|SAFELY REMOVE HARDWARE - OPTIONS|
When removable hardware is installed, by you or preinstalled by the manufacturer, it is configured as either optimized for Better Performance or
optimized for Quick Removal.
Optimized For Better Performance means data is Write Cached. This basically means a removable device, such as a USB Flash Drive, is cached (has a special storage area/memory buffer for recording information) for faster Read/Write access. The removable device's cache (storage area/memory buffer) is used to record information about Sectors, Previous Reads, Information that may be needed later for Write purposes and so on. In others words. It makes the copying (saving) of files, from your hard drive to your usb flash drive for example, much quicker by reducing the number of Reads/Writes.
The idea of caching (recording information) first, as opposed to just writing data (saving files) straight onto the removable device, is so that writing can be done on the removable device at intervals that suit Windows 7 - Normally when the computer becomes idle or not too busy.
The downside of caching is that you can lose your data (i.e. files) during transfer (paste-ing/saving), especially if you suddenly unplug the removable
device and/or get a power failure. To cut down on data loss this option, Optimized For Better Performance, requires you to unplug the removable device
using the SAFELY REMOVE HARDWARE notification icon - Doing so informs Windows 7, and in turn any processes/tasks using that removable device, that it
should finish any Writes (saves) to the removable device before allowing the removable device to be removed.
So should you use Optimized For Better Performance? Well it depends whether or not it can be switched off (see Optimized Settings below), but in general I would suggest using it if it is available. I have never had any problems with lost/missing data due to using hardware with the Optimized For Better Performance setting switched on or enabled naturally.
Optimized For Quick Removal is the opposite Optimized For Better Performance. It disables the Write Cache feature for a removable device so that data (i.e. files) can be saved onto it straight away.....at the expense of more Reads/Writes, which means more wear and tear of the removable device in the long run. It also means you can disconnect the removable device at any time, without needing to use the SAFELY REMOVE HARDWARE notification icon, because it is assumed the data was written straight away.
Saying this though; Always make sure a removable device has finished writing data before disconnecting it, either by waiting for its light to go off (if it has one) or by shutting down Windows 7 (if you are in doubt). Removing a removable device whilst files are being saved onto it might corrupt a file and/or not copy all files.
|HOW TO SAFELY REMOVE A HARDWARE DEVICE|
If a removable device is optimized for Better Performance you should always use the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon to disconnect it from Windows 7. Disconnecting a removable device without using the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon could mean you lose some data (see above). You will know if you have any removable devices connected to the computer, that may or may not be optimized for Best Performance, because the Green Ticked USB icon (Fig 1.0) should be in the notification area.
If you know only one removable device, optimized for Best Performance, is connected to the computer you can safely remove it by right clicking (or left clicking) on the Green Ticked USB icon - This will bring up the Options menu whereby you then need to left-click on the menu-item that states your removable device. So in this example I have clicked on the EJECT USB DISK 2.0, which belongs to the Flash Drive (F:) device - My removable Flash Drive.
After clicking on the EJECT menu-item Windows 7 automatically disconnects itself from the removable device (software-wise) and then no longer recognize
the removable device as physically connected to the computer (even though it still is). The only way for Windows 7 to recognize the removable device as
connected to the computer again, once you have clicked on the EJECT menu-item, is to unplug the removable device and then plug it back in again. Or leave
the it plugged into the computer and then restart the computer.
If all goes well you should see a notification message informing you that the removable device can now be safely removed from the computer. After that the Green Ticked USB icon will disappear to denote that the removable device was successfully disconnected from Windows 7 (software-wise).
If the removable device you want to safely remove is being used by windows 7, a program or another piece of hardware you might not be able to safely remove the removable device. You might get the following error message instead.
If the removable device is suddenly unplugged when you are copying files onto it for example you will see the following error message. Reinserting the removable device and then clicking on the TRY AGAIN button should continue the copying process.
Whether or not Windows 7 back tracks, to copy again the file that may of been damaged/lost at the time of sudden unplug, is anyone's guess. This would depend on whether or not you used Cut & Paste or Copy & Paste for example.
|MULTIPLE REMOVABLE DEVICES - HIDDEN REMOVABLE DEVICES|
If you have one or more removable devices, configured as optimized for Better Performance, connected to the computer you simply do as above to remove each device. In this example I am removing my USB Floppy Disk Drive.
Not all USB Removable Devices are registered/associated with the notification icon. Some usb removable devices are managed by the Devices And Printers control panel, which is accessable by clicking on the OPEN DEVICES AND PRINTERS menu-item on the notification icon or by using the CONTROL PANEL link on the START Menu. Either method will open the Devices And Printers control panel window.
In this example my USB CD ROM (CD Player) is not listed on the notification icon menu-items, but is listed in the Devices And Printers control panel under
the name USB TO IDE. Selecting USB TO IDE then gives me the option to eject (remove) the USB CD ROM for example using the now available EJECT drop-down
Right clicking on USB TO IDE would of also given me the EJECT option, via the Options menu that would appear, but selecting in general has the advantage of multiple selection of devices and therefore the ability to Create A (Desktop) Shortcut for each device for example in one go.
|IS A HARDWARE DEVICE OPTIMIZED FOR PERFORMANCE?|
To find out if a hardware device is configured as optimized for Better Performance or Quick Removal you must use the
Device Manager control panel (program) and/or contact the hardware device's manufacturer if possible.
Fig 1.8 below shows that my Internal Hard Drive has Write Caching support, which is currently enabled (ticked), but it has no Quick Removal support - This makes sense because you wouldn't really want to unplug an internal hard drive when the power is switched on.....unless you want to experience a computer with a damaged/dead motherboard.
My Flash Drive on the other hand (Fig 1.9) can be configured as either optimized for Quick Removal (Write Caching disabled) or optimized for Better Performance (Write Caching enabled) because it supports Write Caching and Quick Removal.
Fig 1.8 Internal HD with Write Caching support only
Fig 1.9 Flash Drive with Write Caching and Quick Removal support
Using device manager to check which removable devices support Quick Removal and which removable devices support Best Performance you can better decide if it is safe to just unplug a hardware device (because you are sure it is configured as optimized for Quick Removal) or if you should play safe by using the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon. In other words, do not be ignorant and just unplug. This two minutes checking time, if that, can save you time and money.
By default Windows 7 periodically tells a removable storage device, such as a Flash Drive, to empty its cache (stored data). Or put another way. Windows 7
tells a flash drive: "Empty your stored (cached) data straight away - I do not want too much data storing up in case I crash/freeze or the power goes
When you select ENABLE WRITE CACHING ON THIS DEVICE cache flushing is switched on (unticked) by default. To switch off cache flushing tick the option called TURN OFF WINDOWS WRITE-CACHE BUFFER FLUSHING ON THE DEVICE.
Disabling (Switching Off) any kind of cache feature in general means things will be Read/Written to straight away, and not stored for later, which means your files get copied straight away - Good in case the power goes off or the computer crashes/freezes. However. Not so good performance-wise - More wear and tear of the device for example.
|WINDOWS WILL NOT RELEASE MY DEVICE|
If Windows 7 (Safely Remove Hardware) will not release (eject/disassociate) itself from your hardware device it could be that it is still in use by
another process/task (program), in which case you could try and stop that process/task (see the SHUTDOWN examples in the
Crashed / Frozen section for more general information).
If the process/task cannot be stopped, perhaps because you cannot identify which application/program is associated with (using) your hardware device, the best thing to do is restart or shutdown Windows 7 - A restart or shutdown is normally only needed when your hardware device (i.e. Flash Drive) will not stop flashing.
Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation. As stated here by the Microsoft Corporation.