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:
Locate the Safely Remove Hardware icon on the system tray.
The icon is different for Windows Vista and Windows XP. It’s also pretty small.
Click the Safely Remove Hardware icon.
A pop-up menu appears (after a brief pause), listing the removable storage devices attached to your computer.
Click the device you want to remove.
If all goes well, you see an announcement that the device can be safely removed.
Unplug or remove the device.
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.