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Track Down your Stolen Laptop Using Prey

Prey is a lightweight program that will help you track and find your laptop
 if it ever gets stolen. It works in all operating systems and not only is it Open Source but also completely free.

Description

Prey helps you find your stolen laptop by sending timed reports to your email with a bunch of information of its whereabouts. This includes the general status of the computer, a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and — in case your laptop has an integrated webcam — a picture of the thief.

Prey can use a web URL to check if it should generate and send the report, so you have a way of alerting remotely the program whenever your laptop disappears. It can (and should) be run as root so it doesn’t depend on an active user session to run, but only on a succesful boot.

You may be thinking “but what’s the point of this program if the guy will probably just format the thing right away?” and you’re completely right. However, experience shows that thieves tend to look in stolen computers for valuable information, so there’s actually a chance you can catch the guy (and there’s even some succesful cases!).

Besides, if by using Prey you can keep alive a tiny bit of hope that you’ll recover your computer, isn’t it already worth it?

You can also be safe about your personal information. Prey only sends the data to the address you specify and nowhere else. Best of all is that you don’t even have to take our word for it: you can make sure by checking personally since the code is completely open!

How it works

When you install Prey, you set up an email address and optionally a URL (i.e. http://mypage.com/stolen_laptop).

Prey runs at a specified interval and checks the URL you previously defined. If theURL exists, Prey will gather the information and send it to the email address you set up. You can also not define a URL and in that case the program will send the data every time it runs.

Of course, Prey needs to have an active Internet connection to send the information. If the computer isn’t connected, Prey will attempt to connect to the first public Wifi access point available.

Installation

Linux users

Just download the package, unzip it and run the install script:

$ chmod +x install.sh
$ ./install.sh

Mac users

Just download the DMG package, mount it and run the installer.

Windows users

First of all, if you’re using XP or lower you need to make sure you have the .NET framework installed. You can download it directly from Microsoft’s web site.

After downloading the package, unzip and execute as an administratorPreyConfig.exe. Fill in all the fields, tick the “Activar Prey” checkbox and then click on “Activar”.

Installation notes

·         We recommend you use the default installation path for your system, since it’ll make it easier for updating or removing Prey in the future.

·         You should use the full URL in Prey’s setup, such as http://preyproject.com(not just preyproject.com).

·         If you are using Gmail as your SMTP server (smtp.gmail.com), the correct port is 587 an you need to activate SSL.

Updating

Same as above, just download the package and run the installer.

In both systems, the installer checks if there’s already a Prey installation in your computer and allows you to skip the configuration. However we recommend you configure the data again since the new version may have new features to configure.

Download

Prey is licensed under the GNU Public Licence v3.0. If you want to check or contribute to our repo read further down.

Removal

In Windows you just need to open PreyConfig.exe and untick the “Activar Prey” checkbox. Then you can delete safely Prey’s files, wherever you originally put them.

In Mac or Linux you need to remove the folder where you installed Prey (by default /usr/share/prey) and aditionally the respective crontab line for executing Prey (root’s by default). You can do so in the terminal:

$ sudo rm -Rf /usr/share/prey
$ (sudo crontab -l | grep -v prey) | sudo crontab -

 

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