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How to Shut Down Your Computer in Windows Vista
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Remove a USB External Storage Device

Removing a USB external storage device involves more than simply unplugging it. To remove a USB external storage device, you must follow certain steps to ensure that data is not lost from the device.

Just as you have a proper way to shut down your computer, you have a proper way to remove a USB storage device:

  1. Locate the Safely Remove Hardware icon on the system tray.

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    The icon is different for Windows Vista and Windows XP. It’s also pretty small.

  2. Click the Safely Remove Hardware icon.

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    A pop-up menu appears (after a brief pause), listing the removable storage devices attached to your computer.

  3. Click the device you want to remove.

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    If all goes well, you see an announcement that the device can be safely removed.

  4. Unplug or remove the device.

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The whole idea here is that you don’t want to yank a storage device from your laptop before your software is done using it. Despite the fact that USB hardware can be hot-swapped, unplugging something that’s in use means that you can lose files — a bad thing.

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