How to Safely Disconnect an External Hard Drive From a Computer (the vibration factor a.k.a. the 4th step)

You probably know how to perform the approximate 3 easy basic steps it takes to safely disconnect your external hard drive from your computer, but you may be overlooking a final 4th step that many people ignore. By performing this better-safe-than-sorry 4th step a user can prevent damage to their files or premature death to their EHD (external hard drive). In other words, you really can’t trust the familiar Windows pop-up message that says “The USB Mass Storage Device can now be safely removed from your computer” when it comes time to disconnect the EHD.

Safely Removing an EHD: Go to the system tray located down near the clock and click on the safely remove hardware icon. Windows will then generate a pop-up menu. That menu is an actual list of USB devices that are connected to your computer. In this scenario we’re disconnecting a little piece of very fine jewelry which is your EHD. On that list you’ll see your EHD. Click on the EHD and wait for the pop-up message that says “The USB Mass Storage Device can now be safely removed from your computer.”

The final step: When users see the “The USB Mass Storage Device can now be safely removed from your computer” message they immediately, seconds later, disconnect the EHD from the USB port or the USB cable. That’s the wrong thing to do because it can take upwards of 15-30 seconds for many EHD’s to shut down. You can tell if your EHD has shut down by simply holding it in the palm of your hand. If it’s still running you’ll feel it vibrating. If it’s turned off there will be no vibration. Disconnect the EHD only when the unit has stopped vibrating.

This is important for several reasons. EHD’s have a high failure rate. Some of them are like eggshells. Many of them crash and burn and become useless 9-12 months after the date of purchase. I know one user whose EHD died several months after the date of purchase. I know the user did not have a dog who chewed on it, nor did the user use the EHD for a frisbee. The EHD sat glued to this particular users desk for 8 months including Easter Sunday in 2010, the day San Diego was rocked hard by a 7.2 earthquake. And then one day the EHD died, an early death it was. One reason for the high failure rate may be due to planned obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence is a strategy that allows a CPM (computer product manufacturer) to sell more units by implementing a certain subtle flaw into the design of an electronic device so it fails sooner rather than later. There’s no sense in hastening the death of an EHD by disconnecting it improperly. Better safe than sorry, make sure your EHD has come to a complete stop before you disconnect it by checking to make sure that it’s not vibrating.

In a future post I’ll explain why I once soaked an EHD in a spaghetti pot filled with water and the unbelievable details involving the day I predicted an earthquake. The prediction came true, the earthquake came to be hours after I made the prediction. In that post I will, with the aid of a qualified polygraph examiner, challenge any skeptics in the San Diego or Los Angeles area who thinks the details are untrue. Then again I’ll go anywhere the skeptic wants to meet if they pay for my travel expenses and the cost of a polygraph exam.