CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday

Today we’ve got an amazing freeware application for Windows that actually serves two different purposes. Give a hardy welcome to LocatePC. First and foremost it will keep you informed of your computer’s whereabouts by sending you an email either on a daily basis or anytime the IP address of the machine changes. In the email it will give you all kinds of details that can help you track the PC’s location, such as the ISP it’s connected to and IP address of the machine.

What’s the other purpose it serves? Most of you are probably not paying to get a static IP address from your ISP, right? That means your IP address might change periodically, and this program can notify you via an email each time the IP changes. This isn’t a stated purpose of the application, but that was one of the first things that popped into my mind after I looked at some of the configuration options.

locatepc 1.png

It wasn’t too difficult to download and install LocatePC, but one problem I did run into is that it wouldn’t install without running it as an administrator on Vista. After I ran it as an administrator I was able to fly through the rest of the setup, which is pretty much just entering a password to protect the application. The end result is the screenshot you see above.

Remember, LocatePC is supposed to be discrete so that it couldn’t easily be found by someone if your computer was stolen. For that reason you won’t see anything in the System Tray, and the process name is slightly obscure making it hard to pinpoint when doing a quick visual scan. Don’t worry though, you can access the console at any time by pressing Alt+Shift+Home.

Now you’re ready to configure all of the email settings. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but might require you to setup a new email address since it only supports POP accounts that don’t use SSL. I know, that’s not optimal but you can easily go setup an AOL account that you’ll use only for sending the emails. You can have the notifications sent to any address you would like.

Here are the different configurations screens you’ll encounter (click on any screenshot to enlarge it):

  1. Email Account
    This is where you’ll enter in the details of the email account to use for sending the notifications. If you have a Yahoo! Plus account you can go ahead and use that, otherwise I would recommend just grabbing an AOL email account. If you use AOL or Yahoo it will automatically fill in a lot of the details for you.
    locatepc 2.png
  2. Email Message
    This is where you want to enter in the address to send the notifications to, and also any other information you want included in the email. Maybe enter in the model and serial number of the PC so that you don’t have to try and dig it out once the PC is stolen.
    locatepc 3.png
  3. Email Schedule
    Choose how often you want to receive the emails. By default it will send one email out everyday in addition to one if the IP address changes. It’s probably easiest to just have it send an email if the IP changes, which is the only other option available.
    locatepc 4.png
  4. Advanced
    Here you can configure some of the advanced settings such as the site used to get the trace route, the hotkey used to show the console, and where it obtains the IP address from.
    locatepc 5.png

And now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor! Whenever your IP address changes you should receive an email similar to this:

Message sent: 5/15/08 11:43:06 (universal time: 5/15/08 19:43:06)
Computer's host name: John_Desktop
Logged in Windows account name: John

Found 2 network connection(s) on this computer (this list may be incomplete):
1 Name: MyISP Type: Dialup modem Phone number: (555) 555-4321 User name: JSmith
2 Name: BigCo Type: PPPoE Service name: MySvc User name: (empty)

Computer's web IP address reported by ip.locatepc.com: 216.239.142.3
To learn more about this IP address, use the IP tests at www.dnsstuff.com.

Computer's local IP address(es):
Adapter 1 101.151.8.92

Computer's MAC address(es):
Adapter 1 (ZX-11 Ethernet): 00-21-54-17-64-26

Trace route to www.locatepc.com:
Hop Name/IP Addr
1 Router [101.151.2.1]
2 101.151.8.92
3 cust-quik.pdx.or.uspops.net [216.239.161.82]
4 fe1-1-300.gw0.pdx.or.uspops.net [216.239.161.81]
5 206-169-234-45.gen.twtelecom.net [206.169.234.45]
6 core-02-ge-3-1-0-508.ptld.twtelecom.net [66.192.248.108]

Identifying information (owner name/address, computer model/serial number):
This computer is the property of:
John Smith
123 Elm Street
Anyville, NY 12345

Computer brand: ABC
Computer model: Megazoom 10000

LocatePC Homepage

There Are 12 Comments

  1. Does the application work before the computer is actually logged in or not until after you enter your login credentials? If someone stole your computer and couldn’t login they would probably format it and get rid of it before the application had a chance to grab the info.

  2. From their web site. Too many restrictions for me.

    * LocatePC can only send email if a user is logged in to the PC, and the PC is connected to the Internet.
    * LocatePC does not support HTTP proxy servers, mail servers that use SSL or SPA or IMAP (including Gmail and Hotmail), or email accounts that only work when the PC is connected to a specific ISP.

  3. What a POS. this will hardly work against a smart theif

  4. “What a POS. this will hardly work against a smart theif”

    That’s a pretty bold statement, from what Ive seen most theifs aren’t very smart to begin with, that’s why there theifs.

    Implemented right this tool can be very useful, beats paying a monthly fee or the potential of having a third party monitor your computer/s.

  5. Personal firewall will be able to block the SMTP outgoing messages. Will work for non techie thieves only. :D

  6. It will NOT work at all – any network that proxyes the traffic (where no direct SMTP connections are allowed) will stop it dead. Most ISPs do not allow to use foreign SMTP servers…

    So, this is a real POS.

  7. Brandon wrote:
    Does the application work before the computer is actually logged in or not until after you enter your login credentials? If someone stole your computer and couldn’t login they would probably format it and get rid of it before the application had a chance to grab the info.

    That’s one of the downsides… the user does have to be logged in for it to run. Hopefully in the future they would be able to make this run as a service.

    Anonymous wrote:
    What a POS. this will hardly work against a smart theif

    It’s free, and anything that could help return your computer is a big plus in my book.

    Anthony wrote:
    It will NOT work at all – any network that proxyes the traffic (where no direct SMTP connections are allowed) will stop it dead. Most ISPs do not allow to use foreign SMTP servers…

    I doubt some thief is going to take this to an elaborate corporate network or anything. They’ll likely take it hope and connect it to a simple router.

  8. Another great program that is similar and seemingly more powerful is LaptopLock. Currently a free service which not only tracks your laptop by IP, but you can set it up to automatically encrypt or wipe sensitive information you choose, should the thief connect to the internet on your PC. You can also have the program run another program, such as a batch script. The way this works is you would login to their website and report your laptop stolen; then when the LaptopLock service on your PC polls the website for the laptop’s status and finds it stolen, it will execute the commands you set it up to.

    [thelaptoplock.com]

    Ofcourse, as noted, this wouldn’t fool an intelligent thief — they would likely never run the host operating system live, rather ripping the data directly off the hard drive. However, it seems very lightweight on resources, better than nothing for an important laptop.

  9. someone stole my emial can i track him by using this program…
    help me please :|

  10. Reponse to Dee's Question

    No you Dum Dee Dum. This program is not a double standards.

Leave Your Comment


Message is the only required field.
Emails are not published.