Tech Savvy: Lost and Found


Recently I discovered a piece of software that can help you find your computer or phone if it is lost or stolen. The software is called Prey and it can be downloaded for FREE from It works on Apple computers, Microsoft Windows PC’s, Linux computers and Android phones. They are currently working on an app for the iPhone.


The way it works is pretty neat. You create an account on their website and then download and install the software on your computers. The free version allows you to install the program on a maximum of 3 devices. If you need to install it on more than 3 devices, they have several paid subscription plans to choose from based on the number of devices you wish to protect.


Once you have created your account and installed the software, you don’t need to do anything else….until you lose possession of your device. If your Prey-protected device goes missing then you log in to their website with your account and you mark your device as missing. The next time your computer or phone has an internet connection it will “check-in” with the Prey server. When the device checks-in, the Prey server gathers many pieces of information to help you location the computer and emails that information to you as a report.


For example, if you have a laptop with a built-in web cam, Prey will silently turn on the web camera and include pictures from it in the report so you can see who is at the keyboard of your precious laptop. Prey will also send information about near by WiFi/Wireless network access points. This is useful because you can use this information to determine an approximate Lattitude and Longitude based on which WiFi networks your computer can “see”.


Prey also allows you to trigger a loud alarm noise on the missing device which would be helpful to possibly scare the thief away from your machine or possibly help you figure out where in the house you might have dropped your phone. There are other options as well.


Prey also runs “silently” in the background on your computer so that a thief would not be able to tell that it is even installed and working on the machine. About the only way the thief could get around Prey would be to completely erase the hard drive on the computer and re-install the operating system. Since this is not a very simple of quick thing to do, I suspect most thieves would not go to the trouble to do it.


As I said at the beginning of this article, they have not release a version for the iPhone yet, but they are working on it. In the meantime, you can use the “Find my iPhone” service from Apple to help keep track of your iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad. It’s pretty simple to set up and as of a few months ago, Apple has made it FREE for certain devices(iPhone 4, iPod Touch 4 and iPad). I will let you do the “Googling” to find out how to set that up. Think of it as a fun homework assignment. I will even give you a hint…search Google for “find my iphone free”