So, last week my hard drive died. I took it to a repair shop, and the person said the hard drive died. I asked why, and he says it just happens (even though my Macbook Pro is only 1.5 years old). Talking with him, I mentioned that I transport my Macbook in sleep mode; he said I should not do that. Always shut it down, before transporting; he said, the hard drive failure may be unrelated though.

Now, I checked the internet, and the online consensus seem to be it's ok to transport while asleep (though you should wait for the hard disk to stop spinning), but I'm not too sure.

Can anybody here give me a qualified, confident answer? I would love to transport it, have a quick startup, but I don't want to damage my Macbook in the least bit.

  • It is faintly possible you moved the Macbook before the hard drive finished spinning down. However, I've done that with no ill effects. Fact is, hard drives are mechanical devices which occasionally die no matter what you do. I treat them as consumables and make sure that I have good backups and budget to replace them every so often. – Alan Shutko Feb 21 '13 at 3:42
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    The tech you spoke with is wrong. Not only will the drive park itself, it also utilizes a sudden motion sensor, that when triggered (like in the case of a drop or jolt), will also park the heads to prevent the hard drive from getting damaged. If you were skilled enough, you could juggle your Mac while it was running without causing a lick of damage to your HDD. Hard drives fail. That's the nature of the technology. If he was skilled, he would have looked into why it failed (bad sectors, controller, etc.) and not just assumed it was connected to transport in sleep mode. – user10355 Feb 21 '13 at 11:17

Macbooks are designed to be transported around in sleep mode. When the machine enters sleep mode, the hard drive stops spinning, and because the hard drive is basically the only mechanically moving part in the Macbook Pro (aside from the optical drive which shuts off as well), there is no risk of damage to the computer.

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  • So the Apple Premium Service Provider was blatantly wrong (fell for a myth) or so? I've read from a bunch of internet comments, but I'm hoping to hear from others who have special expertise in hardware. – Tom Feb 21 '13 at 3:35
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    Not only does the hard drive stop spinning, the head gets parked in such a way that it's tough to damage it with "normal" bumps in transportation. I've been traveling with sleeping hard disks in MacBook Pros and PowerBooks and portable macs of all kinds for many years, the world over. I've never had a problem, ever. I am careful and I do pack my computers in padded carry on packs but I never shut them down in transit, always put them to sleep. Note: I also log out so that if my computer gets misplaced it will be a bit tougher for someone else to get into it. – Richard Feb 21 '13 at 3:40
  • @user675831, this article speaks of the SMS protection: support.apple.com/kb/HT1935. Also note that the Macbook owners manuals do not speak of shutting down your computer instead of letting it sleep. To be honest, laptops are designed to be carried around and it wouldn't make sense to have the default low-power state be one that it was not safe to transport the machine around in. I can't speak for the APSP, but I can guess that he is either telling customers inaccurate info or believing it himself. – bassplayer7 Feb 21 '13 at 13:07

I carried around my old Thinkpad in sleep mode for about six years and never had the slightest problem with the hard disk and I'm sure that there's not much difference between a MacBook and other laptops at that point. Like others said before: The hard disk shuts down in sleep mode. Every laptop is designed to be carried around in sleep mode.

If you want to be extra sure you might want to consider exchanging the hard disk with a solid state disk. You'd have to pay more for less storage space but they have no moving parts so you can basically shake your laptop in operation like a cocktail shaker without causing any harm.

  • I can't vote you up (not enough reputation), but thank you, very nice to know! – Tom Feb 21 '13 at 16:11

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