Do airport X-rays damage flash media, floppy diskettes, or laptop computers?

X-ray of laptop computerMany users who travel or plan on traveling may be concerned about their laptop computers, or the media holding their important data getting damaged or erased when putting them through an X-ray machine at an airport. X-ray machines emit an electromagnetic energy, which is not magnetic, and does not damage or destroy electrical equipment or magnetic sensitive data. Below is additional information about each of the common concerns relating to computers and X-ray machines.

Note: This document contains information about X-ray machines. Taking a laptop, hard drive, flash media, or other magnetic sensitive device through a metal detector can cause damage. In addition to metal detectors if your laptop is improperly handled while traveling it too can cause damage. We always recommend users carry their laptops on the plane with them.

CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD+R, etc

All optical discs are not affected by X-rays and will not be damaged or erased when sent through an X-ray machine.

Computer, Laptop, PDA or tablet

Computers, Laptops, and PDA's and the components within them are not sensitive to X-rays and will not be damaged when sent through an X-ray machine.

Flash media (storage cards for digital cameras)

Unlike traditional film that can be damaged by X-rays, the flash cards used to store the pictures created by your digital camera are not sensitive to light and will not be damaged when going through an X-ray.

Floppy diskettes

Floppy diskettes are only sensitive to magnetic charges, taking them or a computer with them through an X-ray will not damage the drive.

Hard drives (external hard drives)

Hard drives are only sensitive to magnetic charges, taking a hard drive or computer with a hard drive through an X-ray will not damage the drive.

MP3 players, cell phones, USB drives, other electronics

Like a laptop computer, MP3 players, cell phones, USB thumb drives, and other electronics are not affected by X-rays unless otherwise stated by the hardware manufacturer.

Additional information