Based on an Intel-funded study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, US businesses are losing billions of dollars a year on missing laptops. The survey discovered that in a one-year period, the 329 companies polled lost 86,455 notebooks, which averages out to 263 per organization.

It's suggested that the total economic impact of losing that many laptops is around $2.1 billion, which includes expenses like lost intellectual property and productivity, as well as legal, consulting, and regulatory fees. The average value of one lost notebook is said to be $49,246.

"Looking at these results, you can barely fathom the significant financial impact of missing laptops," said Intel. "More astonishing, considering the vulnerability of laptops and their data is that the majority of these companies aren't taking even basic precautions to protect them."

The study found that most companies don't take simple security measures such as encrypting and backing up data. Some 46% of the lost machines contained confidential information, but only 30% of those systems were encrypted and a mere 29% were backed up.

So, where are all the notebooks going? Surprisingly, only 25% of the systems are believed to be stolen (though thieves are suspected to be responsible for another) 15%. The remaining 60% simply vanished into the ether apparently, with the devices generically logged as 'missing'.

Some 40% of all the lost laptops disappeared in seemingly safe off-site locations, such as homes and hotel rooms. A third were lost while traveling via airports and so on, while 12% were misplaced in workers' offices. Only 5% of the missing notebooks are ever recovered.