It is supposed that to disconnect a USB memory stick, the first step we have to take is to indicate to Windows that we want to do it “safely”. Of course, although everyone knows that, the truth is that nobody knows why it’s necessary; and maybe that’s why most people don’t do it.

But the truth is that this is not a Microsoft whim; there is a good reason to disconnect USB safely, but as nobody does, the company has decided to follow the game and completely change the way in which Windows 10 manages and uses USB storage.

The reason you shouldn’t just unplug a USB directly is because of the way Windows records information on external storage. To improve transfer speed, Windows 10 does not directly record files at the maximum speed allowed by the memory stick or USB hard drive. Instead, it creates a cache, through which files pass.

Therefore, when we make a change (such as modifying or deleting a file), it is not applied directly to the device; it is first applied to the cache, which is faster, and then to the device. In this way, it gives the illusion that the device is faster than it really is, and its slowness doesn’t affect our experience as much. The bad news is that Windows has to make sure that the files are saved on the device when we disconnect it; that’s why we have to click on “disconnect safely” on the taskbar or in the file explorer.

When we click there, Windows passes the contents of the cache to the device if it hasn’t already done so. If we don’t do that and disconnect the USB, we run the risk of losing data that was in the cache but wasn’t transferred in time.

But the truth is this is no longer necessary. USB storage is faster than ever, thanks to the development of new standards like USB 3.1. USB sticks are faster, and external SSDs are replacing external hard drives. Above all, fewer and fewer people are taking the necessary steps to safely disconnect them.

All this has led Microsoft to change the way Windows uses USB storage; starting with version 1809, which has already been distributed to most users, Windows allows USB to be disconnected directly. No more going through the menus to disconnect safely.

With this change, Windows no longer uses an intermediate cache when we use a USB storage. The data is transferred directly to the storage, so as soon as the transfer is complete we can remove the USB.


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