My Laptop Was Stolen, Now What?

Having your laptop stolen would be the worst feeling in the world if you were not prepared.  All that precious data at the mercy of some fool who could have access to your financial records, bank/PayPal/eBay/email accounts, and the wealth of personal information that you have stored throughout the years–your pictures and personal data at the fingertips of a stealthy ninja laptop thief.  But what can you do to protect yourself and all of your personal digital belongings?

There are a couple things that we have talked about in earlier articles that is a great idea to help keep record of and stop intruders on your laptop.  Recording your serial number is a very vital step.  If ever stolen, this is irrefutable evidence that this is your laptop.  To have that serial along with the make and model of your laptop would be a great assit in recovering your device. Also, take the proper precautions with passwords and hardware locks for your PC.  But what else can you do to recover your laptop?

Locking Down The Fort

Prey for all of your devices!  Prey is a newer, free, open source project allowing users to register up to 3 free devices ranging from tablets, phones, laptops, and PCs to be able to track and record important information for retrieving your stolen item from a potential thief.  If you sign up for Pro, you will gain additional devices to subscribe, faster reporting, and larger report storage among other things for as little as $10/month or greater depending on ho many devices you would like.

Prey Laptop Recovery Software Installation And Setup

To get started, go to preyproject.com and click the Free Download button in the middle of the page.  The next page will provide download and ask if you have signed up for a free account yet.  If you haven’t yet, I would advise doing it while the program downloads to make the installation easier.  After downloading, run the program installer and begin.  It is a basic install, just keep clicking “Next” until you are finished.  It will then ask you to set the configurations for the program, do so.

stolen laptop

Stay with the first “Setup Reporting Method” and select “Next.”  On the following screen , keep “Prey + Control Panel” selected and hit “Next.”  On the third screen, click the second option, “Existing User.”

If you signed up for an account as specified earlier, enter your email and password here also what type of device this is.  You can also modify the name of the device here.

After you add the device and it is successfully set up, the program will close.  Either go to your Start Button and track down the “Configure Prey” program or double click on the desktop icon if created to launch it again.  You will see the same as pic 1 above but this time select the second option, “Manage Prey Settings.”  Check the “Wifi autoconnect” and “Enable guest account” boxes.  This will allow your device to connect to any open wifi available to the area to begin sending out the data you request.  Enabling a Guest account is a great idea because it will give the thief access to the device for only basic functions, allowing them to connect it to a network so Prey can send out the GPS info, take a pic with the onboard camera, allow you to activate alarms, and so on.

Guest accounts have limited access so you should have to worry about your files  or base settings being played with plus it may keep them from initially wiping the HDD if a laptop or desktop.  Apply these settings and the program will close again.

Reopen the program as we did above and this time select the bottom option “Options For Execution.” Make sure you keep “Run as a Windows Service” checked as that will make Prey much harder for a thief to get rid of it if spotted by a trained eye.  Also, you can select how often you would like reports to be generated and actions to be taken.  With the free account you only have a certain amount of space for the reports so I would advise either the 15 or 20 minute selection.  Hit “Apply” and we are mostly configured.

Go to the Prey homepage and log in to check out your newly added machine.  Hopefully you see the words “Ok” under the name of your PC.  If so all went well.  If not, it can be fixed by a simple removing and readding of the machine or worst case scenario, a reloading of the program.  The “Help” and “FAQ” sections are very helpful if there are any issues.  Click on your components name or the picture of it and you will be graced with all sorts of toggle switches and choices of how you would like to protect your device as well as reporting it stolen so Prey activates on it.  Check whichever you would like, as well as trying out any of the alarms to see if they function correctly.  Now you have piece of mind if your device ever disappears.

Stolen Laptop Summary

With all of the above information, all of your mobile devices should now be covered from a good majority of situations involving theft or mislocation.  If you are one of the people who are constantly misplacing your phone, this with the alarm feature might  be worth it just to help track it down when it falls into the sofa or is hiding around.  With all of the different options available at the touch of  a button should anything go wrong, you can feel safe and informed of your devices location.  Now you can supply the police with a screenshot of the perp (if a camera is attached of course), its GPS location, and the serial of the item to help in the recover process.  Piece of mind never felt so good!