The short answer is yes! It’s best practice to eject a USB drive before taking it out of your device.
Why do you eject?
Ejecting the USB drive properly communicates to your operating system (OS) to finish any pending commands it may be currently be working on. Not to get too technical, but computers do something called write caching. When you write to a file, your computer (Mac or PC) waits to fulfill all these types of requests at the same time especially when the requests come in smaller portions. Your computer could be writing on the USB drive and you not even realize it.
So, when you eject properly your computer will finish its process by notifing you when it is "safe" to take out the USB drive.
How do you eject a USB drive properly?
On a PC, you can safely remove a device from the Computer folder.
- Click Start.
- Click Computer.
- Right click the device you want to remove.
- Click Eject.
Will your data be ruined if you don't eject?
No, it is not guaranteed, but it only takes one time of taking out the USB without ejecting it to ruin the data that was stored on it, and even the drive itself. So, no matter if the USB is being written on when you take it out or not, it's a huge risk. Don't do it!
Make it a habit.
The moral of the story is to get in the habit of ejecting all of your removable drives, including an external hard drive. You won’t know for sure if it’s safe to remove them without ejecting, so just do it.