Track and find your stolen Laptop : Prey

If your laptop gets stolen, it could be lethal in so many ways, your personal documents, and confidential official data as well as some other info like your bank account details, etc. can be lost, and end up being with somebody who would be keen enough to misuse them.

What is Prey ?

It is a small and lightweight application which once installed on your laptop helps you in tracking your lost Laptop at certain intervals (5 minutes to 55 minutes).

Prey is easy to configure

First you need to register with Prey online which gives you an API key and a Device key. These keys can be now used with the prey client application installed in your computer. This way your computer can communicate with the central servers of Prey.

Now, How to get the Device and API key?

Once you have created an account with Prey, login and click on the orange button (which reads Add new device) towards the bottom right of the page.

Later you will have to enter the details, like name of your device (Title), device type, Operating System and Operating System version.

Once you are done with this step, you will be redirected to a page which has both the device and API keys.

Configuring the Prey Client on your laptop

Now install the downloaded Prey setup, and when it tells you to Configure Prey choose any of the http or email option, and enter the values so, in my opinion the http option is better and more easy to use.

Confguring API and Device Key for Prey

How does Prey Track your laptop ?

Now if your laptop gets stolen you will have to set the status of your device configured in the online Prey account as Missing. This will start all the mambo jumbo reporting and action modules to trigger and start tracking your device. It helps you track in 3 sections.

Reporting and Application modules


#1 Tracking by IP Address and Traceroute

Now the most important catch in this report configuration is Turn the network information on. This is essential so that if get an authority for getting your laptop back you will need the IP addresses and Traceroute to find the exact location of your laptop.

Prey network information

Prey network information

#2 Snapshot, Desktop Screenshot and File changes

Now the next important thing you will have to look out is that you can get a snapshot of the thief. This works because as soon as you report your laptop to be missing, the program will take snapshot using the webcam and also a snapshot of the desktop screen.

These can act as an evidence when you claim your laptop and proof against the thief.  Also the software will track file changes which will safeguard any confidential or sensitive files you might have.

Snapshot of Thief

#3 Public Alarm

Now if you are lucky enough and the laptop is turned in a public place with an open wi-fi spot near by, Prey also lets you configure to run on an audio alarm and display message on the screen which can catch the attention of people if your laptop gets turned on in a public place.  You can add your phone number so people can call you if somebody catches the thief.

Final Verdict :

Prey is an excellent application to track your stolen laptop but make sure you configure it right and test it completely.It’s free, open source and works like a charm and best it doesn’t let the thief know its running on the background.

However remember the application helps you to track but not get you the stolen laptop, so the information gathered for the reports will have to be used along with police agency to pin point the thief. So it’s the police that will help you get it, Prey will only help you track.

One suggestion I would like to add to the Prey team. The alarm thing is excellent but one should be allowed to trigger it remotely. In case the user is not in public there is no use of triggering it.

Visit Prey homepage