Unmounting a disk makes it inaccessible by the computer. Of course, in order for a disk to be unmounted, it must first be mounted. When a disk is mounted, it is active and the computer can access its contents. Since unmounting a disk prevents the computer from accessing it, there is no risk of the disk being disconnected in the middle of a data transfer. Therefore, before removing an external data storage device, such as a USB flash drive, the disk should be unmounted to avoid possible data corruption.
Several types of disks can be unmounted, including external hard drives, USB flash drives, iPods, flash memory cards, and disk images. In order to unmount a disk in Windows, open "My Computer," select the disk, and click the "Eject this disk" option in the left sidebar. In Mac OS X, select the disk on the desktop and either drag the disk to the trash (which changes to an Eject icon), or select "File→Eject" from the Finder's menu bar. Once a removable disk has been unmounted, it can safely be disconnected from the computer.
Updated: April 16, 2008