To test the product, I marked a Windows-based laptop as missing and received a report after about five minutes. Information included an accurate Google map and a Webcam shot. After marking the device as missing, there didn’t appear to be any changes to the laptop or its programs, which could be good for keeping potential thieves in the dark. (After Prey is installed, it only shows up in a device’s programs menu, which could help keep all but the most suspicious or keen-eyed thief unaware.)
If a device is thought to be stolen, users should contact law enforcement. They can offer police the data they collect through Prey as evidence. Users should also provide additional information, such as circumstances surrounding the loss as well as the device’s serial number, which Prey also provides in its Web site control panel.
The standard version of Prey is free; the Pro version costs less than a dollar per account. At that price, the program’s ease of use, wealth of location data, and other security features could make it a valuable tool when portable devices are stolen or simply lost.
Pros. Numerous location and security features including Google Map and a possible Webcam photo. The software is easy and quick to install; the control site is simple to navigate. Passwords can be remotely deleted.
Cons. Unlike a few similar programs, Prey does not offer to help users work with law enforcement to retrieve stolen devices. It cannot help users wipe clean their hard drives remotely.
Where to get it. Prey can be downloaded at preyproject.com.