Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Tracing/tracking a stolen computer

  1. Dec 23, 2013 #1
    What are the most efficient ways to trace/track down a stolen computer, if you don't have any spy/anti-theft programs installed? What can you do on your own individual/personal level to trace/track your computer apart from informing police and all that.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 24, 2013 #2
    Programs are no good. Any thief with even half a brain will know to wipe/remove the hard drive. Software solutions are not effective. You will need to have a lojack installed in the BIOS that cannot be easily removed from the system.
    These bios firmwares connect to the internet and install themselves in the hard drive (even if it's brand new) and communicate the location of the system, which can then be tracked. This can be defeated as well but it's not something trivial like removing the hard drive.
  4. Dec 24, 2013 #3
    Are you trying to protect a current PC or has it already been stolen?
  5. Dec 24, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If you don't have anything installed in the hardware or firmware (not, as Routaran pointed out, in the software) then in terms of ability to track it, your computer is no different than your favorite door-stop or a brick off the side of your house.
  6. Dec 24, 2013 #5
    It's been stolen.

    Can't I use mac ids to track it down?

    It's been stolen in India where thieves sell whatever they get hand on, for few bucks, they aren't any tech-savy(mostly). These thieves just try to get their hands on anything that's gonna pay for their night booze. Even the police here hasn't got any senses, let alone thieves.

    I'm sure the thief won't change hard-disk or any other thing, he's gonna sell it as it is. So I need to know the most efficient way to track my laptop.

    MAC ids are stored in firmware, can mac ids be modified/manipulated?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2013
  7. Dec 27, 2013 #6
    I'm afraid this may be a lost cause.

    MAC ID's are unique but they aren't tracked in a manner that is useful for locating computers. Only the initial DHCP server you connect to will know your mac address, everything else will only see an IP. You would need to let every local ISP know what the MAC address is and gain their cooperation in checking to see if any of their servers picked it up. (This assumes you already know what your system's MAC address is, if you don't then this is a dead end)

    If the DHCP happens to be a wireless router at home, then there's no way for the outside world to see it. Unfortunately, since you don't have something on the system that will "call home", I do not think there's a reasonable chance to locate the device. Sorry :(
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads for Tracing tracking stolen
MCNP VisEd Plot tracks :Error->File xsdir not available