When It's Safe to Remove a Remote Memory Device

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

I copied a large important spreadsheet file to a portable memory stick, but when I examined the file later, I discovered it was corrupt and therefore unusable. What caused that? Although I love those portable memory sticks—they’re great for keeping my office computer synchronized with my laptop—now I’m leery about using them. Are my worries valid?

Assuming your memory stick is not defective, and you can easily check that by transferring another file and examining it— but not until after you read this whole item. I would guess you unplugged the stick from its USB slot prematurely—that is, before the file was fully transferred—and that corrupted it. Sometimes, because a computer is busy doing something else (such as an indexing task in the background), even a small copying operation may take longer than expected.

There is a way to be sure the file transfer to (or from) a remote memory device is complete. Before you pull the USB plug, check your toolbar for a little icon that shows a green arrow pointing down to the left at a 45-degree angle: That icon pops up when all file transfers to or from a remote device are complete and it’s safe to unplug.

RESOURCES

Keeping you informed and prepared amid the coronavirus outbreak

We’re gathering the latest news stories along with relevant columns, tips, podcasts, and videos on this page, along with curated items from our archives to help with uncertainty and disruption.

VIDEO

Excel walk-through: Sparklines

Want to liven up your spreadsheets with some color and graphical elements? Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D., shows how to use Excel sparklines, which illustrate data trends and patterns via small charts that fit in a single Excel cell.