Here we continue our comparison of laptop tracking and recovery software:

Prey

Manufacturer: Fork

Price: Free/3 devices

Rating: 4/5

Prey is free for three devices and they can be Windows or Apple laptops, Android or iOS phones and tablets. There are Pro plans for companies with up to 500 devices too. Prey doesn’t hide itself, but the Start menu entries can be deleted after installation and the folder hidden. A password is required to uninstall it.

You can log in to the website, see a list of devices and access the control panel. There is a simple toggle switch to set a device as missing. This triggers reports, which are collected at regular intervals that can be as short as 10 minutes. Prey attempts to determine the location, IP address, nearest Wi-Fi hotspots, GPS and any other information available.

You can take screen shots in the hope of capturing a Facebook or Twitter page that identify the user, and a webcam photo. The computer can be locked and files can be erased.

Whereas Absolute Software (LoJack) handles the laptop recovery for you, it’s up to you to gather information using Prey and pass it on to the police. Despite being free, Prey is actually very good and you can easily test all the functions. This gives you confidence that should the worst happen, you might well be able to track your laptop and recover it.

Prey laptop tracking
The Prey control panel is excellent and has everything you need to locate your laptop

Norton Anti-Theft

Manufacturer: Symantec

Price: £30 per year/3 devices

Rating: 3/5

Norton Anti-Theft costs £30 per year for three devices and there are options for up to 10. These can be Windows and Apple laptops, and Android phones and tablets. It installs a desktop icon and Start menu entries, but you could delete or hide them and the uninstaller won’t run without a Norton Anti-Theft username and password.

Signing into your account via a web browser means you can see the location of the laptop on Google Maps. Updates are every hour, but if the laptop is stolen then clicking the Lock Device button increases the frequency.

Locking a laptop displays a custom message on the screen, such as a request to return it, and prevents it from being used until a PIN number is entered. Another feature is the ability to take photos using the webcam. You might get a nice picture of the thief to show the police.

Norton Anti-Theft seems lacking in features compared to Prey, but it works well enough and once the laptop is locked, it can’t be used. You can’t erase files as you can with Prey and it is up to you to work with the police to retrieve your lost or stolen laptop.

Norton Anti-Theft
Norton Anti-Theft is doesn’t have many as many features as its competitors.

miTracker

Manufacturer: miTracker

Price: £12.95 per year/1 laptop

Rating: 3/5

miTracker is cheap if you only have one laptop and three years cover will cost you just user £26. It’s available only for Windows, but the software offers more than rivals and has file encryption as well. You can scramble the contents of personal files to prevent access and a file shredder will securely deletes files so they can’t be recovered.

If your laptop is lost you can log into the website and set the status to missing. It can be locked and you can enter a message encouraging the finder to return it to you. There are functions for deleting files and you can send commands to the laptop to delete images, documents, web browser files, zip archives, or any file type you like. These facilities are useful, but miTracker misses out on a trick that the others have: it cannot take webcam photos and get a picture of the person using your computer.

Fortunately, it does have a locate facility that finds where the laptop is being used and displays it on a Google map. You could then pass this information on to the police (we don’t recommend vigilantism). miTracker is OK and has encryption and secure file deletion, but there are better services.

MiTracker
miTracker has some useful file encryption and shredding facilities, and remote control

Next page: Conclusion