Worried About Theft? Track a Stolen Laptop for Free with Prey

May 17, 2011 - 13 Comments

Prey is Free Laptop Theft Recovery Software

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.

Prey is Theft Tracking and Recovery Software for Mac, Windows, and Linux

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.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Security, Tips & Tricks


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  1. AE says:

    is this compatible with windows 8?

  2. paritosh says:

    my laptop is stolen and im not istal pery software in my laptops.Tips to track my lappy

  3. Curvy01 says:

    Sorry guys but tracking your machine through its serial number will NOT work and Apple won’t help you. The best chance you have is installing anti-theft software like Prey and hoping the perpetrator isn’t that computer savvy. In most cases, theft is opportunistic so there’s a good chance of retrieval – if you have it installed in the first place – I didn’t so I speak from experience :(

  4. Sarah22 says:

    my computer among other things was stolen one of u said its possible to fine through the serial number and and computer number how can i do this it has my whole life on there and i really want to find if someone can help please

  5. Modernape says:

    It’s worth noting that unless you have a guest account enabled on your Mac, the thief will not be able to login, and therefore won’t be able to join any wifi networks, hence Prey won’t be activated.

  6. demaral says:

    I think the developers have done a great job . It works fine and I was amazing by Geolocalisation’s precision . If you read the FAQ and Kbase , you will get a lot of tips and answers to your doubts .


  7. icebreaker says:

    I use it on my MacBook, Windows laptop and on my Android phone. Really easy and works great, adress information was spot on when I tested it. You get a nice overview of all the information on their website :)

  8. M1Y4G1 says:

    You are wrong.

  9. Alberto says:

    Well, if I was a thief:
    1) I will not connect to internet
    2) I will mask the camera
    3) I will start the machine with an external HD
    3) I will reformat the internal HD asap

    I think that any thief will do the same because everybody knows that such programs or system exist…

    The only thing that can work to find a stolen machine is to track the machine through his serial number. I don’t know if it is possible using some software (?)

    • icebreaker says:

      You are right, if the thief erases the hard drive and never takes it to any store then their is almost no possible way to track your machine. It can be done if you have the serial and machine number.

    • James says:

      Thanks for the tip on this application. It seems like a great service, especially for free.

  10. czar says:

    Installed, thanks

  11. Douglas says:

    I installed Prey a few months ago when the once free Hidden started charging. Prey is better with more support, I would go so far as to say there is no better theft tracking software whether it is paid or not. I just hope I never need to use it. ;)

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