How to Safely Remove a USB Flash Drive From a Computer

By Andrew Meer

When ejecting a flash drive from an actively running computer, you risk corrupting its files. To prevent this, Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 feature a built-in utility that automatically starts in the system tray whenever you insert a flash drive. This utility notifies you whether it's safe to eject your flash drive, and warns you if the drive's in use.

Safely Removing a Flash Drive

When you insert a flash drive into a computer running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, an icon reading **Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media** displays on the system tray. To unplug your flash drive, right-click that icon, and select **Eject USB Flash Drive.** If it's safe to eject, a notification displays **Safe to Remove Hardware.**If instead, the utility notifies you that the flash drive is in use, close any files or applications that you are running off the flash drive, and then try again. If a random process still prevents you from ejecting the flash drive, log off of your Windows user account, log back on, and retry.