Do airport X-rays damage flash media, floppy diskettes, or laptop computers?
Many users who travel or plan on traveling may be concerned about damage to their portable devices, or storage media when putting them through an X-ray machine at an airport. As the name indicates, these machines emit X-rays, which are not magnetic, and do not damage or destroy electrical equipment or data that is sensitive to magnetism. 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. Improper handling of your laptop while traveling can also cause damage. We recommend users carry their laptops on the plane with them.
Blu-ray, 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 pictures created by your digital camera are not sensitive to light. Flash media will not be damaged when going through an X-ray.
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.
- See the X-ray definition for further information and related links.