While very bad things can happen to the human body with repeated x-ray exposure, laptop computers fare much better. Airport travel is often a stressful experience, so you may be concerned for the well-being of your laptop device you're taking with you. While you're justified in being concerned about your laptop surviving the trip, the baggage scanner x-ray machine is actually the least likely element of the journey to be a danger to your computer.
X-rays will not harm your laptop. While laptops and computer devices are vulnerable to outside forces like magnetism, they are not susceptible to radiation damage from x-ray machines. While x-rays are considered a form of electromagnetic energy, they emit light waves and not magnetism. Laptop-related data storage mediums like optical discs, flash media and hard drives are likewise not affected by x-rays, and your laptop will not pick up enough residual radiation from airport scans to become a threat to you.
While it's perfectly safe to send your laptop through the x-ray machine, it is not safe to send your laptop through the metal detector. Many components inside the computer, specifically disk-based hard drives, are prone to magnetic damage. Hard disk drives use magnetism to save data to metal disks, which can be warped or partially erased through magnetism exposure. Avoid taking your laptop through a hand or full-body metal detector.
Putting your laptop in checked baggage to avoid x-ray exposure puts the device at risk for other types of damage. A laptop sent through checked baggage may be dropped or handled roughly, which can damage the device if it's not in a highly protective case. In addition to the extra wear and tear that comes from handling, your device may be stored in an unheated compartment and exposed to extremely low temperatures. Sub-zero temperatures can damage laptop hardware.
The x-ray machine is preferable to almost every other element of airport travel. Airports are a high-risk location for getting your laptop stolen, so you'll want to keep an eye on it at all times. By bringing your laptop with you as a carry-on item, you avoid risks from placing the device in checked baggage, and by sending the device through the x-ray machine you avoid exposing it to metal detectors at the security checkpoint.
- Medical News Today: What Is X-Ray Exposure? How Safe Are Repeated X-Rays?
- Popular Mechanics: The Truth About TSA Airport Scanning
- Computer Hope Issues: Do Airport X-Rays Damage Flash Media, Floppy Diskettes, or Laptop Computers?
- PC Guide Care: Airport X-Ray Machines
- AirSafe.com: How to Protect Your Laptop Computer When You Fly
- MIT Information & Systems Technology Website The Knowledge Base: Q: How Do I Protect My Laptop While Traveling?
- USDA.gov: Security of Laptops
- Photo Credit aerogondo/iStock/Getty Images
What Does an X-Ray Show?
An X-ray shows an image of dense substances within the human body. These are primarily bones. However, an X-ray is also useful...
What Are the Risks of X-Rays?
X-rays contain many risks to the human body and cells, but at the same time provide benefits in the sense that they...
Harmful Effects of X-rays in Dogs
The effectiveness of X-rays as a veterinary diagnostic tool outweighs the potential risks of exposure to radiation. In dogs, X-rays are commonly...
Laptop Radiation Effects
With the world becoming more and more electronic, some may wonder if any of these new technologies pose any dangers, especially radiation...
Security X-Ray Training
Transportation security officers help prevent dangerous objects from getting on board aircraft. They do this by screening passengers, baggage and cargo, using...
How to Check a Laptop Computer With TSA at an Airport
Tasked with increasing security of the U.S. transportation system, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was formed after the attacks on U.S. soil...
How to Bring Vitamins on the Plane
Vitamin supplements take nutritional value from quality whole foods and put them into easily managed pill form for those who don't get...
Social Problems Affecting Students & Schools
Much of what goes on in society leaks into the school system, impacting students and their learning experience. Resolving and avoiding such...
Uses of Computers in the Airline Industry
Describes how computers are used in several important areas of the airline industry, including pilot training, ticket sales and aircraft operations and...
The Effects of Food Technology
The use of food technology or the application of food science to everyday food processes and production contributes to the ever-improving quality...
Effects of Temperature on a USB Flash Drive
USB flash memory drives are usually thought of as stable storage devices. When operated between 32- and 160-degrees Fahrenheit, the device should...
The Things Allowed on Carry on Bags for Airports
When you travel on an airplane, there are several kinds of items that you are prohibited from bringing in your carry-on luggage....