There are quite a few laptop recovery software available in the market. Unfortunately, most of them are expensive and often require installation of additional hardware. Recently, we came across a possibly viable alternative called Prey.
The concept behind Prey is really simple. Basically, Prey works by monitoring a specified URL (such as http://stolen.techie-buzz.com/prey.txt). If it exists, Prey assumes that your laptop has been stolen and starts its sleuth activities. It collects a wide range of data on the user including
- Status of the computer
- List of Running Programs
- Active Connections
- Network and Wi-Fi information
- Screenshot of the Desktop
- Picture of the Thief (if the laptop has a camera)
The data is collected at regular intervals and sent to you via email. In order for this to work you also need to set up a SMTP server. Don’t worry if you don’t have one; you can simply use Gmail.
There is a big downside to software based laptop recovery solutions like Prey – they become useless if the thief simply formats the system. However, many thieves tend to dig around the stolen system in search of private data like credit card numbers before formatting – giving Prey enough time to do its work. Prey can’t compete with hardware based laptop recovery solutions, but is worth a try because it consumes minimal system resources and if you are lucky it may just save the day.