We take our laptops out to public places with increasing frequency - it seems you can’t move in most coffee shops for a slew of portable devices. This, sadly, does mean that our computers are more at risk from theft too. All it takes is an absent minded second and your shiny new laptop is swiped from a table or bag and you can lose everything. Work documents, family photos and video not to mention all those other things like website log in and banking details that we increasingly keep on our computers.

Should your laptop be stolen there is very little you can do to get your property or information back unless you’ve taken some proactive steps to minimise your risk. Setting up simple things like a password for your account and making sure that you’re not logged in automatically are just the basics. The next step is to install some tracking software so you can help recover your equipment should it ever be stolen.

Tracking software might sound a bit draconian, but it has genuinely helped people be reunited with stolen laptops. There are plenty of solutions out there and they all perform in much the same way. A small software application is installed and when the laptop is turned on it reports the location by checking IP address info and, often, wireless base station settings. All you have to do is log on to a website, enter you password and all that information will be available to you.

Some of the tracking applications allow you to log on to the machine and copy across any of your data, even take control of the device to shut it off or wipe it completely. The tracking software can even work if the laptop is wiped.

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