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I have been asked to search for a system to get info from our stolen PCs* and gives us info to recover them.

I have searched the web and there are plenty of systems, but most of them rely in a program running in the OS. The trouble is that our systems have a corporate login/static IP and a bunch of particularities, so I must assume that stolen PCs will be formatted before being put to use.

So far the only system that I have found that looks like what I need is Computrace from Absolute Software. Intel Anti-Theft technology is not useful because most of the PCs to protect are desktops.

So the questions are:

  • Can someone point me to similar products that can track a PC after being formatted. I am a little surprised that I only could find Computrace.
  • Has anybody had any experience with Computrace? Was the PC formatted?

*1 I do not mean that we stole them; they will be stolen from us sometime in the future. :-)

share|improve this question
+1 for the disclaimer – Mehrdad Nov 19 '11 at 22:26
This is a shopping recommendation request (IMO), voted to close. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 23 '11 at 20:02
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Any anti-theft system that can survive disk formatting must use specialized hardware.

Some solutions are :

  • Computrace technology : not limited to laptops, see for example Dell BIOS-enabled models
  • BIOS passwords (for computers using flash EEPROM for BIOS it's almost impossible to erase)
  • Fingerprint sensor or smart card authentication (although these are more software-oriented)
share|improve this answer
Yes I checked and most of our desktops (and all of the newer ones) are enabled. I'll look at the BIOS thing, it might be useful as a deterrent (I only knew of old, easily resetable BIOS). – SJuan76 Nov 24 '11 at 11:12
Since this is the best answer so far and a bounty is a terrible thing to waste, there it goes. – SJuan76 Nov 25 '11 at 20:57
Ugghhhh. Computrace is a malware itself. But there is public information available how to remove it. (it's UPX packed in bios, you can remove it easily. heck, there is an exploit too that allows you to turn off the previously enabled computrace option.) – Shiki Aug 29 '13 at 22:18

I have seen this highly recommended on various forums

If you have backups of the data why does it matter if they survive formatting?, once stolen they are usually not recovered unless they are laptops with bios level theft protection.

share|improve this answer
I already had found it, but does not comply with my goals of surviving a format. The objective is not only protecting from data theft but also catching (and from that, deterring) thieves who right now are working with impunity. Also, prey would not defend us if someone wanted to steal data by just using a liveCD. – SJuan76 Nov 17 '11 at 8:32
Would logic not dictate that they are operating with impunity because no such solution exists (or at least is in any real usage) ? – Sirex Nov 25 '11 at 11:38
and by solution i mean software. As per harrymc's answer, you're looking at hardware here. – Sirex Nov 25 '11 at 11:45

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