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Hard drives through airport security

Hard drives through airport security

Old Mar 27th 2012, 8:11 am
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Default Hard drives through airport security

I need to take 1-2 internal hard drives to the US, either in checked baggage or hand carry. Is either "better" than the other? Obviously with a laptop one can fire it up and show it working; with an internal HD not so. I don't particularly wish them to send it away for analysis so if one method has less risk of that than the other I need to do that. Nothing to worry about on the drives; it's just easier to take them than to upload hundreds of gigs to clouds etc.

Several postings here and elsewhere about taking HDs but they seem to relate more to HDs in laptops and to external HDs or USB sticks etc.

Incidentally Pickfords said that if the inventory of a container listed PCs, it was more likely to be subject to scrutiny (read: xrays, internal examination, fees, delays). I don't know if it's true but I would imagine they have some sort of statistics to back the theory up.

Last edited by GeoffM; Mar 27th 2012 at 8:12 am. Reason: I did search, honest!
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 12:05 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Hi Geoff,

If you are looking at taking the hard drives into the states, I would look at spending a little money and getting some hard drive caddy's so they can be used as external USB drives. This will draw less atttention that you have external hard drives then internal hard drives and the border agency can easily boot the hard drives up to check them without having to get them sent away. Any good electronics/computer retailer should stock them for both laptop and desktop sized hard drives. I know maplins do a SATA2 Laptop hard drive caddy for a tenner.

Personally, i'd take the hard drives in hand luggage. It shows that you don't have anything to hide and you can also make sure that they don't get thrown about inside of your suitcase if some of the baggage handlers decided your suitcase would make a good replacement for their lost football.

I would also make sure that your hard drives are not encrypted, it will cause you less agro if they are unencrypted. I was once pulled to one side upon entering the USA, had my laptop checked and the US border controll were not amused that I had a high level of encryption on my works laptop.

Finally, I would make sure that there is NOTHING illegal on the hard drives. This includes music/videos you have downloaded from P2P/torrent sites, any adult content that is against the law in any states you are going visit. General common sense things like that just in case they do take your hard drives off you.

Good Luck!

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Old Mar 27th 2012, 12:52 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Originally Posted by GeoffM View Post
I need to take 1-2 internal hard drives to the US, either in checked baggage or hand carry.
I suggest you avoid the issue by having them FedEx'd to wherever you're going. It'll cost you more... but you can package it properly and indicate on the bill of lading what's in the box. If that's not an option, I agree with Helix... put them in your carry-on bag.

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Old Mar 27th 2012, 1:22 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Excellent tips and suggestions - thanks both of you. Hadn't even crossed my mind to use FedEx.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 2:24 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Whenever I've travelled I've always put them in my checked luggage. I've had occasions where electronic things I've taken in my carry on have been wiped by the scanners.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 2:31 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

In 2008 I traveled with 10 internal hard drives in my carry-on baggage. It was a long journey - from Chennai (India) to Seattle with a stop-over in London. The only time there was a bit of hair scratching was when departing from Heathrow a week later. The security were a bit alarmed at what showed up on the screen! They asked me what I was carrying; I said "they are internal hard drives too precious to travel unaccompanied". They looked at me, then at the two little kids standing beside me, took one drive to show to a superior officer and decided it was OK to let us through. The whole process didn't take more that 15 minutes! I didn't have any trouble in Seattle.

Last edited by cynthia786; Mar 27th 2012 at 3:07 pm.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 2:35 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Originally Posted by Southy_SWFC View Post
I've had occasions where electronic things I've taken in my carry on have been wiped by the scanners.
They must have been some heavy duty scanners, or you were just very unlucky. Usually the heavier duty scanners are used on checked in bags, rather then carry on bags.

As long as you remove the power for the device, the chances of them being wiped are the same as England's football team winning the next world cup.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 3:33 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Carry on but only so they don't get stolen from your suitcase. Otherwise Fedex.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 4:36 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

I brought 6 in my hand baggage when we moved here in 2008. Didn't really raise any eyebrows when I explained what they were and what we were doing.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 5:00 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

As if by magic here is the latest story on stuff being stolen from checked bags:

http://consumerist.com/2012/03/repor...k-airport.html

200 items per day at JFK (hey it even rhymes).
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 5:10 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Originally Posted by Helix View Post
Personally, i'd take the hard drives in hand luggage. It shows that you don't have anything to hide
All my laptop drives are encrypted (LUKS). I have plenty I don't wish big brother to see, and they can FOAD if they ask. In the days when they asked you to boot your laptop, I bunged a stripped XP boot on a small unencrypted partition to keep them happy.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 6:06 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
All my laptop drives are encrypted (LUKS). I have plenty I don't wish big brother to see, and they can FOAD if they ask. In the days when they asked you to boot your laptop, I bunged a stripped XP boot on a small unencrypted partition to keep them happy.
Never been asked to boot my laptop. I'd probably miss my flight if they asked because it's getting on a bit and takes ages and doesn't like booting from battery power sometimes either so I'd have to find an outlet...
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 6:13 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Originally Posted by sir_eccles View Post
Never been asked to boot my laptop. I'd probably miss my flight if they asked because it's getting on a bit and takes ages and doesn't like booting from battery power sometimes either so I'd have to find an outlet...
It was one of their crazes years back during the early stages of the paranoia.
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 6:16 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

Originally Posted by fatbrit View Post
All my laptop drives are encrypted (LUKS). I have plenty I don't wish big brother to see, and they can FOAD if they ask. In the days when they asked you to boot your laptop, I bunged a stripped XP boot on a small unencrypted partition to keep them happy.
Seeing as the US border control now have legislation that if you do not hand over the password for an encrypted hard drive (they have stated that the 5th amendment does not apply to the borders of the USA http://more info here) they can detain you as a terrorist. In which case having your laptop taken by the USA border controll will be the least of your worries!
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Old Mar 27th 2012, 6:35 pm
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Default Re: Hard drives through airport security

I've carried hard drives on occasions into the US and never had a problem. I carry them in my hand baggage or in a pocket. Either way I put them in a separate tray to go through the scanner. Never had a problem and all have been post 9-11, and they have gone through the scanner in the UK and US.
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