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What happens when the user selects "Safely Remove Drive" when the drive is a USB Flash Memory device and what is the risk if the user simply pulls the drive without selecting that operation?

I am on Precise (12.04) and the drive is a USB 3.0 flash memory.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

When the user selects "Safely Remove Drive", the partition of the media (in this case the USB flash memory) is "unmounted" as soon as the drive has finished its current operation(s).

Then, it's safe to proceed and physically remove the USB stick, because the drive is "switched off".

If you do not "eject" the media, meaning that is still mounted (i.e. linked to a directory, usually in /media), and you remove the drive, you can corrupt the files on the USB stick, even if you think the system is not reading/writing anything on the drive itself. So my advice is to always eject it.

This is just a quick answer, you can also check this article:

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"Eject" is not the same as "Safely Remove Drive" in that they are different menu items. – H2ONaCl Aug 3 '12 at 10:26

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