I have talked before about GadgetTrak, a service which helps you recover lost or stolen gadgets, by reporting to you IP, location, computer username, and other useful info.
While writing the previous article on GadgetTrak, I tested it out on a couple gadgets such as an old mp3 player, and a USB stick. However, after getting a brand-new iPod Nano last week, installing GadgetTrak was the second thing I did (first I bought a clear plastic case to protect from scratches). These are the five steps that I took almost immediately to help increase the chances of the thief “installing USB drivers”, as well as the chances of actually recovering the unit.
Update your agent files
GadgetTrak recently updated its agent files, so you should re-download and re-install all of the GadgetTrak files on your gadgets. Stay alert for any new updates. Remember, newer agent files mean better compatibility and features.
Buy a subscription
After setting up GadgetTrak on your device, and testing it out, buy a subscription. At only $1/month, the subscription is dirt cheap, and offers many more features than a free trial. Unless your gadget is worth less than $12, this is a no-brainer. The premium version allows you to see the location of your stolen or missing gadget on a google map, and you are sent GadgetTrak stickers, which further assist recovery of your gadget.
Note: GadgetTrak has recently removed the free subscription option, but this still applies, as I know some people may ride the trial version, and switch accounts every 30 days.
Read the Getting Started PDF file
If your are confident of your computer skills, you probably choose to skip most readme files when it comes to installing software or applications. Usually you can get by, but GadgetTrak is one of those exceptions, where you really should read the start document. The included Getting Started .pdf file will tell you most of what you need to set-up and use GadgetTrak on your gadget.
Change the agent files to ‘Hidden’
You probably don’t want your thief to see or tamper with your agent files. Luckily you can easily hide these files by changing the status of the autorun.inf, id, and icon.ico files to ‘hidden’. You can do this by right-clicking on the files, going to properties, and selecting ‘Hidden’, then hitting apply. Do not hide the passwords.exe file though. You actually WANT the thief to click on this, as it executes GadgetTrak, and sends info to the server.
Change the icon & text
This is probably the most important thing you can do, and I can not emphasize it enough. You must change the default icon and text in the agent files. Nothing gives it away more to a thief than an iPod that is labelled ‘My Device’ that has a big green arrow for an icon. Not only will changing these defaults help your agent files go unnoticed, but you can also increase the likelihood of them “installing usb drivers” by changing the prompt text. Below is the contents of the autorun.inf file. I will show you what each part means, and how to customize it to your liking.
action=Install USB driver
shell\open=Install USB driver
icon.ico is the filename of the icon that will be displayed in explorer, and the driver prompt. I suggest you look around for an icon appropriate to your gadget. The best place to get icons is Icon Archive. Here, I found these icons, which I used for my iPod.
Passwords.exe is the name of the file which sends the info to the server. You probably shouldn’t change this. If you do desire to modify the filename though, then change the actual filename, and then swap the new filename into the auto run file.
“Install USB Driver” is the option that will appear in the auto-run prompt, when someone inserts your gadget into their computer. What you change this to will depend on the device that you are using GadgetTrak on. Personally, I changed this to “Install Apple iPod USB Drivers”.
“My Stuff” is the label of your device. This will appear anywhere that refers to the device, such as explorer, in the top of a window, and the taskbar. Unless you have a more creative idea, change this to the actual name that appeared before installing GadgetTrak. For example, ‘Apple iPod USB Device’
Lessons I have learned
1. Your GT id is located in the id file. If you are changing profiles for a gadget, but don’t want to re-install the agent files, you can simply change this. You can simply replace the file, or you can modify it by changing the name to id.txt.
2. The passwords.exe file is named as such to try to get the thief to click on it. Renaming it to gadgettrak.exe or something of the sorts is not a good idea. Also, do not hide this file, as you WANT the thief to click on it.
3. Make sure you don’t copy the Getting Started pdf onto your device. This will probably give it away to your thief.
4. GadgetTheft doesn’t garuntee retrieval of your device, and is not a substitute for caution and common sense. IP’s and usernames can only do so much, and the best protection is making sure it doesn’t get stolen in the first place. That said, being so cheap and easy to set up, you should install GadgetTrak on all of your expensive gadgets.