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Ejecting external drives

You might attach a disk to your computer to back it up. You might plug in a USB memory stick to get files from it. You might attach your phone to your computer to back it up, load music, and so forth.

Plugging these things in to your computer rarely causes problems. The same can’t be said about unplugging them.

No matter what type of computer you use, remember to “eject” the things you have plugged in before you unplug them. By “ejecting” a device, you tell the computer that you want to remove it and to stop working with the device. Once it’s safe to remove the device, its icon usually disappears from your computer screen, or Windows Explorer or Mac Finder window.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, I never need to “eject” my Livescribe Echo smartpen. You can also unplug devices that don’t store data, like scanners and printers, as long as they aren’t doing something.

Remember, many modern phones are also storage devices. They contain pictures, videos, music, podcasts, contacts, calendars and so forth. Unplugging them from a computer before a synchronization process is complete might cause you to lose some of that information.

The following short video illustrates “ejecting” on the Mac. The same principles apply to Windows-based computers.