Use Prey & Never Lose Your Laptop Or Phone Again [Cross-Platform]

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Prey Tracker Program Intro   Use Prey & Never Lose Your Laptop Or Phone Again [Cross Platform]Here’s the thing about mobile and portable devices: since they aren’t tethered to anything, it’s almost too easy to lose them or, worse, have them stolen from right under your nose. I mean, if you really think about it, all somebody needs to do is run past you and grab your phone while you’re using it and they have a good chance of getting away with it.

About a year ago I wrote a review for Bitdefender Anti-Theft, a program designed to keep your devices safe and sound by offering you a method of tracking them in case they ever got lost or stolen, but it costs money and uses a subscription-based model. Thanks to a suggestion by one of the readers, I’ve discovered a free and cross-platform alternative called Prey.

With Prey, you’ll never have to worry about absentmindedness or theft ever again, at least when it comes to your mobile devices. Keep reading to find out why this program is so useful.

Prey is great for three main reasons – it’s easy to set up, it’s easy to use, and you won’t ever have to pay a cent to use it. There’s no trial period or crippled feature set here – the free version is enough to keep your devices adequately protected. Of course, there’s a premium version but its features are mostly for power users and those who want convenience. We’ll talk more about that later.

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The installer for Prey is about as easy as they come. I had it up and running on my Windows box in less than a minute and it was ready to go on my Android phone just as quickly. I don’t have any other devices to test it on, but I can only assume that those alternatives are just as simple and fast.

prey tracker 1   Use Prey & Never Lose Your Laptop Or Phone Again [Cross Platform]

In order to use Prey, you’ll need to create a free account on their website. Why, you ask? Because the individual installations on each device (PC, Mac, Android, etc.) only provide the capabilities for tracking those particular devices. The actual control panel, or dashboard, is entirely web-based for your convenience. In other words, no matter which device you lose, you’ll always be able to track them down as long as you have Internet access.

The dashboard itself is rather simple yet elegant. It lists all of the devices that are hooked up to your account and have Prey-tracking enabled. The listed information is just enough to give you an informative overview without being overly cluttered or convoluted. If you want more details, you can click on each device’s name.

Prey is available on the following platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. For the desktop OSes, all you need to do is download the installer files (or packages) from the website and run them like any other installer. For the mobile apps, you can find them in the Apple Store or Google Play.

prey tracker 2   Use Prey & Never Lose Your Laptop Or Phone Again [Cross Platform]

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what exactly Prey can do. The screenshot above shows you the Prey profile for my Windows desktop computer. Fat chance that someone will manage to steal my home computer, right? But let’s imagine for a moment that this is a laptop installation (which is far more practical example).

Prey allows each device to be set as either OK or Missing. When it’s OK, the device will assume everything is all right and won’t send much data back and forth. However, when you set it to Missing, that’s when all the magic happens.

When a device is set to Missing, it will begin sending Reports to the central Prey servers. How often does the device send a report? You can set it in the dashboard. You can also set the activation and deactivation phrases. If you have Prey set up on a phone, send these phrases by SMS to your device in order to wake up or shut down Prey.

prey tracker 3   Use Prey & Never Lose Your Laptop Or Phone Again [Cross Platform]

Each Prey report can contain as much or as little data as you choose and these options can be toggled in the dashboard.

For example –

  • Geo will include geological data based on GPS in the report.
  • Network will include information such as the device’s current IP address and nearby WiFi networks.
  • Webcam will attempt to take a picture from the phone’s camera. If you have Prey installed on a laptop, you can also choose to include Session data (e.g., a screenshot to show what the thief is doing with the computer).

Prey can also perform a few actions on the lost/stolen device –

  • Alarm blasts a sound for 30-seconds to help you locate it.
  • Alert will notify the thief that you are tracking the device.
  • Lock the device with a password to prevent usage.
  • Secure deletes sensitive data on the device so no one can ever access it.

Free accounts are limited to 3 total devices and 10 stored reports. Prey offers a number of paid subscription plans that unlock a host of premium features depending on the plan – add more devices, increase the amount of stored reports, and unlock On-Demand Mode which lets you request reports and perform actions whenever you want.

All in all, I’m impressed by the power and flexibility offered by Prey even in its free version. If you’ve been looking for a security tracker for your lost devices but couldn’t afford to shell out money for a Bitdefender Anti-Theft subscription, then I highly recommend that you give Prey a try. As far as I know, it’s the best free alternative out there.

Then again, if Prey does too much and you want a simpler device-only app, you could check out these Android or iPhone apps.

Let us know if you have had a positive or negative experience with Prey.

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17 Comments - Write a Comment

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Jill Jacoby

This is great, thanks for sharing!

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Victor Hurtado

I just installed this application. Great one, Thank you :-)

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Humpster Sameasabove

this is a must have,always wondering when I leave will my laptop still be there? now I don’t have to hide it when I leave home anymore.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Keep hiding it. This is not foolproof, and it’s better if your device is never stolen at all. Using Prey doesn’t mean you can bypass every countermeasure.

Joel Lee

Good advice, Lisa. I agree with it 100%. :)

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Scott M

Why did it take so long for someone to produce so very useful.This is perfect.I am astounded by some of the crap programs and apps that are produced daily and an idea such as this is so long in coming.This is going on a few devices immediately and I will be passing it along to many friends and colleagues.Thanks.

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M. Emily Wells-Suznavick

Thank you loaded it on my phone and laptop

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macwitty

Can we get this for keys, children and partner also? ;)
Great service, thanks!

Joel Lee

Haha. The same for keys would be awesome! Maybe socks, too. :P

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mieszko200

Great idea! Thanks!

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Jim

Question: suppose the one who steals your laptop is someone familiar with bitdefender and find my iPhone etc. , isn’t it logical to assume that the first thing he will do is to format your laptop/restore to factory settings the phone? I mean, these counter theft solutions are useful if and only if the theft is a tech dummy….

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Well, it’s still better than having no protection, I think. Common thieves would go directly to pawn shop.

Joel Lee

Agreed. Preventative/protective programs are just another defensive layer, but anyone with enough know-how can strips away defenses regardless of what they are. It’s better to have Prey than not have it at all, though!

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Lisa Santika Onggrid

I was tempted to try turning on ‘device stolen’ just to see how well it performs. Can we delete stored reports?

Joel Lee

I don’t remember off the top of my head but I believe you can!

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Nicolas

My phone was stolen once and I had one of these software installed (Where’s my Droid). I tried to communicate with it and it never worked. I then realized how easy it is to stole a phone it even with this kind of soft installed.

1 – Shut down the phone by holding the power button long enough.
2 – Remove the sim card
3 – Power on the phone by holding the volume-up button to see boot options.
4 – reset the phone to factory setting.

I swear I have never stolen a phone but I am sure that is how they do it. Will Prey resist to this method?

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alikhan2100

Installing as i write, thanks for informing us :)

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