What does the new Microsoft Windows 10 update mean for your USB Flash Drive?

Windows 10 May update affect USB Flash Drives

Microsoft Windows 10 was released in 2015 and is now the most popular operating system in the world for desktop devices. Naturally the operating system has supported USB Flash Drives and will continue to do so. However, there are some important updates to take note of that will affect your USB sticks.

You may not be able to update if you leave your USB flash drive inserted

The latest update, Windows 10 (Build 18362.30), is currently only available for a selected number of users. A wider release is expected to be rolled out later in May. It’s always advisable to update your device to the latest version of an operating system as soon as possible to benefit from security updates or any other improvements. Those who have had early access to the latest update however have encountered an issue whilst attempting their upgrade. That issue? On certain devices Windows 10 will not update if it detects a USB flash drive is connected. When attempts are made the following error message occurs:


Windows 10 May update error message USB flash drive


Don’t fret, your USB flash drive is not at fault

Upon inserting a USB flash drive Windows labels the device with a letter. Something you’ve probably noticed if ever you’ve viewed your connected Devices and Drivers folder.


Windows 10 USB flash drive lettering Devices and Drivers


Put simply, the latest update seems to mismanage this process and drives get assigned new letters. Whilst at first this may not seem like a detrimental issue, Microsoft have warned that this could also result in internal drives being reassigned letters. Something that could prove very problematic!

Thankfully, Microsoft have confirmed it will rectify this issue with an updated fix in the future. However, there is a more immediate fix for those who can’t wait. If you don’t need your USB flash drives connected constantly then all you need to do is remove the drive before attempting to install the update. Which leads us onto the other major update for USB flash drives when using Windows 10.

Needing to ‘Safely eject’ your USB flash drive is over (almost)

After spending over 15 years advising out clients to safely remove their USB flash drives we’re struggling to come to terms with this change. But, you no longer need to safely eject your device. You’re now able to officially just pull it out. This is of course providing the USB drive is not actively being used to transfer files, in which case we would advise waiting until any file transfer has finished or safely removing it as before.


Windows 10 May 2019 update safely remove USB flash drive

This change is all down to the a new feature for Windows 10 users called “quick removal”. This stops the operating system from constantly trying to write onto a USB flash drive, meaning it’ll only be in use when you’re actively using your drive. That’s one small step for your flash drive and one giant leap for flash drive kind.


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