Flash: "Safely Remove Hardware"

I have a few questions some probably quite basic. Most of the time the “Safely Remove Hardware” item is not displayed in the notification portion of the task bar on my computer. This is the case even when I have attached a flash drive or not. I went into the properties and set it to always show but still nothing. Any ideas why this is or where else you can access this feature. I am running Windows XP 64bit. I have heard on vista that you don’t need to remove hardware you can just unplug it physically why is this?

It depends upon how Windows sees and uses the device. If it sees it as a removable device, it should not delay any writes, but should write to it immediately. I’ve only had issues with removable devices and having to use the “Remove Hardware” tool a couple of times ever. I even have SATA drives that I plug in as external drives through a SATA > USB adapter. Windows sees them as removable mass storage, and allows me to unplug them directly.

If you feel that you really want to use the “Safely remove hardware” dialog, there are a bunch of articles online about the issue: