The number of tech gadgets we own has been growing, as has the number of criminals targeting high value goods like laptops and smartphones. While it is more likely to not happen, there is still a chance your laptop or phone could be stolen or go missing. When it does, you could lose important data, especially if you use this for your work too. To help increase the chances of finding your device you can install a program that tracks it.
Prey is an Open Source - free - program that you can install on your computer or mobile device and track it when it's missing, or been stolen.
How it works
First you have to download the software - from here - onto your computer (Windows, Mac or Linux are supported), and sign up for an account. You have a couple of options here: You can either sign up for an account with Prey and access a control panel through the website, or install it as a standalone which is recommended for advanced users as it requires some server configuration.
If you chose to go with the Web option you sign up for an account and install the software then register your main device along with extra ones like an Android, or your iOS device. Once you have downloaded Prey and linked them together, you are ready.
When your device is lost, you log into the Web Control Panel on Prey's site and can report it as missing. You can also turn on different actions which allow you to track the computer's location, network status and hardware usage. There are also other options like the ability to snap a picture using the webcam (if you have one), or even sound an alarm. You can even lock the system or phone ensuring people can't access it.
For mobiles, you can send these a text (from the Web Control Panel) which will initiate the established options you have pre-set for when your phone goes missing.
How Prey finds your device's location depends on the device. For laptops, it can turn-on your Wi-Fi connection and try to connect to the nearest access points. It can take the IP address of each Wi-Fi access point and from there get an approximate location - in some areas as close as 200 feet. On your phone, it turns on the GPS (if available) and tries to connect to Wi-Fi networks in range. These two combined can generate a fairly accurate location.
All this tracking information is sent to your inbox in the form of a report, which can be tailored to meet your needs.
What makes this program different from other similar ones is that it can be installed across multiple platforms and managed from one account. It's also free, which makes it even more attractive. There is also a Pro version which allows you to track more devices, for a monthly fee (USD$5 for 3 devices up to USD$399 a month for 500 devices).
Prey is just one of the many device tracking programs, and installing one may be a good idea, to give you a greater chance of retrieval if your phone or computer is lost or stolen. Do you use one already? If so, which one? If you would like to learn more about Prey and the other device tracking programs please let us know, we may have a great solution for you.