Lost laptop, don’t worry, you will get it back.
Software which works as a ‘detective’ to track our lost or stolen laptop, Smartphone etc.
By Sajjad Amin Bangash
Computers, laptops, iPads, Smartphones are not only our precious assets but also valuable treasures for our data as well which serve as a storehouse for our pictures, videos, documents and other precious information as well.
What if, we lose or our laptops, computers, Smartphone etc. are stolen and what will be the state of our mind that time and how terrible circumstances we go through during such situations?
Well! Someone who had been through such tragedy may better tell us.
So let’s find if there is any solution to avoid such unwanted circumstances?
Off course there is a way out!
“Apple Incorporation” a world renowned vendor – best known for providing the most reliable and secured computer applications and hardware solutions. “Find My Mac” is an application by Apple which tracks our lost/stolen laptop, Smartphone or iPads. This application works as a detective from a remote location to track and trace the lost laptop, iPad or Smartphone and informs the exact location of it.
While, on the other hand Microsoft incorporation has not been able to release any application which works as a tracking application parallel to Apple’s “Find My Mac” application. Moreover, Windows 08 based tablets do not have such functions installed in it. But when your Windows based laptop or Smartphone is stolen, you need to install 3rd party application which can trace out the exact location of your stolen laptop or Smartphone. There are several software available in the market to carry out such tasks while, several other 3rd party applications are already available with laptop or Smartphone.
So how does “Tracking Software” work?
The procedures of tracking services for finding the lost or stolen Laptop or Smartphone are almost the same. For this, a “Tracking Software” is needed to be installed and then a login or account is created in that particular service so that after the lost of laptop or Smartphone, user must login in those websites and trace out the exact location of the stolen products remotely. It must be bear in mind that, as compared to Smartphone, finding and detecting the exact location of stolen Laptop is slightly difficult since; higher chances are that “Smartphone” remains connected with internet through Mobile Data or Wi-Fi. This way, the detective/tracking program will continuously transmit the survey report back to server by which an exact location of the device can be determined. However, it is difficult to predict about the Laptop that when it will be turned on and even it is turned on, then it is again difficult to determine that when it will be connected to internet. Although, such programs provide additional features to the user to stay protected from personal damages, however; tracing a laptop is a bit difficult as compared to tracing Smartphone.
*The benefits of “Tracking Softwares”:
Although the recovery of stolen products (laptop, Smartphone) is quite difficult in our societies but still trying to find them and recovering them is no harm. If you get to know about the location of your stolen device, immediate actions can be taken straightforwardly. Since, the ‘tracking programs’ not only inform about the exact location of the device but also relay adequate information such pictures taken with Webcam or device connected cameras, the screenshots of desktop, details about internet browsing, all the typed keys on the device etc. Similarly, features of call logging and text logging already exist in the Smartphone.
In regards to this, the free tracking programs have limited services which are however, adequate for a common user but with paid services, more and advanced features can be availed as well such a feature to delete all the files remotely within that device. In addition, these versions secretly work inside the device which the user is unknown with.
From Fork Ltd. USA ’Prey Software’ is a free web service for tracking and monitoring laptops, Smartphones and other electronic devices, based on an open-source software agent that connects to a host computer, also referred to as the control panel. The host can signal the agent, prompting it to reply with information about its current location, and can trigger various other actions.
Prey runs on most versions of Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android and iOS.
Besides, Prey is also available professional plans which can be purchased as well. However; for common users, free version of ‘Prey’ is fair enough for tracking their lost/stolen devices.
In the Prey free account, 03 types of devices can be configured.
* Pre-Smartphone Application:
In order to keep Smartphone protected from the shadow of “thieves”, “Prey Anti-theft Software” is considered to be the best application and this can seen from the fact of users who downloaded “Prey Software” in “App Store”. After downloading and installing this “App”, Smartphone or tablet can be remotely controlled. Besides, it gives additional benefits as:
- With the help of Geo-location, the exact location of the device/phone can easily be traced on the map.
- Pictures can be taken from the front and rear camera of the phone.
- Device can be locked anytime to keep it protected from any unwanted use by unknown person.
- A loud alarm can be rung in case of Mobile is turned silent.
- An alert message can be pop-up on the phone screen.
- The Cellular Network details on the mobile can be obtained.
* Prey-Software version for Laptop:
Now, let’s talk about the “Prey Software” version available for Laptop or Computer. After logging into Prey Software website (http://preyprojet.com), Pre-Software can be downloaded according to the current Operating System on the laptop. The required storage of the Pre-Software is 5.5 MB; therefore, Windows XP can be the best required Operating System (OS). Installation is very easy, just within few clicks, it can easily be installed and if you want to keep it off the preying eyes of unwanted people, you can install its drivers to any hidden folder of your own choice. Similarly, an important factor which needs careful understanding is that where it is asked during installation time as to whether “Do you want to create Shortcut for opening the application?”
Here, by checking “Do not create shortcuts” box will keep them protected and secured from any unauthorized access on your computer. Similarly, once installed, even you would not be able to identify the software on your computer since; no noticeable files can be found in the system which can identify the existence of this software on your computer/laptop.
The current available version of Prey software is 0.6.4 and after installation, by visiting the website of the software will notify you to upgrade the latest version. However, you can further upgrade it to 1.0.8 version and its total size is 5.7 MB. After the installation, this will ask you to “create your account” in Pre-Software. For this, you need to click on “New User” and click on “Next”. Even if you face problem in creating account in Mobile version, you still can login to their website by your computer as well. After creating ‘Login” into Pre-Software, the application starts functioning automatically as “Windows Service”. In addition, it also runs on the background without any apparent physical icon on the notification area of the task bar of your computer.
Now, if you want to configure it then within installation category, then run pre-config.exe file windows files inside platform folder. In ‘option for execution’, option, reports and frequencies of the actions can be set so that in case of any loss of the laptop, the software shall keep on sending reports to its server within the set time duration. Moreover, you can also see that “Prey Software” is actively allowed to work as “Windows Service”. This way, it will start functioning automatically within computer and its existence within laptop or computer will be difficult to control and detected.
“Track down your lost laptop”
After installing the ‘Prey Software”, the next process is to how to track down your lost/stolen laptop?
Now, in order to do this, you need to login to panel.preyproject.com and put all the information once you gave to create your login during the installation time of the software.
After getting into your login, you will see the entire list of your given devices and laptop will be shown here. Now, in case you have lost your laptop, then click on the name of this laptop in the control panel of “Prey Software”. On the next page, you will find options such as “My Device is missing” and “Locate Device”. If you have lost/stolen your laptop, then use “My Device is Missing” Option.
The point of importance is that “Prey Software” only attempts to track down the devices in case of lost or missing i.e., it does not track laptop or device all the time. It only attempts to detect of the missing device when it is being reported “Missing”. In addition, few additional actions can be taken through “Prey” such as “Alarm, Message and over lock”.
Alarm is only appropriate when your device is somewhere near around you since, with an alarm sound, you can find the location of your phone in your house, office or any place. As compared to Phone, sending alarms to Laptop is not that useful because in order to sounds of Alarm to be heard, the attached speakers/audio devices with laptop need to be turned on and internet connection are required as well. If you use Alarm option, then it rings the alarm sound for 30 seconds which uses varieties of Alarm sounds and tones such as Sirens etc.
By clicking on the “Send Message” option, you can send any message such your own email address or phone number etc. to the recipient so that your device can be returned back to you. The message is stored and through the internet, Prey conveys the message to the Laptop user.
Prey Software also uses “Locking” Option as well. By clicking “Locking” option, user has to provide a password once created during the time of creating login and unless, user does not provide this password, system cannot be locked. “The Locking” option works very effectively as when it receives the locking message, it immediately locks down the laptop. On a black screen, a text box is appeared in which a locking password has to be typed and it does not lock the system till a correct password is not given.
“How to track down the Device?”
After clicking “My device is missing button”, Prey automatically starts collecting its reports and as soon as the device gets connected to internet, Prey will automatically get connected back to server and starts transmitting the reports from time to time. The moment it receives the message that device is being as missing, it hurriedly starts piling up the initial reports. It is to be mentioned that report is only received once the laptop is turned on and duly connected to internet with prey software is actively installed in it. However; in advance version, the report is submitted with more advanced features.
As soon as the report is being received via email which will contain the link of the report and the report will contain information such as the Geographic location of the laptop, Network status, IP address, the screenshots of desktop, and the pictures taken by the webcam as well. It will start making a new report after every set 05 minutes and once available with internet, it will instantly transmit the alert to the original owner of the laptop. The most important parts of these reports are the ‘screenshots of desktop and pictures taken by the webcam attached to the computer and also other related information it retain. Prey will consistently keep making and sending reports from time to time which effectively help in tracking down the device promptly.
I think these are quite sufficient information for finding and tracking down your lost/missing laptop, Smartphone, iPad etc. which will help you greatly save your time and hectic efforts in finding your device.