How to track down your stolen laptop using a free utility

As our computing needs become increasingly mobile, we are becoming more and more dependent on mobile devices such as Laptops, PDAs and Smart-phones. Often times, we get so much use to our digital device and depend so much on it, that the thought of it being stolen  sends shivers and if such a theft does happen, it renders our daily ability to perform properly useless. This article discusses "The Prey Project" which essentially is a free open source based project, providing a free application that  can be remotely activated and sends in information including a stealth web cam capture of the user, the IP address and quite possibly the network and the location of your laptop. Its basically a tool that lets you track down your stolen laptop

  Before we go into the actual installation of the application and show you how it works, I would like to make it clear that this is not the only application of its kind that will do that. More sophisticated and commercial applications do exist in the marketplace, which might even be more stealthier and better. There are pros and cons to any piece of software, the biggest pros on this is that its lightweight, it can run on any platform and operating system and its open source and completely free.

Prey does not consume any resources in your day today operation of your laptop, it sits there silently, until is activated remotely through the Prey Projects website. When activated, it gathers all the information and sends it to Prey's central web control, which comes in very handy in locating your laptop and apprehending the culprit.

Last but not least, there is one caveat, the laptop does need to make some sort of internet connection in order to send you the relevant information, hence the culprit would have to bring it online in order for the notifications to be sent.



- Go to Preys website and register


Step 2:

- Log on to the site and click on Add Device


Step 3:

- Provide Title, Type of Device (Portable or Desktop) and Operating System (Windows, Linux or Mac) 


Step 4:

- Make note of your new Device Key


Step 5:

- Under User Information, make note of your API key


Step 6:

- Download from, Start installing Prey, click next to proceed


Step 7:

- Agree to the agreement

Step 8:

- Choose Default Start Menu folder


Step 9:

- Click Finish


Step 10:

- When you click Finish the Prey Configurator will come up. Choose the method to be http and fill in your Device key and API key you obtained earlier. 


Step 11:

-  Now to see your Device and modify it, go to, login and click on your device (Ours was called name Desktop).


Step 12:

- Click to set it to missing and update to see various reports show up. We recommend if your device does not have a web cam, turn that option off and also turn the "Action MOdules - Alert" to be off, as it displays a popup on the screen for the theif that he has been tagged by project prey. You can also leave the "time between executions" to be default 10 minutes

That's it,   Restart your machine and dont forget to set the device missing to off when done your testing.

There will always be the big debate, as to, what if the thief formats your hard drive ? Yes if the hard drive is formatted, then the monitoring program will be gone and you will not be alerted. There are commercial programs available that operate at the system BIOS level which can not be wiped even if the hard drive is formatted or replaced, but this is a simple, free and open source piece of program. It will at least provide some protection, which is better than to have no protection at all, like it says, it keeps "that tiny bit of hope alive". Experience and statistics show that thieves tend to "look into" the stolen laptops more often than to just format the hard drive or replace it right away.

If you want to share your ideas, any other software of the similar kind that you use, or simply want to provide feedback, you can always contact us by leaving us a comment here or by using the Contact Us form.

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Pls tell us the commercial

Pls tell us the commercial software that locks the BIOS

if any thief format my laptop

if any thief format my laptop then?

If the laptop is formatted,

If the laptop is formatted, then yes the theft protection will be lost. Howeever, remember there is a good chance they would power on the laptop to do that, if they do and there is an active internet connection, this trick will work

Useful article

Thanks, looks like a good application, will give it a try

good application for BIG Brother that is...

Go ahead, install this and make it so much easier for the government to monitor your daily activities. I say easier because they already do it, but now you're giving them permission. Yes, a small distinction but really an important one. If you think I'm being paranoid, better do some homework and wake up to the stink of the global police state. You think the police are going to use this info to help get your laptop back? Try asking the police to do anything truly helpful, you'll know what I'm talking about.


WOW, hear voices much??

Like anyone would just power

Like anyone would just power up a stolen laptop... They pull the harddrive out and format it before they power any stolen laptop up... - no software will protect you from that.

Data Thief

Not all thieves are smart or paranoid enough to pull the drive instead of using the laptop.