Picture this: your laptop is gone. Stolen. Someone broke into your home or office and made off with it. That's not only a pricey piece of hardware down the drain, but also some potentially irreplaceable data.
This happens all the time. My poor mother-in-law had two laptops stolen from her home just a few months ago. They're easy--and popular--targets for thieves. (Laptops, not mothers-in-law.)
If only your abducted PC could call the cops and rat out the crook. That's exactly the idea behind LoJack for Laptops, which, like its automotive-based forebears, helps track and recover stolen systems.
Today only, you can get a one-year LoJack for Laptops Premium subscription for $30 via Groupon. (Don't worry that the deal is listed only in a handful of cities; you can buy it from anywhere.) That's less than the price of a Standard subscription, and half off the regular price.
By the way, you can also choose a three-year Premium subscription for $55, which is far and away the better deal. It works out to just over $18 per year.
So LoJack works like this: after the initial setup process, the software (available for Windows and Mac) runs quietly and invisibly in the background. When you report your laptop stolen, you have the options of locating, locking, and/or deleting it (i.e. wiping the hard drive remotely).
Absolute Software also employs a theft-recovery team that works directly with local law enforcement--an option not offered by competing anti-theft services.
The Premium version includes both Wi-Fi-powered geolocation (helpful if your laptop is merely lost, not stolen) and a $1,000 Service Guarantee.
Of course, LoJack and services like it depend on some kind of Internet connection. Without one, recovery is all but impossible.
That said, this is some great peace of mind at a much more affordable price than usual. (If you're not already signed up with Groupon, feel free to use my referral link! :)
That said, there are some free laptop-tracking services worth considering, most notably LockItTight and Prey. Happy to field opinions on these and others--in the comments, of course.
Bonus deal: Newegg has Norton Internet Security 2011 3-user edition for $40 shipped. A $40 mail-in rebate (in the form of a prepaid debit card) brings your total cost to $0. Freeware security tools are all well and good, but if you prefer the safety (and support) that comes from a commercial product like this, you can't beat $0.