Having your laptop lost or stolen can be a horrible experience. Thanks to the light, easy to use, and Open Source project Prey, you can set it up to find your laptop, netbook, desktop, or Android device if it’s lost or stolen.
For this tutorial we’re using a Windows 7 netbook, but it also works on Mac, Linux, and Android devices. There’s no support for iOS devices but hopefully that will come in the future.
Download and Setup Prey
1. Head over to the Prey Project site and download the software.
2. Then install it on your system. The installation process is easy, just follow the defaults.
Configure Prey to Track Your Computer
1. The first thing you’ll want to do is setup the reporting method.
2. Go with the recommended setting Prey + Control Panel and click next. One you become more familiar with using the program you can change advanced settings.
3. Set yourself up as a new user.
4. Enter in your name, email, and password. Under Device Settings give it a title and notice for Device type you can select Portable or Desktop…hey you never know…if your place happens to get robbed, you’ll be glad you have Prey on your Desktop.
5. Then you’ll see the following messages letting you know the account was created, you will get a confirmation email, and that the configuration was successful.
6. Check the email you provided for the confirmation message and it will point you to the Prey Control Panel page where you can log in.
7. Then you will see your device(s) listed in the control panel.
8. To test it out or if your device actually is lost or stolen, click on the device you want to configure. This brings you to a control panel where you have several options. Under Current status set it to missing and set the frequency of reports and actions.
9. Then set the information you want the reports to gather and the actions you want it to preform. We have Geo Location setup on the netbook so we turned that on, sounding an alarm that sounds like a siren to the thief, or so you can find it, set an alert message, and locked the machine.
You can leave the defaults for the alert message and password to unlock it, or change them if you want.
10. We also set it to have Prey get a screen and webcam shot. After you’ve made your selections make sure to click Save changes.
11. Here’s an example of what the thief will see when they try to log into the computer.
12. Depending on what you set the report interval time for, you’ll receive your first report. Click on the link to go to the Prey site and read the report.
13. Since Geo Location is enabled, you’ll get a map of the general location of where your computer or device is located.
14. We also set it up to take a screenshot of the desktop which will be included in the report. Then you can see what type of activity is going on, and verify it’s your machine or device. We also had it set to take a webcam shot, so you’ll have a picture of the culprit caught red handed included in the report.
15. After you’re done testing it or finding your computer or mobile device, go back into the Prey control panel and set everything back to where it was before it was lost or stolen. Otherwise it will keep sending you reports, sounding alarms, taking screenshots, etc..
If you are looking for a way to protect your computers and / or devices running Android from being lost or stolen, Prey is a brilliant solution to the problem. Oh, and did we say it’s free? Can’t beat that!