We are all familiar with that irritated bloop noise a computer makes to complain about the way you’ve just carelessly torn out a USB drive without properly ejecting it. The computer seems to be screaming ‘No, master! You’ve gone and torn out a part of my soul. I’m bleedin’! I’m hurt real bad!’
But does it really matter when you unplug a USB drive without first properly ejecting it?
The short answer is; yes, you should eject it properly if you care about what’s on the USB, but most of the time it won’t make a difference.
The long answer explains why.
What happen when I properly eject a USB?
When you use a USB drive, you are taking and changing information on the drive. The way the computer does this is in bursts; it organises a bunch of things to be done, then does them all at once. When you properly eject a USB drive, you tell it to do all of the jobs on its to do list.
What happens if I just flippin’ yank that thing out?
The problem with just pulling a USB drive out without stopping it properly is that you may leave some of the data being written in an in-between state. That data will become corrupt. You won’t damage anything on your actual computer, but you do risk damaging what’s on your USB.
Is it the same for Windows and Macs/Linux?
No, it isn’t because Windows knows that you’re a rebellious little punk who doesn’t do what they’re told. They are aware that people just pull USBs out, so they disable the cache (the to do list) and make the USB to all of its jobs immediately. Many Windows have an option to make your USB drive ‘quick removal’ or ‘better performance’.