Train Your Laptop to Phone Home When Stolen

Last Updated Jun 11, 2009 11:16 AM EDT

Worried about losing your laptop to a thief? You should be -- about 600,000 claims are filed each year in the U.S. alone. Thankfully, there's Prey, a free utility that helps you locate a stolen laptop.

Prey can be configured to "phone home" every time the laptop is turned on, or only if it finds a URL that you specify during setup. The idea of the URL approach is to minimize spamming yourself; if the unthinkable happens, just quickly configure the URL (such as a subfolder at your blog site, for example). The next time the laptop is turned on, it transmits a bevy of data, including network information, what programs are running, and even a snapshot (if the system has a Webcam) of the perp.

The bad news: Prey hasn't been translated into English yet. Not the Windows version, at any rate -- Mac and Linux users are good to go. That said, I had ho trouble installing and configuring the program anyway, and I don't even speak Pig Latin.

Prey isn't the only program of its kind, but it is free and easily configured. If you're looking for other options, don't forget to check some other freebies, including LocateMyLaptop and Loki, plus the $50/year Laptop Cop. [via ghacks]


Market Data

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

Market News

Stock Watchlist

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App