Do you want to know how to configure Windows so that you do not have to use the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon, to unplug external USB devices such as flash memory sticks or external hard disk drives? Is it safe to disable it and what is the performance impact of this choice? The answers to all these questions are covered in this article. Let's get started:
Using the Safely Remove Hardware option
When using a USB flash memory stick or an external hard disk among many computers, it happens rather often that, when you plug that device into a computer, you are informed about possible problems with some files on it. That is because you might have pulled it out without using the Safely Remove Hardware option.
Some of the times you encounter this prompt, there is nothing wrong with the files on the drive, and you can use them without issues. However, it can happen that some files are indeed corrupted. In that case, using the "Scan and fix option" solves your problems.
What can you do to lower the number of such prompts? Also, can you unplug the USB device (memory stick or external hard drive) without having to use the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon?
The answer is yes! Read on to find out how to get rid of using the safely remove hardware icon on your Windows computer.
The solution: enable the quick removal of USB devices (disable safely remove hardware)
You can disable safely remove hardware and eject media for your disks in Windows. First, open the Device Manager. You can do it by searching for "device manager" and clicking or tapping on the appropriate search result.
A complete guide with all the ways to launch Device Manager is found here: 8 ways to open the Device Manager in Windows (all versions).
In the Device Manager window, go to the list of Disk drives and expand it. There you can see your computer's internal hard disk drive(s) plus the external USB devices that you plugged in. Such devices usually have USB in their name.
Double click on the device for which you want to quit using the Safely Remove Hardware option. In its Properties window, go to the Policies tab. There you find two options: Quick removal and Better performance.
If Better performance is checked, it means that, while you might get better performance in some scenarios, you must use the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon to disconnect the USB device. Select Quick removal and click OK.
Now write caching is disabled for the selected USB drive (memory stick or external hard disk). It means that, once you are done working with it, you can unplug it directly. You won't have any problems. However, if you unplug the drive in the middle of writing some files to it, you are going to encounter the "scan and fix" prompt shown at the beginning of this article.
Do not hesitate to repeat the procedure for all the USB devices on which you want to disable using the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon. Windows remembers your setting even if, later on, you plug that device into other USB slots.
What is the performance impact of the Quick Removal? A quick benchmark!
In theory, there should be a performance impact for not using write caching in Windows, for external USB devices. We wanted to test this hypothesis and learn more about the performance impact. For our tests we used three devices: a Kingston DataTraveler USB 2.0 32 GB USB flash memory stick, a Kingston DataTraveler USB 3.0 64 GB USB flash memory stick and an external Seagate Mobile 1TB HDD connected through a SATA/USB connector. We ran CrystalDiskMark when the option Better performance was used (write caching turned on). Then, we checked the option Quick removal, which disables write caching and repeated the test. Finally, we compared the results.
The measurements performed by _CrystalDiskMark_ are the following: sequential read & write, random read & write - in 4KB blocks with a queue depth 8, 32 and 1. More about how this application works, can be found at [CrystalDiskMark website](https://www.google.com/url?q=https://crystalmark.info/en/software/crystaldiskmark/&sa=D&ust=1547651161976000). When write caching (_Better performance_) was turned on for our Kingston DataTraveler USB 2.0, these were the results I obtained:
When write caching was turned off (Quick removal on), we obtained similar results. There was a slight deterioration in performance, but small enough not to be noticed. Surprisingly, one read performance test improved when Quick removal was on.
What about our Kingston DataTraveler USB 3.0? It is a faster unit that may react differently to the change in the removal policy. These were the results with write caching turned on:
The performance impact of not using write caching was even smaller than for the first memory stick and some of the results were identical.
Last but not least, let's see how our external hard disk fared. When write caching was enabled, these were the results I obtained:
With write-caching disabled, the write performance was somewhat lower, while the read performance improved by a small degree.
The changes are not spectacular, are they? This means that there is no meaningful and noticeable performance impact when enabling the Quick Removal of external USB devices like memory sticks and external hard disks.
Conclusion: it is safe not to use Safely Remove Hardware
There is only one conclusion based on these results: it is OK to disable the use of the Safely Remove Hardware notification icon. It means disabling write caching for your external USB devices and using the Quick removal setting instead of Better performance. The performance levels are almost identical between the two options, and you earn the comfort of making fewer clicks to remove external USB devices. Let us know your experience in a comment below.