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LAlarm LogoLaptop theft is growing at alarming proportions. One laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, according to Gartner. A study by Dell revealed that over 12,000 laptops are lost in US airports every week. There are different ways to secure your laptop against theft, but in this article, we’ll show you a free way to improve your laptop security.

LAlarm is a free laptop security alarming software. It has several different alarms to help protect your laptop, the most important of them being the Theft Alarm.

Install LAlarm

Download and install the free laptop security software here. LAlarm is free for personal use, and version 4.0 works with Windows Vista, XP (SP2 or SP3). On Windows 7, you can try the latest beta version 5.0. The download is less than 1MB, and the setup program looks the same as the main program that you launch after installation.

Main Window


LAlarm runs as a background process when you start your laptop. In my tests, it took up an insignificant 7.5MB of memory, so you probably won’t even notice that it is running.

Improve Laptop Security and Protect Against Theft

Securing your laptop is simple and can be done in two ways:

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1. If your laptop is connected to a power outlet, simply lock it with the Win+L key shortcut

2. If there is no power outlet available:

a) Use a neck-strap or USB extension cord with any old flash drive and insert it into a USB port

b) Tie the neck-strap or cord to a firm table

c) Lock the laptop with the Win+L shortcut

The LAlarm website shows an example of how this is done:

lock-laptop

That’s it. Now, when someone attempts to steal your laptop, either the power cord or the USB flash drive will get disconnected from the laptop. This triggers the Theft Alarm, and the thief will get a nasty shock because the laptop will emit a loud siren like a car alarm. In my testing, I was worried about neighbors rushing to see what was happening! The alarm stops only when you unlock the laptop by entering your login credentials.

For additional laptop security, you can also enable the Inattention Alarm in the Options > Alarm tab. This will trigger if there is a specified period of inactivity on your laptop in unsafe zones. Let’s see what “unsafe zones” are next.

Options Main

Restrict Laptop Use To A Safe Area

You can use IP addresses to define “Safe Zones” in which your laptop is considered safe. If anyone tries to use it outside the pre-defined safe zones, it triggers the Perimeter Alarm.

Safe Zone IP Address

The Inattention Alarm also makes use of these zones, so that alarms don’t go off when you take a lunch break at work.

Email and SMS Alerts

After installation, one of the first things you probably want to do is setup email alerts for the alarms, for which you can only use a Gmail account and need to supply your Gmail password. As this is software installed locally on your laptop, you need not be concerned about supplying your Gmail password. LAlarm sends you a test email to verify that the email is working properly.

Inbox Alerts

You can also configure SMS alerts to your mobile phone using Email-to-SMS gateways. Note that these alerts will work only if there is an Internet connection present at the time of laptop theft.

Automatically Destroy Data In Case Of Theft

In case your laptop does get stolen, you can configure LAlarm to automatically destroy pre-defined data folders. You set these via the Options > Destruction tab.

Options Data Destruction

In addition to destroying data, you can also run any custom programs you want to execute in case of theft from the Options > Theft Response tab.

Battery and Disk Protection Alarms

LAlarm also has Disk and Battery protection to help you maximize your laptop battery life and warn you of impending hard disk failure. The battery alarm is triggered at low battery levels that you can customize, and works with Li-ion type batteries.

Doesn’t this laptop security software sound too good to be free? Will you use it to protect your laptop against theft? Let us know in the comments!

  1. John in Austria
    November 8, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Oh yes, I locked the laptop with Win+L as the password screen came up each time. I guess statistics say it's not got to work on some machines. I am using a German-made "Gericom X-5" with German language Vista installed. Doubt that has anything to do with it, but maybe.

    • James
      November 9, 2009 at 11:08 am

      I encountered the same problem but solved when I followed the instruction in the manual:
      The manual says "If you just turned on or restarted the computer, wait until a LAlarm icon appears in the notification area (bottom right side of the screen) before locking the computer." Hope this solves the problem, otherwise why don't you contact the tech support?

      • John in Austria
        November 10, 2009 at 2:56 am

        I must have a strange computer. No Lalarm icon appears in the system tray no matter how long I wait, but thanks for the tip. I missed that one. Another point, I always get a "critical error" message when Lalarm runs for awhile. Sorry, but guess it is not going to work. Thanks for the help.

  2. John in Austria
    November 8, 2009 at 7:10 am

    A further note, one thing I notice is the "Enable Theft Alarm" is checked but sorta grayed out. I noticed this also on the review photos from "Make Use Of". Is this a problem?

    • Mahendra Palsule
      November 8, 2009 at 8:39 am

      @John in Austria: No, the grayed and checked "Enable Theft Alarm" is not a problem. It remains that way.

      Once again, I can only think of ensuring that you are locking your laptop with Win+L before "pulling the plug". Other than that, I can't see any reason why it shouldn't work.

  3. John in Austria
    November 8, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Hi! I'm using Windows Vista SP1 on a new laptop with 2 GBs RAM. My speakers are on and nothing happens when I "pull the plugs!" I was hoping this might kinda cool for travel.

  4. John in Austria
    November 8, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Has anybody got this alarm to work? I tried every setting, downloaded sound files, restarted the computer I don't know how many times, and I can still unplug my power cord and/or remove the USB cable and nothing happens. Nada!

    • Mahendra Palsule
      November 8, 2009 at 6:54 am

      @John in Austria: Which version of Windows are you using? I assume you're locking the laptop with Win+L. Sorry, but I can't say what might be the problem.

      Their site says it has not been tested with 64-bit Vista, but even that worked great in my case.

  5. Ashley
    November 8, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Great idea. However, this doesn't help you get the laptop back. I really doubt the thief will decide to return your laptop because he is annoyed with the results - he'd probably just dump it somewhere.

  6. informative
    November 1, 2009 at 5:53 am

    I love this one.
    regarding the power off issue, how about delay some time when power button is pressed? The first reaction of thief when the alarm is on may will be press the button to switch laptop off, the second one may be remove power and battery. If software can increase the time of his first trial, he may run away before someone check around the alarm...

  7. leon
    October 29, 2009 at 5:01 am

    there's another one called preyproject, similar to this

  8. jack
    October 28, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Yes, I will use it to protect my laptop. It is a good add-on for my laptop.

  9. Dom
    October 28, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Im guessing most thieves wont have as much knowledge as you!

  10. Chanio
    October 28, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Sorry for being a spoiler. But, what happens if the burglar...
    * before stealing the laptop, he switches it off?
    * and then boots it with a Linux Live CD like Ubuntu or Knoppix?
    * and then, copies the important folders?
    * and finally, reformats all the drives and sells the laptop?

    Sorry, also if I missed something of this interesting post.

    alberto

    • Bud
      October 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

      If everyone were smart, no one would be the cows graze :). Turkish proverb.

    • Mahendra Palsule
      October 29, 2009 at 6:13 am

      @Chanio: No problems with being a spoiler! :)

      First, I think you are right - powering down the laptop would be a way to bypass LAlarm.

      Here's what we need to consider:

      - If you were a thief, would you really power off and wait for Windows to shut down before snatching a laptop in a hurry?

      - No security software is foolproof. Security is just a matter of reducing risk. With this free software, what we achieve is a real benefit of increasing the likelihood of laptop theft.

      - LAlarm themselves suggest that you use multiple security approaches for protecting your laptop.

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