I actually do have a usb hub but i don't think that my motherboard likes running more than 8 usb devices at a time for too long.. it really creates problems, so that's why i've been trying out hot swapping. plus there's times where i just want to plug in my thumb drive for a quick second to transfer something, not necessarily keep it plugged in 24/7.
Almost seems to be some issue with your computer.
funny you say that, because i have 3 externals plugged into the back of my computer and 1 in the front. the front external never has any problems (unless i try to hot swap it ofcourse), but the back 3 will all randomly stop working at the same time. like the whole thing is getting overloaded (but everything that isn't a hard drive keeps working) so it does seem to lead to being a problem with my computer, but everything runs perfectly in windows. maybe one of the drivers in linux can't handle my computer properly and just crashes?
and for the record it's only hard drives that seem to have this hot swapping problem, i unplug mice and headsets and all that kind of stuff and plug them back in with no problem whatsoever.
i'm in the process of installing arch atm i'll look into mtab tomorrow once it's all up and running. thanks for the suggestion!