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Ask Slashdot: Transporting Computers By Cargo Ship?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the dramamine-and-lots-of-it dept.

Transportation 249

JabrTheHut writes "I'll be packing up and moving to another continent soon. Everything I own will be packed up into boxes and loaded onto a cargo container, which in turn will be loaded onto a ship and will sail from Northern Europe, through the equator and then to its final destination. It will be in transit for up to 8 weeks. What do I need to do to ensure my stuff survives the trip? I've got anti-static bags and silica gel for graphics cards and hard disks, which won't be in the computers, mostly, when they move, and some of what I own will be crated in order to protect both against physical damage and humidity. I'll throw in a couple of packets of silica gel into each box or crate. Clothes get moth balls. But what have I missed? Will the printer ink survive? Do I have to worry about batteries? What haven't I thought of?"

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Idiot (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569855)

Really? This is what constitutes an 'Ask Slashdot' these days? No wonder Taco left and Geeknet sold them...

Re:Idiot (3, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#41570375)

Come on, give him a break. He's shipping computer parts to _China._
Nobody has ever done that!
Why would one, you'll get a new one there for less than the transport costs.

Heat. (2)

cadeon (977561) | about 2 years ago | (#41569867)

My main concern would be heat- and there's not much you can do about it, unfortunately.

Sun on a metal box basically turns it into an oven. Hopefully your container isn't on top.

Re:Heat. (4, Insightful)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 2 years ago | (#41570243)

I can't imagine the heat doing much compared to the running tempretures of a normal PC. 70C is not out of the picture in an overclocked system, and it survives just fine.

Besides, how do you think it got over here in the first place? Shipped by cargo ship from the far east.

Personally, I would hand carry any media I wanted to protect. The data is important, the hardware is an inconvenience.

Re:Heat. (1)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41570307)

Personally, I would hand carry any media I wanted to protect. The data is important, the hardware is an inconvenience.

Exactly what I was thinking. Are you loading the container yourself? If so, add lots extra padding.

Re:Heat. (3, Insightful)

bonehead (6382) | about 2 years ago | (#41570397)

Yep, have a backup of important data that you carry on your person during the trip. The hardware can pretty much be haphazardly stuffed into boxes and not worried about.

Computers are not the delicate, fragile devices that so many people insist on treating them as. If they were laptops could not exist.

Re:Heat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570313)

I agree. Also, how long will it sit in storage before you settle in your new home?

Inkjet printers get screwed up if the print heads dry out. When they are plugged in, you will hear them cycle ink once in a while to keep the heads from drying. Being in a hot shipping box and then sitting around unplugged may cause those parts to dry up and get clogged. Depending on the printer, this can be expensive enough to replace that you should just replace the printer. (Some printers replace the heads every time you replace the cartridge, while others have them as separate, longer-lived pieces.)

We shipped computers and audio electronics without trouble, but other household items with foam and rubber components deteriorated pretty quickly with the heat stress and change of climates (and probably exposure to different molds and fungi). Our books also showed pretty significant yellowing of the pages within a year of shipping, compared to years of stability before we moved.

backup data and replace (5, Insightful) (1706780) | about 2 years ago | (#41569873)

Personally I would have just backed the data up and carried the hard drives with me if I were moving continents. Computer hardware isn't that expensive to replace.

If you're intent on doing it that way though, it might help to package the stuff in its original boxes, I know many people do keep them. They're suitable for shipping.

Re:backup data and replace (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | about 2 years ago | (#41570133)

We have a winner.

Hand-carry or air-ship your media. Pack the rest like you would for shipping it UPS and don't overthink it.

Re:backup data and replace (2)

pollarda (632730) | about 2 years ago | (#41570205)

A separate backup is a really good idea. I ship cocoa beans by container on a regular basis and while I haven't had any significant problems (yet) it will no doubt happen -- and at the most inconvenient time. It is a regular occurrence for containers to be washed overboard or to simply be "lost" (before or after customs). I'd make digital copies of all your most important pictures and paperwork and ship your copies separate (perhaps by FedEx). This way unless a meteor plummets out of the sky wiping out an entire hemisphere one copy will make it to your destination. Additionally, be sure to purchase the extra insurance on your goods. Money may not truly replace all that you can potentially lose but, it will make your life much much easier. Be prepared for your stuff to get hung up in customs as this happens frequently. If your container gets hung up, be prepared to pay "drayage" which can be from $100-$200/day for the storage of your container while customs decides what to do. Yea, there is _no_ _way_ to speed up customs once they have set their sights on you. It could take a day or it could take a week, their choice. You will not be able to remove your container from the port until all the storage and handling fees have been paid. Good luck on your trip.

Re:backup data and replace (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 2 years ago | (#41570305)

Computer hardware isn't that expensive to replace.

Depends on what country you're in. Buy a computer in some countries and you can expect to pay heavy import duties. But there's often an exemption for computers you bring to the country with you. And in any case, if you've had your computer for even a couple of years, it's depreciated up the wazoo, and you can get away with a very low declared value.

Re:backup data and replace (2)

puto (533470) | about 2 years ago | (#41570529)


I moved from the US to Colombia, SA, and I brought two motherboards, processors, graphic cards, 8 hard drives, and two heavy duty power supplies, plus all the cabling wrapped in bubble wrap. I left my cases in the us because of the weight and the size.

When I arrived I bought two towers and put them all back together.

Depends on where you go, sometimes it is hard to find good parts, but you can always find a case.

Also, customs agents in other countries tend to "lose" things in transit.

Packaging (5, Insightful)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about 2 years ago | (#41569877)

Simple - put things into packaging approximating what they originally came in. Worked fine for me, with a range of computing hardware and an inkjet printer travelling from Europe to Washington State.

(How do you think much of your computing stuff made its way from China to begin with?)

Re:Packaging (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569927)

Exactly. I ship expensive electronics (scientific equipment) by container ship all the time. It's not that big a deal. Just make sure you've got proper backups.

However, don't use mothballs. You'll never ever get the scent out. Sealed bags will keep any bugs out.

Re:Packaging (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41570159)

And you only need mothballs in your punch card and punch tape boxes anyway.

Re:Packaging (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | about 2 years ago | (#41570129)

(How do you think much of your computing stuff made its way from China to begin with?)

In cases of individual parts?

Re:Packaging (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41570505)

And with the printers make sure to secure anything that was secure. In my last big move the only thing I lost was a high end inkjet printer. Three miles unsecured in the car and it never worked again.

I would make an image of the harddisk and hand carry, and then back up data on some offsite device.

Re:Packaging (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570537)

with a range of computing hardware and an inkjet printer travelling from Europe to Washington State.

Christ, another Microsoftie.

Having a secure backup (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569887)

Really, all this transportation is one thing, but you should have a secure backup that isn't transported so far out of your hands.

Because ships sink, cargo containers break or get stolen, things go bad.

At least if the internet cables break, that's not your problem.

Talk to Missionaries (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569893)

You should talk to missionaries who go for long term assignments. They typically ship the bulk of houshold goods by ship because it's cheaper. Biggest problem is dealing with the customs workers on the other end. One trick was to put a cute cuddly child's toy on the top of each box or container. The customs guy would often take that and leave the rest. That was 30 years ago.. Don't know what is the best nowadays.

One lady had to pack 4 years of tampons. Customs guy had never seen them before. Husband went to pick up the barrels (45 gallon drums) and was a bit of a joker. Q. "What are these?". A. "What do you think?" Q "Some kind of new cigarette?"

Re:Talk to Missionaries (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569943)

Of course, as a downside, you have to talk to missionaries... People who spent their whole lives making people miserable by pushing delusions on them.

I did this a bit over two years ago (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569913)

I packaged the computers in their rack, pulled the hard disks, they were hand carried. I did make one mistake, my container (and computers) were inspected, and I had already set the computers to EU voltage, lost a motherboard and 2 power supplies.

No real special care needed to be done, the container was loaded by the shipping company, and all my stuff arrived just fine in Finland after about about 2.5 months later. Only real hassle was the car, the rest was just tax free and easy as "removal goods" as per EU regulations.

Re:I did this a bit over two years ago (1)

Gonoff (88518) | about 2 years ago | (#41570067)

You took a US car away from North America? Why?

Re:I did this a bit over two years ago (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 2 years ago | (#41570111)

I did make one mistake, my container (and computers) were inspected, and I had already set the computers to EU voltage, lost a motherboard and 2 power supplies.

Where do you live, what voltage mains supply did the customs people plug your kit into ? The standard voltage in the EU is 230V, I can't see something being badly blown by under voltage, so the voltage must have been higher -- which areas have higher than about 250V ?

Ink and batteries (5, Informative)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#41569917)

Should be removed for shipping.

Prepare to lose everything (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569921)

Prepare to lose everything you pack in the container. Cargo ships will pack as many cargo containers into them as they can and whatever won't fit into the hold will be strapped to the deck. It is not unknown for cargo containers to be washed overboard during a storm. A shipment of rubber ducks that were washed overboard ended up helping scientists track ocean currents. See the following link:

Re:Prepare to lose everything (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41570061)

Prepare to lose everything you pack in the container. Cargo ships will pack as many cargo containers into them as they can and whatever won't fit into the hold will be strapped to the deck. It is not unknown for cargo containers to be washed overboard during a storm. A shipment of rubber ducks that were washed overboard ended up helping scientists track ocean currents. See the following link:

Be prepared to get boarded you scurvy dog!

Come on, bad things can always happen. Container losses are not particularly common and he's not shipping the Mona Lisa.

Good thing pirates don't make you walk the plank these days. You'd be in a total twizzy.

Re:Prepare to lose everything (5, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 2 years ago | (#41570427)

While the subject line is a bit sensational, I do think it's worth warning potentially naive people that they can lose everything in a move, even if unlikely. As a child my family hired a reputable moving company to move almost all of our belongings about 700 miles from a northern US state to a southern one. It was near the end of the year, so unbeknown to us, the driver actually drove the van north to spend New Year's with his family and abandoned it in a shopping center where it was robbed. What they didn't take, the robbers dumped in the snow to get ruined. We lost everything we didn't take with us in the car, including irreplaceable family photos of me and my brother as young children. The moving company fought us in court and in the end since my family was not rich and could not afford a protracted lawsuit, we had to settle for a price that probably didn't truly cover our losses but got most of them. I remember some years ago in school encountering another student with a similar story, but events like this are rare. People just need to understand that while it is probably unlikely that the OP will lose everything, the odds are probably a lot higher than he likely realizes and it's not a "1 in a million" event.

Re:Prepare to lose everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570531)

It should also be pointed out that there is no 100% safe way to move anything or even keep it in the same place. For example, had you taken your photos with you who's to say someone wouldn't have ransacked your now stuffed car when it was parked at motel, etc. I am just pointing out that making copies is the only way to get some guarantee of not losing you shit due to one unlucky moment.

However, with digital stuff coping(backing up) is super easy, this unfortunately balanced by the fact that accidental deleting stuff is also super easy. So back shit UPPUPUPUPUP....

International Piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569929)

Make sure you don't send your stuff past the horn of Africa or the trolls will jump out from under the horm and demand payment.

Just in case, you should pack an offering to the Gods.

Iranian Rials are cheap and the bills come only in large denominations, so use those. :-)

Miltary has been doing this for ages (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 2 years ago | (#41569945)

Anybody that's served overseas has sent stuff back and forth via cargo containers.

This is a really dumb question.... just pack your stuff well and stop worrying about it, like the thousands of service personnel have done for decades of shipping personal computers, stereo equipment, etc...

Re:Miltary has been doing this for ages (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 2 years ago | (#41570007)

Or the 100s of millions of electronics that get shipped each year by boat from China and Taiwan? Yeah, there isn't anything all that tough about this.

Re:Miltary has been doing this for ages (2)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#41570617)

You skipped over a lot of interesting responses to tell him it's a dumb question.

Dude, its not going to the moon... (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41569955)

Put it in sealed plastic bags, and forget about it.

Why bother to remove the hard drives and graphics cards? Just bag the computer and ship it intact with sufficient padding for normal handling.
Containers aren't totally humidity proof, but they aren't going to have ocean waves flowing thru your stuff either. They are close enough to being
sealed that simply bagging against humidity is sufficient. Silica gel is unnecessary. Bag it. Tape it. Pad it. Box it. done.

Pack it like you would for motor freight from one end of your country to the other.
Ocean passage is five nines uneventful. Occasionally large waves take entire tiers of containers
off ships, but this is exceedingly rare, and that is what insurance is for.

Your stuff is more at risk sitting in the freight yard pre and post passage, than it is on the ship. Not from any real damage, but rather from pilferage.

Moth balls? At sea?

Re:Dude, its not going to the moon... (4, Funny)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | about 2 years ago | (#41570391)

Bag it. Tape it. Pad it. Box it.

... strap it, seal it, zip it, ship it.



Re:Dude, its not going to the moon... (2)

mcelrath (8027) | about 2 years ago | (#41570393)

Why bother to remove the hard drives and graphics cards?

Because an assembled computer is generally not going to withstand stresses (dropping) very well. The box the case came in is not designed to handle more weight than the case itself, and if you put it in that box with all the cards/hdd/psu in it, it will way 5-10 times as much as the empty case. When it gets dropped (it will get dropped) things will come loose. Now you've got a loose video card rattling around in your case, bending and breaking connectors, and slamming into other things. In my case it was the PSU that came loose, due to some less-than-stellar mounting holes on the back of the case for it, as well as the CPU cooler which sticks way up off the motherboard. Mounting screws and aluminum panels were bent. Fortunately for me after re-mounting everything, everything still worked.

It's a good idea to disassemble everything as much as possible, and ship each part in something close to how it was shipped to you. When I have to do this again that's what I'll do. I think hard drives are probably okay to leave in the case, but RAM, CPUs coolers, and cards should be removed. Just a little force in the right direction will wrench them right off.

It will get dropped.

Re:Dude, its not going to the moon... (2)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41570705)

Most people buy computers fully assembled which means that the original box is in fact designed to handle fully assembled machines with drives and processors and video cards all installed.

Your video card is the LEAST likely thing to come loose, its slotted and screwed in.
Old school slot mounted CPU-daughter cards maybe, but seriously, those things went out 10 years ago.

Having moved from one state to another, which included an ocean passage in a shipping container, plus subsequent trucking half way across the country, I can assure you disassembly is simply not warranted.

That you can quote a horror story about a slap-dash home build machine in a cheesy white-box case, improperly packed, does not surprise me.

Re:Dude, its not going to the moon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570641)

I recommend the silica it's super cheap if bought from the right place. I buy 1 pound for >$10 that should do it.

Re:Dude, its not going to the moon... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41570717)

I recommend the silica it's super cheap if bought from the right place. I buy 1 pound for >$10 that should do it.

You recommend it because its cheap? Rice is cheaper. Sand is free.

None of them is needed.

Heatsink (5, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41569961)

Remove the CPU's heatsink from the motherboard, if you haven't. Those things are heavy, and the plastic screws typically holding them on are weak. The last thing you want is a big hunk of metal bouncing around inside the box.

Source: experience :(

Re:Heatsink (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41570091)

He's going by boat. Not the Space Shuttle.

What in the holy Hell was your noted experience? Are you one of those people who touched their tongue on a 9V battery and had to go to the ER because it got stuck or something?

Re:Heatsink (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41570185)

The gel holding the heatsink can loose if warmed up too much.

Re:Heatsink (1)

torjeh (1472865) | about 2 years ago | (#41570105)

This happened to me once. A slot-A cpu with fans and a motherboard heatsink bouncing around. Luckily everything still worked once put in place.

Re:Heatsink (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570153)

Second. I was only moving partway cross-country with things packed in a shipping container (POD) and had the heatsink/fan come partially disconnected from the CPU. Didn't break the mobo because of the crappy clip mechanism it used to hold itself together, but it caused a bunch of intermittent faults and shutdowns before I caught that it had broken the thermal paste and was not fully attached.

Adding to confusion: the fan wiring somehow also came undone, so when thermal faults started shutting the machine down I saw that and fixed it. Corrected the problem for a bit (instead of a minute or two of uptime I was getting 10 or 20, with quick faults under load), and made it harder to pin down the actual problem since I kept thinking "already fixed the cooling issue on the CPU - maybe a supply fan? bad thermal sensor?".

If you're really worried about the machine setup, you could probably pack the inside with digikey-style crinkled paper to help keep things from bouncing around, or just take the cpu/fan out.

Re:Heatsink (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570169)

Bullshit. CPU heatsinks are not fastened by plastic screws; they're held by very sturdy spring clamps that attach to the ZIF socket. This has been the case for at least 15 years (i.e. anything past a 486).

Smart money says: you forgot to set the spring clamp when you installed the heat sink. (ID-10T error.)

Re:Heatsink (1)

ed1park (100777) | about 2 years ago | (#41570291)

Mod him up. I just moved my computer upstairs and my heatsink came loose. It's one of those big zalman custom thingies.

Re:Heatsink (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 2 years ago | (#41570519)

Yep, same thing with the GPU (I assume you have a nice GPU, that's the only thing that would make your PC worth shipping these days)

Even though mine was screwed in, the PC frame got bent slightly while in airline storage. Now if I nudge my case the wrong way, I start getting video corruption :P

Really? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41569979)

And his followup questions are: "How do I wipe my ass properly?", "Should I stick this fork in the outlet?" and "How do I walk and talk at the same time?". Just ask the fucking shipping company or do a Google search. Why did this deserve to be on the front page?

Where are you going? (1)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about 2 years ago | (#41569983)

Where are you going?

Australia? New Zealand? Somewhere else? :)

Re:Where are you going? (1)

jkflying (2190798) | about 2 years ago | (#41570311)

Perhaps South Africa?

Own less stuff (3, Insightful)

Magic5Ball (188725) | about 2 years ago | (#41569989)

Why not take this opportunity to simplify your life by owning less stuff? It would save you from having to pack, ship, track, and store everything.

There are far more opportunities available if you're mobile enough to fit your life into a couple of suitcases and leave the bulky/sentimental stuff with relatives. More importantly, your spending will naturally shift from things to people and experiences that can't get damaged or lost in transit.

Re:Own less stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570087)

We're not all Simple Jack [] . Don't assume everyone strives for a death-equivalent Zen state. Or has shitloads of money to "just buy new stuff"/"eat cake".

Re:Own less stuff (0)

gagol (583737) | about 2 years ago | (#41570475)

I got rid of most electronics years ago and I realised high end stereo, tv and such are not necessary for happiness, quite the contrary. I obviously own a computer since I am posting on Slashdot regularly but it is a simple light laptop. I end up nspending more times with friends and outdoor and the lifestyle change has made me more happy.

There is a point in reducing distractions and growing real interactions to achieve a better more fulfilling life.

Re:Own less stuff (3)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#41570663)

No, you realized they are not necessary for your happiness. (And being 'necessary' is a red herring. The question is whether they enhance it or not)

It's a good thing that you improved your life, but you shouldn't assume that everyone is like you. For example, I'm perfectly capable of owning a TV without spending time watching stupid shit on it (I mostly use it to watch good movies in good company).

Backups (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 2 years ago | (#41569999)

What with the "anti-terror" regulations, I'd give serious thought to a full online backup and leaving pretty much just the basics on the hard drives. And I'd zero the "empty" sectors. I know I'm being paranoid, its why I'm "trusted" about this kind of thing, but it removes one more, possible, reason for seizure (or delay).

Best bet (4, Insightful)

CodeInspired (896780) | about 2 years ago | (#41570003)

Sell, pawn, or throw pretty much everything away and get new stuff when you get there. If you are paying for the shipping, I'm willing to bet almost everything you are shipping is not worth the cost to ship it. Ship the sentimental stuff (pictures, videos, gifts, etc) and take the super important things with you on the plane. I'm pretty sure a used ink cartridge for your printer is not worth shipping across the globe and waiting 8 weeks for it.

Re:Best bet (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41570155)

if you are paying for the shipping, I'm willing to bet almost everything you are shipping is not worth the cost to ship it.

Basically, if you're sending freight, there will be a large fixed cost (for "handling" and port fees, documents, etc.) and then a per cubic foot cost. So you end up paying about the same even if you cut the volume by half for a small "domestic" shipment.

Obviously back up your hard drives. I'd take them out and take them in personal luggage. May not be safer, but then you won't have to wait weeks to get access to them.

Re:Best bet (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#41570271)

I'd take them out and take them in personal luggage. May not be safer, but then you won't have to wait weeks to get access to them.

You probably will have to wait weeks.
Carrying loose hard drives is far more suspicious than carrying complete computers.
Depending on the country of destination, carrying loose drives on board an airplane is far more likely to get them seized for analysis at customs.

Re:Best bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570499)

Depending on the country of destination, carrying loose drives on board an airplane is far more likely to get them seized for analysis at customs.

Just delete the kiddy porn and anarchist cookbook you have on it ;-)

Re:Best bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570315)

probably cheaper to ebay for free shipping new ink to destination.

um.. (1)

LodCrappo (705968) | about 2 years ago | (#41570005)

Most of your stuff probably spent plenty of time on a cargo ship before you owned it. Consider the packaging it came in and how it was disassembled and do something like that.

It came in a cargo ship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570011)

it's been there before, just pack it well and enjoy your ship.

You computer came in a shipping container (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570013)

Don't worry about it. Seriously. Your computer was built in Asia and came to wherever you live now via a shipping container. It will be fine.

Why move? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570015)

Computers are pretty cheap commodities. In many cases, the shipping cost is more than the value of the computer. I wouldn't bother trying to move computers, and just replace them when you get where you're going. Especially if your data is backed up appropriately, there doesn't seem to be much sense in moving computers.

Re:Why move? (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41570471)

And not only computers. Unless you have very expensive furniture, buying stuff new at the local rates might be cheaper as well then shipping.

My parents went from Northern to Southern Europe. If they would do it again, they would sell everything and buy new.

Look at what you pay and what you WOULD pay for it where you are going. Remember also that you are shipping second hand stuff and there is something refreshing to have everything new when you start over in a new country.

ask slashdot has come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570051)

Put your crap in boxes. Make sure fragile stuff has padding. Don't include liquids unless you want the rest of your crap to get wet. Then let the shipper do their thing. This is possibly one of the single most useless "ask slashdot" questions that has ever been published.

You're worried about your printer ink? What do you think will happen if your printer ink doesn't survive? What are you going to do, remove the cartridges and pack them in your carry-on? To save $50? And batteries? Batteries sometimes leak. Is this something you often fret about? Because do you really think floating around on a ship is going to somehow make them more likely to do so? Salt air isn't that corrosive, even if it were really going to be getting into the battery compartment of your gadgets which are packed inside padding, inside boxes, inside shrink wrap, inside a container, on a ship.


Re:ask slashdot has come to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570287)

Facepalm is right...

Printers (1)

SandyBrownBPK (1031640) | about 2 years ago | (#41570161)

One thing everyone else has missed, so far: your printer! Read the instructions for shipping! I didn't, and when I moved and opened the box with my printer, ink was EVERYWHERE!!! Wound up pitching the printer!

Power (2)

Gonoff (88518) | about 2 years ago | (#41570187)

The USA uses a different voltage and frequency from most of the planet. Back all your data online, copy it onto USB devices and sell as much as possible. Unless you are being posted to a desert island, you will be able to buy replacements when you arrive. This will save you transport costs.

Re:Power (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570771)

And almost all computers and chargers either can be switched between USA and rest-of-the-words mode or just tolerate either without switching.

Not a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570209)

As others have said, computers are routinely shipped by sea. This is not a major issue, provided it is securely packed. I recently moved from the East Coast of the US to New Zealand and we had a large server and several "old" but still usable laptops in our container (including a Powerbook 145 that still works, after years in the basement).

Two hints. If you are sneaky and shipping a newish Mac and have Applecare call them and ask for a box to send it in for repair - Apple will FedEx you a very nice shipping box. Then call and let them you know realized it was a software problem to close the ticket.

Secondly, and not sneakily, just to be on the safe side (containers washed overboard, theft etc) any important data should be backed up and travel by a different route, or a copy left at home.

I've done this (2)

DigMarx (1487459) | about 2 years ago | (#41570215)

I shipped a computer, some hard drives and a couple of lcd monitors from Thailand to New Zealand by ship. I packed it in original packaging when possible, and the computer (DAW) was in a rackmount chassis in a metal studio case. Padded it with a couple of blankets. Everything was fine, except the motherboard died about a week after arrival. Could have been the shipping, could have been the arbitrariness of life. It was a couple of years old at that time.

Insurance (5, Informative)

jkroll (32063) | about 2 years ago | (#41570219)

As someone who has moved overseas and back four times; you are worried about the trivial details. Take a good hard look at the shipping contract concerning damage coverage. The contract may also prohibit certain hazardous materials like lead acid batteries and cleaning products.

Have your property packed out by a company experienced in shipping belongings overseas. No amount of silica packages will protect your stuff if the container is lost at sea or gets sea water inside.

Document the condition of your belongings before they are packed up. Also make backups of important data and papers and keep them separate from your shipment. So that in the event that the worst happens, it's just a matter of getting reimbursed for damages and buying replacements. While that can be time consuming and annoying, it is better than losing irreplaceable photos or legal records.

Good luck and enjoy your new country.

Ping-pong balls (2, Funny)

Smivs (1197859) | about 2 years ago | (#41570237)

Whatever else you do, pack all the spare space in the container with ping-pong balls. At least then if the ship sinks or the container is washed overboard it will float.

Heat sinks (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#41570263)

If your CPU heat sinks are in the largish side, take them off and store them separately. The heavy ones can damage a mobo if the computer is jerked around (like in a cargo container).

Shipping computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570317)

I worked for a company that has shipped computers, printers, etc. via cargo containers around the world. The only problems were lost shipments and dropped boxes. The lost shipement was found again and the dropped box fell from a skiff into a dry dock. I don't think you will be facing tht kind of problem. Printer ink will last on the shelves of stores for months so 8 weeks is nothing.

Did you insure the items? At least if that happens you can get money to buy new hardware if some disaster does happen.

How much of your stuff is worth the transport cost (3, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41570321)

This is an important question that everyone should ask, regardless of how far they are moving. You mention graphics cards and hard drives that are not installed in computers - are they really worth transporting? I know this can be a hard question to answer but it is important. I would recommend looking at the cost per kilogram you are paying for transport, and then think seriously of which items that you are shipping are worth at least that much per kilogram on their own. Anything that doesn't meet that threshold should probably not be moved.

Security, damage, ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570329)

You've checked with your government's foreign ministry or tourist's bureau for info and FAQs about moving to another country, yes?

Depending on the destination country, your container may have to be fumigated. Everything should be in sealed containers and then cleaned thoroughly before use.

There is a risk of theft from your container and damage from rough handling during transit. Some people have mentioned that shipping containers have been broken into and used by smugglers.

Depending on where you're going, you can have your property pre-inspected by customs before loading on the ship. You must have a complete inventory of the contents of the container. The customs bureau will tell you what you need for documentation, et cetera. They should inspect the documents and property then lock and seal the container in your presence. When it arrives, arrange to be present when it arrives and make sure the customs seal is not broken or damaged. If you can't get a customs pre-inspection, arrange for your insurer to inspect everything and seal the container. (You're insuring your property, right?) And make sure you're present with the documentation before the container is opened for customs inspection at the destination port. If you find a broken or damaged seal tell customs and notify the insurer and shipper.

You could also add Shockwatch stickers to your boxes to find out if the container was handled roughly. They're cheap insurance. These stickers use a clear glass tube that fills with red dye if they encounter certain G levels. They are pretty self-explanatory. If any turn red, you need to report it to the insurer and closely inspect the contents before signing the shipper's papers. You should tell the shipper and insurer about the Shockwatch stickers if you use them. And shippers will sometimes let you put them on the outside of the container.

You should be prepared to pay duty and tax on some items. Typically, household items and personal property is exempt from duties and taxes but the exemptions vary from country to country. Find out as much as you can about shipping household and personal property offshore and especially to your destination well beforehand so there are no surprises and so you can deal with possible problems before they bite you or get you into legal trouble.

There are people who know all the ins and outs of moving to another country. Sorry, but I can't find any info about them right now. Your insurer or shipper might know more.

For inkjet printers, the ink cartridges should not be removed. If you have empty cartridges, consider putting them in the printer instead. (If you do that, you can't use the cartridges you took out because they will dry out and clog.) Otherwise, the ink in the system is exposed to air and is likely to dry out and clog the printer, making it unusable. You might want to consider leaving the printers behind or selling them and buying new printers at your destination because of the inks and because they may not work with the destination country's power system. In fact, you should find out what electronics and appliances of yours will not work in the destination country so you don't take anything that will be useless with you.

Find out as much as you can beforehand about everything. Be prepared and avoid unpleasant surprises for your move.

Keep the important stuff (1)

gowdy (135717) | about 2 years ago | (#41570333)

I just took out the hard drives and took them with me on the plane. Everything was fine when it finally arrived. The movers just boxed up the computers like everything else. I've done this twice now...

Leia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570341)

JabrTheHut writes
"What haven't I thought of?"

Watch out for that bitch Leia. She's into strangulation.

Backup By FedEx (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | about 2 years ago | (#41570351)

If you have a decent mover (never really know until you get your stuff back...) your stuff should be just fine if you pack it reasonably. A good mover will also pay attention to what you say is fragile and will treat it accordingly (you can also watch them stuff everything in the container to make sure).

Nevertheless, you always want a backup of your data going a different route. Create a backup and either FedEx it to the destination or take it with you.

It's a non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570355)

How do you think your stuff got to you in the first place? Hint - it wasn't air freight.


Your biggest problem isn't humidity... (3, Insightful)

Dr_Harm (529148) | about 2 years ago | (#41570403)

Your biggest problem isn't humidity, it's going to be salt. Those cargo containers are not airtight, and if nothing else your crates and pallets may be sitting on a dock for an extended period of time. If things are in well-sealed cardboard boxes, it shouldn't be an issue... but you're not very clear on how your stuff is being packed.

Consider getting one of the large rolls of cling-film used for shipping (i.e. similar to saran-wrap). For electronics (TV, computer, printer, maybe even the coffee machine) wrap them individually with the cling-film; it's not perfect, but if done well (i.e. tightly and completely) that should choke-off any salt spray from finding it's way inside.

Also, anything that is on a pallet (but not a crate) should be wrapped and strapped so that the (a) the pallet stays in one piece, and (b) it is tamper-evident.

Re:Your biggest problem isn't humidity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570573)

Don't be silly. Six weeks of salty air won't make the slightest bit of difference. How do you think we get all out tech gear from China? They come over in exactly the same shipping containers and people moving overseas us.

Use original packaging if possible (1)

Mortimer82 (746766) | about 2 years ago | (#41570413)

I recently moved from Ireland to South Africa and had a NAS, laptop and two LCD screens shipped over.

With the NAS ( I put it in the original antistatic bag and then in its box, padded with a bit of bubble wrap and these packaging air bags. I shipped it with all its hard drives inside.

With the screens I had their original packaging, a simple plastic bag, then placed inside polystyrene packaging then in their cardboard box.

With the laptop (oldish now, so wasn't too fussed), I just put it in a regular packing cardboard box with some clothes around it.

All items arrived fine, perhaps I was luckier than some, but it seems the shippers were reasonably careful with my goods based on the state of the boxes.

For my actual computer, I disassembled it, threw away the case and the rest I put in my checked in luggage, that way I didn't have to wait the 3 months for the shipping to happen. Shipping took a long time as I didn't have much to bring back and it took a little while for enough other people to come along so there would be enough to fill up the container.

Simple (1)

XB-70 (812342) | about 2 years ago | (#41570423)

Take out the HD's and carry them with you. If the machines are fucked when they get to you, at least you have all your software/config.

FTA (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 2 years ago | (#41570429)

What haven't I thought of? drop the apostrophe from "its"

International Ocean and Air Transport (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570513)

Electronics is shipped by vessel all of the time. Yes, you can seal your pieces in plastic bags for extra protection in the event of leakage, but that is rare as the containers are designed to prevent this and are certified to transport cargo on the water.

Very little ocean cargo is lost. Insurance can be a pain to establish value in the event of loss. Air cargo from the US to the majority of destinations in the world is a 5-10 day trip and averages $3.00 per lb for a 220 lb cargo shipment. If your computers are really valuable, I would ship via air cargo and the extra $600.00 you spend should be easy to recoup in getting you up and running about 30 days faster than you would have if shipping by vessel. Chase - A2 Global Shipping

Personal experiences (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#41570523)

I used to be the head shipper/receiver for a company that shipped million dollar equipment pretty much everywhere in the world. Since their business spanned in various areas from mechanical equipment like computerized hydraulic saws to CNC machines, UPS systems, to custom electric motors, to replacement panels for other machines. Everything had to be packed in it's own way.

The non-non-rule(aka the most important). Document everything, and prepare your customs and declaration information beforehand. Be clear, be concise. Put an extra copy inside the box, on top of what you packed so if it's opened customs officials will have a full inventory list and hopefully won't destroy everything.

Rule one: There's no such thing using too little packing material. And your packaging should always be overrated, if you're sharing a shipping container this is doubly true.
Rule two: If it's important, it goes in the crate. The crate goes in another crate. And between the two crates you use extra padding. You pay for it(by size) but you can help make sure it gets there in tact. Otherwise, just pack smart.
Rule three: Anything that can cause damage needs to be packed separately from the main components. And any form of capture material(heat sinks, cooling containers, coolant, etc) is stored in it's own box. You'll be putting each of those in their own packing too, unless they're cheap.
Rule four: If it can go wrong, it will go wrong. An example: $4m CNC machine is being shipped to Dallas, in a box, strapped to the inside of a truck. It was hit by a train. Don't expect everything to go perfectly, even customs can cage your stuff for weeks if you mess up a declaration.

A shilling a day keeps the editor away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570609)

Would like full disclosure from the poster; is he in any way affiliated with sellers of shipping/handling accelerometers?

Backups (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 2 years ago | (#41570613)

Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Make backups of all of your data and ship the backups differently. Take them with you if possible, but checked luggage is not foolproof either, and if you put them in your carry-on luggage you may run afoul of the TSA or its local equivalent.

Coolers make great packing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570619)

Buy a cooler or two and put stuff in that, with suitable packing to brace everything in place. That's how a colleague got his synthesizer to Japan.

Secure Your Sensitive Data (1)

DERoss (1919496) | about 2 years ago | (#41570625)

Backing up your hard drives was already suggested. Additionally, you shouldould either encrypt financial records using PGP or use a secure disc erasing application to remove them from your hard drive. By "financial records", you should include bank statements, tax returns, a list of your logon IDs and passwords, and bookmarks ("favorites") that include financial institutions. You might have other sensitive personal data that should be similarly treated.

You should also encrypt the backup files to a portable medium, which you should hand-carry or include in your luggage. However, you should have to be prepared to decrypt those files at your destination for customs and explain why they are encrypted.

Finally, you should put into your luggage all your accumulated CDs containing software that you have installed along with a flash drive containing the installer files that you downloaded and installed. This is in case your PC is lost in shipping and you have to recreate your configuration. These should NOT be encrypted since you would need the unencrypted software to decrypt your encrypted backups.

Of course, you need to carry your private PGP key on a flash drive or memory chip hidden in your wallet. This will show up in X-rays at airport security when you depart. When you arrive at your destination, however, X-raying your wallet or body is generally not done.

To point out the obvious (1)

Diddlbiker (1022703) | about 2 years ago | (#41570647)

Every single computer that the above comments have been typed on, has been manufactured in China. And they've all been shipped all over the world in freight containers. Wrap things in a plastic bag, put them in a cardboard box and let the moving company take care of it. Don't worry about temperature, humidity, etc - just make sure what you pack is dry or you'll be greeted by a big furry mass when opening the boxes.
There is a remote chance that the container will get lost. Assume 5000 boxes on a large vessel. One might get lost during a voyage, on average. So divide the value of your belongings by 5000 and that's, on average, what you should be paying on insurance, likely less than more.
And it's worth doing some research and use a reputable moving company. Skimping a few dollars and not getting your stuff is not worth it.

No special handling needed (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41570669)

When I moved to and from Hawaii (I think only about 2 or 3 weeks of that time is on a boat but another week or two in storage on each end led to 7 weeks from dropoff to delivery on the other end), I didn't do anything special with my electronics. Just packed computers and electronics in boxes the same way I'd pack them if I were moving across town - surrounded them with sheets, towels, etc for cushioning before putting into a box. I had planned on putting the delicate electronics stuff in a plastic trash bag for protection from water, but ran out of time when packing and didn't bother. The carrier stacked the boxes about 7 feet high on a pallet and cling wrapped the whole pallet in plastic for loading into the container. For the TV, I bought a big moving box [] and wrapped it in bubblewrap inside the box. If you have an expensive TV, U-haul has a $90 TV moving box [] with foam inserts just like the original manufacturer's box.

When they delivered one of the pallets to my house, one of the pallets fell off the flatbed truck when they where wheeling it off, but with the exception of a few broken dishes, everything survived the fall -- including the computer.

Aside from that mishap, everything else came out fine.

I brought 2 backup hard drives with me on the plane - one in carry on, one in checked bags, but the hard drives in the shipped computers are fine. It's been almost 2 years, and I'm still using one of the computers as a fileserver and it's working fine with the drives that came from Hawaii.

Oh, if you want insurance, make sure you buy extra coverage - the default coverage from the carrier was like 25 cents a pound or something like that.

It worked for me (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | about 2 years ago | (#41570713)

I moved from the UK to NZ five years back and brought all my computer gear. I made sure I took the laptops and my backup discs in my carry on luggage but shipped everything else. Since power sockets are different here, I also shipped a bunch of distribution boards so I could still use my original cables and power bricks. Over time, I've retired some with replacements but I can't begin to say how much cheaper it was to keep it all. I didn't bring any white goods or my TV, but everything else I brought. The shipping company packed it all up but I had kept the boxes for everything do it all arrived in perfect condition.

Vibration, Shock and sea water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41570775)

Inside a container, they are mostly sealed, but as you said packs of Silica Gel, and --almost as good but much cheaper-- *rice* will absorb moisture almost as well as silica gel and is wildly cheaper. As you stated pull the hard disks, put them into the foam pack boxes that the drive manufacturers suggest [] , along with bubble wrap and silica gel. Ship the drives separately (air freight) if possible, with extra insurance, and back up all the data to DVD (or at least everything you consider irreplaceable). For the rest of the computer, pack peanut foam around the fans, and wrap everyhing else (the case) in plastic with silica gel packs inside. It would be best to remove all cards from the motherboard and wrap them separately in anti-static bags, then wrap that in bubble wrap and just keep it in the case of the computer. Heat isn't that big of an issue. 50 degrees celsius is perfectly fine for a (non-operating) computer. Most ship holds don't get above 35 C. The wiring insulation is good for 125 C, the aluminum is good for 660.3 C, any steel is good for about 1510 C. Plastics melt between 121 C and 255 C. Silicon has a melting point of 1,410 C (and within the chip there are aluminum interconnects and that melts as previously stated at 660.3 C. The chip manufacturers only put upper storage limits of 85 C however. Because they are hermetically sealed, there is no problem with chips getting 'wet' (if you are unsure, read what hermetically means). Copper for wiring has a melting point of 1,085 C, so that shouldn't be a problem either. Clearly heat isn't an issue. Now vibration and shock and physical damage due to rough handling, or due to an insecure load (container rolling on the waves) could be an issue. If the boat is small, the waves will batter it. If the computer is 'loose' in the container, it will get pounded to pieces. Secure the computer. Make sure it can't move within the container, and nothing can bang into it. Pack it in a fashion that would make an Air Force LoadMaster proud. That is your biggest concern.

Leave it all behind (2)

xonen (774419) | about 2 years ago | (#41570781)

Now you have all time in the world, but seriously. When you arrive at your new home, new job, new everything, you have, and want to have, other stuff on your mind than your old computer collection.

All you need, most likely, is one working, in a fashionable way, PC or laptop. Printers are not relevant as they are available in any corner of the world for $50. So is all your old data, if it doesn't fit on an SD card it's rubbish anyways.

Disassembling working hardware is a bad idea too, better leave the computer just as-is, in working order, than to dissassemble. That's only waiting for extra unanticipated problems.

Meanwhile, you are going to sit and wait 8 weeks without your hardware. You will find some replace, and use that.

Imho, the only reason to ship your old hardware is if you think over there where you going is a viable 2nd hand market for it. And even then you should wonder.

When migrating. Bring as little as possible. On bring stuff you have a strong bond with. To me, that would not be a set of computers, that for sure. One, maximum. And better even: just one usb-key with data.

You will have other things on your mind when you get there. Now you have all time of the world bothering this issue, even asking for it on /. In two months, you'll regret giving yourself the extra hassle of re-assembling your computer farm. Chances are it'll keep in boxes for the next year. And that you only unpack you furniture, and other comfortable stuff.

Ocean waves (1)

jonfr (888673) | about 2 years ago | (#41570791)

Your biggest problem is not heat or moisture. But sea water. Your biggest risk is that your container is going to get hit with ocean waves and it might leak. Sea water changes computer hardware into useless junk in no-time. So your best option is to backup all your data on hard-drives that you take with you when you move. Rest of your belonging is something that you just have to hope for the best during this 8 weeks at sea.

I am planning my own long distance move in few years time. This was one of the risk factors I did calculate into it. As I know it has happened containers have been lost at sea due to ocean waves hitting ships. So getting good insurance is also important if your belongings get lost or damaged in transit.

One thing you appear to have forgotten: (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | about 2 years ago | (#41570807)

Insurance on the contents.

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