Worried About Theft? Track a Stolen Laptop for Free with Prey
If you travel with a laptop often, do yourself a favor and install Prey, it’s free theft tracking and recovery software that really works. Prey is basically a tiny daemon that runs in the background on your Mac (or Windows or Linux PC) that does nothing until it receives a signal indicating the hardware is missing or stolen via the Prey website or an SMS… then the magic happens.
Once Prey is activated, it starts gathering the following information and enables these features:
- Current hardware location via GPS or WiFi triangulation, shown on Google Maps
- Force connections to nearby WiFi to transmit data
- Pictures of the thief via the laptops built-in camera
- Network information and IP addresses
- Screen shots of the desktop and application usage, to find out what the thief is doing on your computer
- Hardware status
- Remotely lock down the hardware, requiring a password and displaying a “STOLEN” message
- Remotely clear your saved passwords
- Remotely sound an alarm (think car alarm for your laptop)
All of this data is silently gathered unbeknownst to the perpetrator, allowing you to collect information to help law enforcement (or yourself) track down your stolen goods and return them to the rightful owner.
You can download Prey for free at PreyProject.com (Mac, Windows, Linux, Android compatible)
Installation is simple and there is practically no overhead, it just runs quietly in the background waiting to be activated. In addition to being free, the app is also open source so if you can check out the source code yourself if you’re into that sort of thing.
Here’s the most important part, Prey actually works to recover stolen hardware. You may have read about this recently when a popular tech authors MacBook Pro was stolen and he successfully tracked the machine down in and recovered it using Prey.
Check out this video of Prey in action, and then go install it yourself. It’s free, it works, there’s no reason not to install this if you have a laptop you care about:
Prey is almost fully cross platform compatible and installs in Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and Android, there’s just one noticeable exception for now, no iPhone and iPad version. I’m guessing the lack of iOS support is because iOS won’t allow the installation of background daemons without a jailbreak, but nonetheless Prey Project says they’re working on it, so cross your fingers and we’ll keep you updated if an iPhone version comes available.
Finally, if you’re an enterprise customer or you want to protect multiple machines with Prey, that’s when a fee starts kicking in, but for most users with just one computer to track, it’s free, which can’t be beat.