Tutorial Windows: Track and Hopefully Recover Your Stolen Windows Laptop or Phone

Mobile devices, laptops, and computers are no longer vanity objects, with one individual owning at least one of them. Coming in different shapes and size specifications, these can easily be carried around, which means they can become an easy prey for experienced thieves.

This is where the good part of global monitoring gets to show its face, and the technology exists to track almost any kind of device that’s connected to the Internet. For instance, the next time someone tries to sell you a phone down the street, imagine what measures you’d take if it were your own, with all the family pictures, or even business documents.

Sure enough there are chances that a stolen device is immediately flashed, or disconnected from any kind of connections, but if not, you still have a chance to locate it. There’s no built-in method to do this in Windows, but just like other activities, there’s an app for that.

Setting up an account and adding devices

Needless to say that you need to set up a few things before you get started, so that the application knows what it’s tracking and for whom. As such, a personal account needs to be created to act as the central command console, while a tracking application needs to be installed on all devices you decide to monitor.

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is go ahead and grab Prey for the device you want to track. It’s available for Windows PC, Mac OS X, iOS, as well as Android.

Step 2: Carefully run the installer. On a Windows PC, you also need to make sure .NET Framework is installed.

Step 3: When installation is done, choose to Set Up Prey and press Finish.

Step 4: Choose to create a New User and press Next.

Step 5: Fill in the Name field, email address, as well as password, and then press Sign Up.

Note: Be sure to write down an email address and password that are relatively secure and you won’t forget, because it’s the only way to access your account and manage devices.

Step 6 (adding a different device): Repeat steps 1 to 4 on the new device you want to add. When you reach Step 4, choose to sign in to an Existing User instead of a new one.

Note: If you haven’t added the email address you wanted, or simply want to add the device to a different account, simply run the installer again and go through the same steps.

Caution: When installing the application on a mobile phone, make sure to create a backup of all important data and contacts. In order for everything to run smooth, permission is required to erase all data or close the phone if declared missing, or one too many wrong login attempts are made.

Accessing the account and managing devices

The application you install as described in the steps above doesn’t have an interface or any controls. This prevents thieves from knowing something fishy is going on, with all controls and actions managed from a web interface, accessible from any location or platform that has Internet access.

Step 1: Open up a web browser and visit this website.

Step 2: In the top right corner, press Sign In and write down your credentials.

Step 3: Click on devices to view locations and gain access to actions.

With all devices now reached, security measures are a few mouse clicks away. Selecting a device shows its location, as well as a list of actions and info to grab.

Taking action

Pressing the Sound Alarm button sends a signal to the specific device. For a duration of 30 seconds, the system volume is maxed out, while one of the sounds you select is played out loud.
Maybe your laptop or phone didn’t get stolen after all, and someone just found it where you forgot about it. Even if you can’t tell when or if this happens, you can send a message to the specific device.
If there’s personal info on the lost device and Prey tells you it’s online, it’s best to lock it down so it can’t be used. Pressing Lock Device asks for a password, covering the target device’s screen with a black layer and password field, making it unusable until the code is provided.
Choosing to declare a device as missing doesn’t perform any noticeable actions on the target device. A report is instantly generated, with options to set frequency of getting new ones. Screenshots are taken, as well as pictures if any camera is connected.
In the joyful event that you successfully recover missing devices, you can make the service stop sending reports and pictures. Simply select the specific device from the list, and choose to Set Device To Recovered.

Hint: If you’re tracking a laptop or mobile phone, it’s sure to be equipped with a Wi-Fi adapter. Just to make sure the device is reachable, go to the Settings page in the web interface, down to Device Management, and choose to Try to Connect to an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot if no Internet Access is Detected.

Important Note: Everything works just fine as long as the device can access the Internet. Make sure to enable Wi-Fi for mobile devices and let your laptop connect to any hotspot.

In conclusion

Sure enough, this method is not fool-proof, and is sure not to work against expert thieves, the device manages to have its memory wiped, or there’s no Internet for the device to connect to. However, there’s still some hope left for humanity, and chances are the one that’s got your phone or laptop simply found it where your brain decided to leave it without telling you.

Wagiman Wiryosukiro

Petani Sistem Informasi, tukang las plugin & themes Wordpress. Co-Founder SistemInformasi.biz. Saat ini aktif sebagai Developer & kontributor di OpenMandriva Linux.

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