Technology computers-hardware

The LoJack of Laptops

Everyone has probably already heard about LoJack. It's basically a tracking service for cars that kicks in when a car gets stolen. It does this through a GPS device hidden somewhere inside the vehicle that automatically contacts the owner and the authorities if it senses that the car has been forcefully entered.

Because of the portable nature of laptops, it was only inevitable that something similar to LoJack would be developed for them. After all, once your laptop is outside the house, the chances of it being stolen are significantly increased. Nothing but your constant vigilance can guarantee that it and its laptop parts won't get pilfered from right under your nose.

Just to reiterate: To truly safeguard your laptop and its laptop components from scheming no-goodniks, something like a LoJack for laptops would have to be created; and wouldn't you know it, tech companies went and did just that!

Like the car theft hindering device, these programs work by letting your laptop's internal GPS indicate its location. A lot of these programs have been made, including Lalarm, Adeona, and even a Firefox plugin called Fire found.

If you ask me, though, a little program called Prey could probably give all the others a run for their money. Aside from the GPS locator, it also works by analyzing the nearby Wi-Fi networks of whichever place your laptop happens to be in. It also screencaps whatever the thief is using your laptop for; and if your portable computer has a camera, it can even take a picture of the perpetrator. Best of all, it's a free open-source app.

The Preliminaries

Setting up Prey is as easy as pie. Simply head on over to to download the appropriate version of the program for your computer (that is, according to which operating system your laptop runs on). Once downloaded, install it on your computer. You will then be asked to go through the usual registration motions.

After this is done, you will be given an API key which you'll need to configure Prey. You will also need to get a device key, which you can acquire by adding your laptop to your online Prey account. Doing so is also pretty self-explanatory. Just click on €Add new device€ and proceed from there.

The Good Stuff

After everything has been set up, you'll find that your laptop does€¦ absolutely nothing. You can have someone steal it for you to have the program tested, but I'm willing to bet most of you would find that rather counter intuitive.

Suffice it to say that when your laptop does get stolen for real, Prey does its purpose admirably. Just log onto their website and initiate the tracking using your activation keys. If you do this, you will receive an email immediately after the thief turns on your laptop. The email gives you the necessary location and tracking details for you to recover your computer.


Of course, if the thief has the good sense (€good€ being a relative term) to refrain from turning on your laptop before his precautionary measures are enacted, Prey couldn't be activated in the first place. Also, once your laptop's hard drive is reformatted, or if it's stripped down to individual laptop components and sold for parts, Prey wouldn't be able to do a thing either.

What I'm trying to say is that Prey isn't perfect; and frankly speaking, no technology exists yet that safeguards your laptop 100%.

That said, its functions are pretty robust, and it would do you well to avail of it. Like I said, it's free.

What have you got to lose?

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