Windows 10 Now Makes Quick USB Drive Pulls Safer, With A Catch

USB Flash Drive
Microsoft has made a minor but, for some, welcome change to the default manner in which Windows 10 handles external storage devices such as USB thumb drives. Effective with the October 2018 Update for Windows 10 (build 1809), the OS defaults to a "Quick removal" option that allows you to yank a USB flash drive from your PC with reckless abandon, like you were probably already doing anyway.

The difference, however, is that the Quick removal option is a safer way of extracting a removable storage device, versus the previous default of "Better performance." It also should prevent Windows from wanting to scan your device to fix any errors the next time you plug it in, if you did not go through the proper process of clicking on the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the system tray beforehand.

USB Policies

This is not a new option, but what is different now is that it is enabled by default, for convenience. There is a catch, though.

"This policy manages storage operations in a manner that keeps the device ready to remove at any time. You can remove the device without using the Safely Remove Hardware process. However, to do this, Windows cannot cache disk write operations. This may degrade system performance," Microsoft states in a support document.

Enabling the Better performance option allows Windows to cache write operations to the external device, but doing so also means you are supposed to use the Safely Remove Hardware process every time you yank a USB flash drive from your PC.

"The Safely Remove Hardware process protects the integrity of data on the device by making sure that all cached operations finish," Microsoft explains.

Of course, if you're like me, you have been living life on the edge. pulling USB thumb drives out of Windows PCs, driving 70 MPH in a 65 MPH zone, and other rebel behavior. We have all lived to tell about it.

Disk Management

If you are not ready for such things, though, you can change how Windows 10 handles your USB devices. To do so, plug in your external drive, then right-click on Start and select Disk Management. Right-click on your drive, select Properties, then click on the Policies tab. From there, you can switch back to the Better performance option.