The average value of data stored in email on a user's laptop exceeds half a million pounds according to a new research study.

The price is over 500 times the average cost of the hardware alone.

In the survey, carried out by Symantec, 78% of laptop users across Europe, Middle-East and Africa stated that the data on their device is of substantial value in terms of intellectual property or commercially sensitive information, with the average estimate being in the region of £550,000.

Some respondents claimed that their mobile device was worth as much as £5 million.

The study also highlights that just 42% of companies automatically back-up employees email on laptops, while 45% actually leave backup to the users themselves.

80% of respondents were under the misconception that their employer had a safe copy of all the emails on their PC.

The results where taken from 1,700 quantitative interviews with general employees and IT managers with responsibility for their company's email system.

All the companies involved have 500 or more employees from a variety of sectors across Europe, Middle-East and Africa; 15 in-depth qualitative interviews were also conducted.