How Do I Travel With An External Hard Drive?

So how do I travel with an external hard drive? And do airports check external hard drives?

Traveling with sensitive files and electronics like external hard drives will need some advanced security and protection.

If this is your first time traveling with an external hard drive, you’ve come to the right place, because we will answer all your questions about traveling with hard drives on planes, how to protect them and what to expect at the airport security checkpoint.

Here is the short answer: External hard drives are allowed on most airlines in both carry on and check in luggage without any restrictions, however, it is recommended that you take your hard drives or any other electronics inside your carry on bag or personal item, taking hard drives, gadgets or other fragile items in checked luggage are not guaranteed that they will remain safe and undamaged.

Let’s dive right in.

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Seagate Portable 5TB External Hard Drive HDD / Courtesy of Amazon

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Take external hard drive through the security checkpoint

According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) you are permitted to bring external hard drives or any computer parts in general through the security checkpoint without any problem.


The TSA agent may ask you to remove your external hard drive form your bag an d place it with your electronics in a separate bin.

As the TSA always stated “the last decision always stays with the TSA officer at the airport to decide if either an item can be transported on board.

But obviously i see no reason for the TSA officer or the airport security to ban taking hard drives or computer parts in the cabin.

Do Airports Check External Hard Drives?

If you mean content or saved files or information.


Most airports will not check your external hard drive, or other electronics like phone or laptop, however they may scan it to make sure it does not contain any prohibited objects inside it, but they won’t check its content or stored information.

Domestically there is no need to worry when traveling with external hard drives, but for international flight, the country of your destination may have some strict rules on the items you are taking, including electronics, so if the airport security ask you what stored in your hard drive just tell them nicely about the content of your drive.

Note that airport security or customs have the right to inspect your hard drive and search its contents for illegal material.

Can External Hard Disks Be Carried In Hand Luggage?

Yes, external hard drives are allowed in hand luggage, and it is recommended to keep them in your carry-on all the time.

Electronics are easy to be spoiled or damaged, you don’t ant to send your hard drive in check in baggage especially your important files or information.

Tinner asked the TSA if this WD element’s external hard drive is allowed in carry-on and the TSA customer service replied that external hard drives are allowed in carry-on luggage without any problem.


Can You Put External Hard Drive In Checked Luggage?

Yes, you can take your external hard drive inside your checked luggage.

But it is not recommended, transporting hard drives or any other electronics in your check in suitcase will put them in a risk of been damaged or spoiled.

Just like laptops, iPads or tablets, hard drives are prone to be broken or lost during transit.

But, if you don’t have a choice and you want to put it in your check in luggage anyway, just be sure that you wrap you hard disk in a towel or a piece of cloth.

In addition most airlines will not compensate any expensive items or electronics that are broken, damaged or lost in your checked luggage.

How Do You Safely Transport a Hard Drive?

The best way to transport your hard drive is to wrap it inside your clothes or a towel and place it in the middle of your suitcase.

You can use also bubble wrap which works best for fragile items.

If you are traveling with a personal item that will be placed under the seat in front of you, that will be more safe than inside the bag in the overhead compartment.

What Is The Best External Hard Drive For Travel?

When traveling you want to have a backup hard drive that you can use anywhere for work, photos or to store huge video files, so a good portable external hard drive is essential.

So we decided to help you and mention some good picks to consider from Amazon if you are planning to upgrade for a new external hard drive.

The traditional (HDD) Hard Disk Drive are more affordable with high capacity but little bulky , on the other hand (SSD) solid state drives are great for travel since they are easy to carry, lighter, more solid, and high performance.

Check out this SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD – External Solid State Drive , with high-capacity storage and speed, you can use the hard drive everywhere to accelerate your work and data usage.

Can We Carry Hard Disks On International Flight?

There are no restrictions on traveling with hard disks on international flights, you can pretty much take any type of external hard drive to the airport without limits.

The airport security may ask you to remove your hard disk from your bag but overall you want to face any problem.

So it will never be an issue, as long as you take your personal external hard drive.

And stated above, do not transport your hard disk or any other electronics in checked-in luggage. There are more risks that your electronics will get damaged, and the airline will not take responsibility for them.


You can bring external hard drives on your flight in both carry on and check in luggage without any problem.

Make sure that you place your hard drives or any of your electronics inside your carry -bag or personal bag, gadgets or any sensitive electronics in checked luggage are more prone to be damaged , stolen or lost.

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