Windows 10, safe USB removal disappears

Safe USB stick removal has been simplified with the latest Windows 10 update. Here's what changes

The "Safe Hardware Removal" procedure for external USB-connected flash drives, although no one had noticed, disappeared with the last major Windows 10 update, namely the famous 2018 October Update that brought Microsoft's version of the operating system to build 1809.

No one had noticed because no one had told us: Microsoft changed the technical support page related to the removal of USB flash drives and similar peripherals just a few days ago. The new page says that now the standard mode of handling USB flash drives in Windows 10 is no longer "Better Performance" but "Quick Removal". The first mode was the standard option in previous versions of Windows (and historically has never been loved by users, who considered it uncomfortable). The second one was still available, but had to be chosen manually in the settings.

What is Safe USB Removal

With the "Best Performance" mode, in a nutshell, the operating system manages USB sticks with a cache and therefore does not immediately write all data to the stick when we copy files and folders to it. It writes them when the computer is less busy, so as not to slow down other tasks. This means that if you unplug the flash drive without doing the correct procedure, some data may not have been written to the memory yet. The safe removal procedure consists of writing everything that needs to be written to the stick, so that the user can remove it without any damage.

The "Quick Remove" mode, on the contrary, does not use the cache and writes all data to the stick immediately. This decreases performance, but you can unplug the memory from the USB port right after copying a file or folder to it being sure that you won't lose any data.

How to put back safe USB removal

Microsoft, in any case, reminds you that the performance mode is still available but it has to be activated manually on each connected USB stick. To do this you have to open File Explorer and search for the USB flash drive, then right-click and select "Disk Management". In the window that opens you have to click on the "Properties" tab and then select the management policy for the flash drive between "Best Performance" and "Quick Remove". Unlike in the past, with Windows 10 version 1809, you'll find the Quick Remove option preselected and not the Performance one.