Hardware

Review: Computrace LoJack for Laptops

Computrace LoJack for Laptops assists in the recovery of stolen Macintosh and PC computers and offers an optional Data Delete feature enabling remote erasure of a stolen system's entire hard disk.

More than 600,000 laptop computers are stolen annually. Your organization could be the next victim. Computrace LoJack for Laptops assists in the recovery of stolen Macintosh and PC computers and offers an optional Data Delete feature enabling remote erasure of a stolen system's entire hard disk.

Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Absolute Software Corp.
  • Product: Computrace LoJack for Laptops
  • Version: LoJack for Laptops Standard Edition
  • Requirements: (PC) Windows Vista or Windows XP (32-bit version only); (Macintosh) Mac OS X version 10.3 or higher, Macintosh with PowerPC G3/G4/G5 processor or Intel Core Duo CPU, Internet connection and Safari or Firefox Web browser
  • Operating systems: Microsoft Windows XP Home / Professional (32-bit version only) / Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic / Vista Home Premium / Vista Business / Vista Ultimate / Apple Macintosh OS X version 10.3 or higher
  • Subscription: One year
  • Download: LoJack for Laptops
  • Price: $39.99 Standard Edition ($59.99 for Premium Edition)
  • TechRepublic LoJack Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

Any business, organization or user owning most any contemporary Windows or Macintosh computer can deploy Computrace LoJack for Laptops software to protect data and improve stolen system recovery rates. Computers are stolen at an alarming rate. In fact, laptops disappear more quickly than once a minute at airports. Deploying LoJack for Laptops provides laptop owners with critical options for protecting sensitive data and recovering stolen computers.

What problem does it solve?

When laptop computers are stolen, most users have no recourse other than to report the theft to law enforcement. Recovering stolen computers proves very difficult for authorities. A study conducted by Ponemon Institute and Dell Computer revealed that, of 12,000 laptops lost in airports each week, only 30 percent are ever recovered.

When a computer with LoJack for Laptops is connected to the Internet, however, the software silently and securely contacts the Computrace monitoring center. By contacting Computrace when a computer is stolen, the company's theft recovery team (staffed by former police officers and security professionals) works with local police departments and ISPs to locate and recover stolen systems.

LoJack for Laptops Premium Edition includes the Data Delete option, in which sensitive, proprietary and other information can be erased and overwritten. Using the Data Delete feature, information (including personal data stored in cookies, documents and other files) typically used to perpetrate identity theft can be remotely deleted, as can be corporate information, customer lists and correspondence (including e-mail).

The Premium Edition also includes a $1,000 Service Guarantee. For an additional $20, Computrace LoJack for Laptops Premium Edition guarantees properly equipped systems are recovered or victims may be eligible to receive up to $1,000 (which could be used to offset the purchase of a replacement computer).

Standout features

  • Assisted recovery - Studies show only a minority of lost laptops are recovered. The recovery rate for LoJack for Laptops systems, however, is 75 percent. The company recovers an average of 50 computers each week. The above-average recovery rate is certainly assisted by Absolute Software's recruitment of former police officers and security professionals and the use of a licensed private investigation agency to coordinate recovery efforts.
  • Firmware-based on many models - Computrace BIOS support modules are included on many manufacturers' laptop computers, including many models from Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba. When the firmware-based module is activated, the recovery software survives OS reinstallation and even hard disk reformatting and replacement. A more complete list of BIOS-equipped models is available on the Absolute Web site.
  • Stealth operation - Once installed, users notice no difference in installed software, system performance or Internet or network bandwidth.
  • Volume discounts - Absolute Software provides discounted pricing when purchasing multiple-year subscriptions. Absolute Software also provides corporate pricing packages and technical assistance when deploying the Computrace agent in enterprise environments.

What's wrong?

  • Overseas use requires Computrace product - The LoJack for Laptops recovery team is most entrenched within North America. While the Computrace agent technology works in systems outside the United States (and is supported by a separate Absolute Software recovery team there), the LoJack for Laptops brand has not yet been released overseas, although the launch is imminent.
  • Internet connectivity required - LoJack for Laptops requires that a stolen laptop be connected to the Internet to leverage its recovery technologies, which include IP address tracking. Considering that it's estimated that 90 percent of stolen laptops go online within weeks of being stolen, though, means this may not be as big an issue as some (including those clamoring for a strictly hardware-based GPS solution) believe.

Competitive Products

Bottom line for business

Hundreds of thousands of laptops are stolen each year. Organizations spend millions of dollars replacing systems and managing fallout from leaked private data and proprietary information. Using Computrace's simple agent and proven recovery team helps ensure any organization or user losing a laptop can remotely delete sensitive information (when opting for the Premium Edition) and exponentially improve North American recovery rates.

User rating

Have you encountered Computrace LoJack for Laptops? What do you think? Rate the product and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review of LoJack for Laptops in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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