Find a stolen laptop with free LockItTight service

It won't actually prevent theft, but it might help you recover your missing machine.

LockItTight

A few months back I splurged on an Asus UX305F Ultrabook, a slim, lightweight system with a fast processor, lots of solid-state storage and great battery life. It's my daily driver.

That's why I'm fearful of losing it. Laptop thieves are everywhere. If they're not breaking into your car or home, they're snatching and grabbing from offices, coffee shops, airport security lines and so on.

Arguably the only thing worse than laptop theft is knowing there's no way to get it back. After all, it's not like it can "phone home" to report its location.

Actually, with the right software installed, it can. LoJack for Laptops, for example, can track a stolen system, but this enviable capability comes at a price: $40 per year for a Standard subscription or $60 for Premium.

Thankfully, there's a cheaper alternative: LockItTight, a laptop-recovery utility and service you can get for as little as zero dollars. It's a surprisingly capable solution, and although it won't actually deter a thief, it's one of those tools that's definitely worth having.

Like similar recovery solutions, LockItTight runs a small background client that stays more or less dormant until activated remotely. In other words, if you sign into your account from another PC, you can see your lost or stolen laptop's location on a map. You can also capture a screenshot, webcam photo (busted, thief!), keystroke log, browser history and so on. You can even remotely retrieve and/or delete files.

Needless to say, all this is predicated on your laptop being connected to the Internet. If a thief merely fences the system without turning it on and hitting up a Wi-Fi hot spot, LockItTight won't do you any good. Similarly, if you password-protect your laptop, which you probably should, there's little chance it can connect to Wi-Fi to report its location. But, as I said earlier, it's worth having because without it, your chances of recovery are much closer to zero.

LockItTight offers four different pricing plans. The free one allows you to track up to five devices (laptops and Android phones), but doesn't hide its System Tray icon -- something a tech-savvy thief might know to look for, and then work accordingly to disable. It also lacks on-demand reports, instead forcing you to wait two hours between them.

By stepping up to the Standard plan, which costs just $1.99 per month per device, you get 50 saved reports, on-demand reporting and a 30-minute interval. The service also offers Premium and Ultimate plans priced a few dollars higher.

I'm not saying LockItTight will guarantee recovery of your stolen laptop. I'm saying it's worth having because it works as advertised, and because it costs nothing. Your thoughts?

Editor's note January 4, 2016: Updated with the latest information.

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