Can I simply remove a USB stick under Windows 10 / Windows 11 without losing data?
Whether removing a USB device without first using the hardware-safe-remove function can lead to data loss depends on a default setting.
Windows has two removal policies for USB disks: Quick Remove and Better Performance. As of Windows 10 version 1809, the Quick Removal policy is set as the default. In older versions, Better Performance was set as the default.
This policy ensures that a USB disk can be removed at any time. In this case, the hardware-safe-remove function does not need to be executed to prevent data loss during removal.
Disadvantage: With this policy, data is not cached, which may result in slower write speeds.
This policy allows faster data transfer by using a cache in which data is temporarily stored.
Disadvantage: If this setting is used, the USB device should be logged off with the hardware-safe-remove function before unplugging. This is the only way to ensure that all data is transferred from the cache before unplugging.
Changing the default setting
- Use the Explorer to find out the drive letter of the USB device.
- Press the key combination
Windows key +
x and select Disk Management from the menu.
- Right-click on the volume label in the lower half of the volume management.
- Open the properties of the device.
- Activate the Policies tab and set the preferred policy.
Note: The removal policy can be set separately for each USB device.