Notebook PCs are ideal for small businesses. They make it easier to work flexibly. You can move from the office to a client location and back home again accompanied by all your programs and data. However, their very portability makes them easy to steal or lose.

There are several ways to keep laptops and the data stored on them safe. Sensible precautions include:

Locking them up. Use metal cables and locks to secure each laptop to a bulky object – like a desk – when in use. When laptops aren’t in use, hide them away in locked cupboards or drawers.

Being careful away from the office. Laptops are often lost to opportunist thieves. Keep hold of laptops in public places and do not leave them on display in cars. Choose laptop bags that don’t look like computer cases so that their contents are not so obvious to thieves.

Recording and registering. Mark all laptops using a permanent tag or etching. You should record all serial numbers and register each laptop with the manufacturer too. This way, if one goes missing, you’re more likely to get it back.

Securing your data. Encryption scrambles the files stored on school laptops so they can only be viewed with the proper authorization. Drive encryption option can also lock a hard drive so it will only work in one particular laptop when a password is entered. It makes the hard drive useless to thieves – even if they try to use it in another laptop.

Keeping files somewhere safe. Instead of saving sensitive files on laptops, store them on a central server. Your laptops can connect to the server securely, even when they’re being used away from the office. With this central, secure file store, you can reduce the risk of losing information.

Looking out for prying eyes. If you use a laptop in public places or on public transport, you can stop people seeing what’s on your screen with a Privacy Filter. This reduces the viewing angle of laptop displays, so people either side of the laptop just see a black screen.

Using strong identification methods. Usernames and passwords can often be guessed. To increase security, your staff and students can log on in other ways. Some laptops have fingerprint scanners built in. Alternatively, use a combination of smart cards (something you have) and passwords (something you know) to provide double security. Many notebooks are available with built-in smart card readers.