removed? Or should a thumb drive stay mounted on your PC, sticking out from the console like a tongue or tiny diving board?

Electronically speaking, it doesn’t hurt either the computer or the thumb drive to keep it inserted. You do run more of a risk of knocking off the thumb drive, which is a problem: Improperly unmounting a drive can damage the media. But otherwise, keeping a thumb drive attached to a PC isn’t an issue.

Philosophically, a thumb drive is used to transfer files. You copy files to a thumb drive, remove it, then copy the files to another computer. Or you keep the files as a backup. From that point of view, you can unmount the drive as soon as you’re done using it. Proper steps are found in my book, PCs For Dummies.

Also from my book: Don’t save directly to removable storage. Instead, save a file to the PC’s primary storage. After that, if you need a copy on a thumb drive, copy the saved file from primary storage to the drive. In fact, dragging the icon between storage media automatically copies, which reinforces this notion of removable storage for copies, not originals.

If you choose to run Windows ReadyBoost technology, the thumb drive stays attached. On my PC, I have 16GB thumb drive thrust into one of the console’s rear USB ports. I configured the drive for ReadyBoost and I leave it attached always. By keeping it on a rear USB port, I reduce the odds of my accidentally dislodging the drive.

The same philosophy or whether to keep a drive attached or remove it also applies to media cards. In this case, however, you can’t accidentally bump a media card out of its socket; media cards are inserted and don’t stick out of the slot beyond what you can pinch. Then again, media cards more than thumb drives are for transferring information: You remove the media card from a digital camera or smartphone to copy files, not to augment the PC’s storage.


  1. I, for one try to treat thumb drives like a floopy drive plug it in copy file, eject it (I am that nerdy) and us it else where. I think it’s more to do with I generally dislike connecting stuff to the usb port since I killed a USB bus on my amin PC by plugging in a camera.

    Comment by glennp — May 19, 2017 @ 7:32 am

  2. I have one USB drive that’s stuck in a PC for a while. I’ve just never removed it. Don’t know why. But you must be careful with them! I bet if IDC or someone did a survey, they’d discover that a majority of people just yank them out of the port.

    Comment by admin — May 19, 2017 @ 7:39 am

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