When connecting a storage device or removable drive (aka Flash Drive, Jump Drive, USB Drive, External Hard Drive) to your computer, once you are finished using it (saving data or other files) - you must use the "Safely Remove" option or you will risk losing or possibly corrupting the information you stored on the device.
Most of the time, if you just unplug it from the computer you will be safe as long as the information you saved has finished saving. Some flash drives or external hard drives have a light on them - which shows it is in use. When the light finishes flashing most likely it is safe to unplug or remove the device.
But, to be real safe, if you see the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the notification area (at the far right of the tasbar - bottom right corner, just left of the date and time), you can use this to remove the device by clicking on the icon and clicking "Safely Remove" and then clicking accordingly in the next window - it will then give you a message that it is now safe to remove and you can remove your external device.
After you take pictures with your digital camera, you may want to copy the pictures from your camera to your personal computer so you can print them, share them with others, and back them up for safe keeping. Once your pictures are on your computer, you can erase them from your camera, freeing up memory so you can take more pictures. You can also view your pictures on a larger screen and decide which ones are worth keeping.
Some digital cameras come with software that helps you copy pictures from your camera to your computer. You can use this software, but you don't have to. Windows XP can copy pictures to your computer without requiring additional software. Here's how to copy your pictures using Windows XP:
1. First connect your digital camera to your computer.
You can do this in two different ways:
• Use a USB cable. Most digital cameras come with a cable that connects the camera to a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port on your computer.
• Use a memory card and memory card reader. A memory card reader is a piece of hardware that plugs right into your computer. You remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into your memory card reader, similar to the way you might transfer a file between two computers using a floppy disk.
Tip: It's usually faster to use a memory card reader to copy your pictures than to connect your camera to your computer with a cable.
2. Once you've connected your camera to your computer or inserted your memory card into your memory card reader, Windows XP will detect the connection and ask you what you want to do with your pictures. If you connected your camera with a USB cable, click Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard, and then click OK.
If you are using a memory card reader, click Copy pictures to a folder on my computer using Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard, and then click OK.
3. When the Scanner and Camera Wizard appears, click Next.
4. All of the pictures on your camera (or in your camera's memory card) are now displayed on the Choose Pictures to Copy page. By default, Windows XP selects all of the pictures for downloading. If there are pictures you do not want to download, just clear the check box next to those pictures. At this stage, you can also rotate pictures that you took while holding your camera vertically. To rotate a picture, click it, and then click either the Rotate clockwise or Rotate counterclockwise button on the lower-left side of the page. When you have reviewed the pictures for downloading and rotated your vertical pictures, click Next.
5. On the Picture Name and Destination page, type a name for the group of pictures. (This name, plus a number to differentiate each picture, will be applied to each of the pictures you download; for example, if you name the group "Vacation," the pictures will be named "Vacation001," "Vacation002," and so on.) Click Browse, and select a folder in which to save your pictures.
Tip: Create a new folder for each group of pictures you download.
6. If you want to erase the images from your camera's memory card to make space for new ones, select the Delete pictures from my device after copying them check box, and then click Next. The Scanner and Camera Wizard copies the pictures from your camera to the folder you specified and then removes the pictures from your camera's memory card.
7. On the Other Options page, you can choose to publish your pictures to a Web site or order prints. If you have finished working with your pictures, click Nothing, and then click Next.
8. On the final page of the wizard, click Finish. Windows XP opens a Windows Explorer window showing the pictures you downloaded from your camera. Your camera's memory card is now clean and ready to store new pictures. If you connected your camera to your computer using a USB cable, disconnect your camera. If you used a memory card reader, return the memory card to the camera.
Your photos are now stored on your computer, ready for whatever you want to do with them, and your camera is ready to take more pictures. As with any important files, it's a good idea to make backup copies of your photos, in case anything happens to your computer.
The above information was obtained from Microsoft at the following link: