These days when we travel, we’re not just taking a suitcase and our passport. We’re loaded down with our smartphones, iPads and tablets, laptops and more. Did you know that when you travel with your laptop you should actually shut it down fully before leaving your house? It’s true! In fact, we have some suggestions we want to share with you to help make travel with your devices a much safer and saner ordeal.


We always recommend backing up, but we mean it when you’re about to leave your home and travel! Having your computer crash while on the road can be devastating and stressful, but not being able to access those files you or your boss need or the guest list for your holiday get together can be exasperating when you have nothing to refer back on. Leave the backup drive somewhere safe while you’re gone and if you’re doing a lot of work while away, purchase a second backup drive, like this solid state drive, and bring it with you for nightly backups.

It’s also important to know the difference between a “hard drive” (hard disk drive, or HDD) and a solid-state drive (or SSD).  SSDs, while newer technology, have no moving parts (better suited for travel) and the information is stored on a series of microchips, as in most smartphones and tablets. A traditional HDD contains metal plates on a spindle read by a mechanical arm, and are inside almost all desktop and most laptop computers (save for extra-thin laptops like MacBook Air).  HDDs are time-tested and are much less expensive than SSDs (by about 50%).


If your laptop has an HDD, we highly recommend you fully shut it down fully before you put it through the “travel wringer” subjecting it to a lot of range of motion. You can harm your computer if it’s powered on or even asleep when it’s being jostled about as you run through the airport, go through security, even when you’re putting baggage in your overhead compartment.  Simply closing the lid without a Shut Down will make it sleep / hibernate, but it’s still actually on – which can compromise the invaluable data on the hard drive.

One other point, regardless of whether you have a computer or backup drive that is HDD or SSD: we always recommend disconnecting your backup drive when not in the process of running a backup. We’ve seen external drives fried along with the computer to which they were connected from lightning strikes near houses.  We’ve also seen viruses move right from a computer to a connected hard drive – so best to minimize risk and keep them separate except while backing up.

Taking these precautions will ensure that you, and your laptop, will have safe travels.