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Especially for the laptop's hard drive, due to all the vibrations while the hard disk is active?

What about putting laptops in rolling backpacks?

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If you are really worried about it, consider getting a SSD. –  Zoredache Aug 5 '11 at 4:50
    
Most newer notebooks have hard drive shock protection software. –  Moab Aug 5 '11 at 5:01
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can use laptops while traveling on a bus. However, a huge bump could mess up the platters. They do make shock resistant hard drives now which have definitely saved me in the past. I got a nasty bump on the laptop (ie dropped it while it was booted) and the hard drive immediately realized the shock was beyond the tolerance and shut down. I got a notice on the screen that the drive had taken preventive measures to keep my data safe.

As far as your backpacks go, it would be safe, but I would recommend that you either Shutdown or Hibernate the computer. Do not use sleep mode as it can sometimes keep the disk spinning which is never good for transportation.

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Event a large bump isn't likely to shock it. Considering it is resting on your lap, its acceleration isn't enough to screw it up. Now if you drop it off your lap. . . –  surfasb Aug 5 '11 at 6:34
    
Oh good points. Does your lap really shield it though? The bus and your lap can pretty much be considered a rigid body with respect to each other (the thing that might not be a rigid body is the internal components of the laptop) –  InquilineKea Aug 5 '11 at 20:10
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