Windows 10 will soon allow you to pull out USB sticks anytime. In the age of external USB storage, one of the first things that new computer users are warned of is to “throw them out” before removing them. This usually means passing the “Safely Remove Hardware” option on Windows. Although this may have been the advice for generations, on Windows it may no longer be technically necessary.
Starting with version 1809, Windows 10 defaults to a mode that will allow you to remove USB storage whenever you want. The technical reason to remove USB sticks and hard drives safely before they are removed is to ensure that any unwritten or unsaved data is stored.
Failure to do so would result in loss of data or corruption and potential mechanical damage in the case of hard drives. However, Windows has functionality that makes it unnecessary.
If you interact with USB storage, Windows 10 can choose between two modes. The current default is Better Performance, which makes read and write operations fast at the expense of using a properly flushed cache before removing the device. This is the behavior that we have known for years.
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Starting with Windows 10 1809 update, yes the troubled update, Microsoft is flipping the switch to Quick Removal. With this mode, unwarned USB devices are always ready to be removed. The disadvantage is that system performance can be degraded, especially write operations.
Users who need performance over convenience and prefer it can switch back to Microsoft’s old policy. They’ll just have to live waiting to be ready to unplug their USB sticks.