Track and Find Your Lost or Stolen Laptop With Prey For Windows, Linux and Mac

Written By Sam on 2 October 2010
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You have heard of cell-phones with mobile tracking, anti-theft and backup software. Now, here’s a track-and-recover solution for your laptop. Called Prey, the software is free to use for up to three devices of any kind, from computers running in Windows, Mac or Linux to Android devices. The open-source notebook-tracking service allows you to keep track of your phone or laptop at all times, and promises to help you find it if it ever gets lost or stolen. Let’s head straight to the pros and cons.

Pros of Prey

  • The service is free and is useful to a wide audience as it supports Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • It has an active development community aimed at improving and adding enhanced features to the service.
  • The program is almost invisible and runs quietly. It also goes online and checks in with Prey’s servers in the background, at an interval that you can set, to see if the owner has logged in and marked it as stolen. If there is no command to the laptop from your side to take any action, it will return to its passive mode till the next interval.
  • If the system does not have Web access at the time the software wants to check with the Prey server for instructions, it may try to connect to the nearest open Wi-fi access point.
  • If your laptop is stolen, you can log onto your Prey account from another computer and mark the laptop as missing. You will receive a report listing the IP address the laptop is connected to.
  • The Geo module uses Google’s Wi-fi location API to triangulate a laptop’s location. Similarly, the GPS chip in an Android can help to determine accurate positioning.
  • If your laptop has a built-in Webcam, the software comes in handy for taking photos of the thief.
  • The software also comes with an Alarm module for more drastic measures. It goes off in a bid to alert people around thief that the device is indeed stolen.
  • Other less subtle measures include Alert (a pop-up alert that comes up over anything else the thief may be doing) and password-protected Lock.
  • In case of Android devices, if the thief tries using the stolen device by installing a new SIM card, the new SIM number is captured and text-messaged to a contact you set up in the Prey options.
  • With the available information and a police contact, the software gives you a fighting chance to retrieve a lost device.

Cons of Prey

  • Being a freeware, there is no telling if the tracking network is being maintained. Many advise against free tracking software because there have been instances when such solutions failed to deliver. One such example is the Adeona tracking service that stopped all updates and eventually had to ask users to desist from downloading the application.
  • The software is not fool-proof, especially if the laptop falls into the hands of a savvy crook that has the system formatted.
  • The IP address of the stolen laptop can be figured only if the machine is online. So, it essentially depends on the assumption that the takes the device online or the software somehow manages to connect to a Wi-fi access point.
  • The ‘Webcam’ option may be a give-away if your laptop has a webcam that activates a light or LED before grabbing a picture.
  • Unlike some paid tracking solutions that align their activity with police support, for this one, you will have to be at your pro-active best to provide all the details you may have collected about the potential whereabouts of the thief.

Considering the above you may want to give Prey a chance. After all, it does come with a few impressive features that make it a freeware to reckon with.

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One Response to “Track and Find Your Lost or Stolen Laptop With Prey For Windows, Linux and Mac”

  1. Drivers Lord says:

    Very nice post, I surely love this site, keep it up.

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