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I heard that a hard disk in a laptop is more susceptible to damage if it is turned on. A person damaged their laptop's hard drive by having their laptop on while it was in their backpack.

I also carry my MacBook Pro around in my backpack. Is it safe to have it in sleep mode while it's in my backpack, or should I turn it completely off?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I've been doing it (carrying a sleeping machine around in my hand, backpack, trunk, etc...) with Apple laptops for years. Going back to my powerbook 190cs in the early 1990s.

No trouble.

Had a few PC laptops in there, too and treated them the same way also with no trouble. Note that "sleep" means slightly different things in the two cases, though.

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+1 Carried several around for years in sleep mode. Never had an issue – Dave M Feb 4 '10 at 20:51

The danger comes from jarring the laptop while the hard disk is spinning. It's highly likely that the hard disk spins down in sleep mode, as it's one of the chief power consumers.

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I think everything except the RAM gets powered off. – Nathaniel Feb 4 '10 at 20:59
I concur, HDD is not spinning while in sleep mode. I've been carrying around my work laptops for years with no problems. – Roy Rico Feb 4 '10 at 22:14
Agreed -- sleep, especially on a Mac, means the disk is spun down, heads are offloaded from the platters to the ramp, and is physically turned off. The machine is as safe to move as though it were totally powered off. – Alexander Burke Mar 14 '10 at 1:52

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