In spy movies, a few clicks can get you the location of your lost item. Well, it is partially true if your laptop is lost or stolen. Only if its location tracking was turned on. However, can a laptop be tracked after a factory reset? It is a common question that might pop into your head.
Unfortunately, you cannot track your laptop after a factory reset through Find My PC. However, if you’ve installed anti-theft software like Computrace then there is hope. It is embedded in BIOS firmware and can get you back to your laptop.
Windows 10 has limited ability to locate a device, and that too only if it is not factory restored. It also has other limitations like it cannot erase the data in the laptop, nor enable the front camera.
However, if Windows 10 is not re-installed yet there is hope. You can track your laptop using the Find My PC option. Also, if you are an Apple MacBook user, iCloud can show the last location it has been on while connected. You can’t do much after MacBook data is erased.
Track a Laptop After Factory Reset
Anti-theft software is the best way to recover a stolen or lost laptop. However, the question remains that can a laptop be tracked after a factory reset? Without altering the laptop the chances to find it is minimum.
So far, Computrace Lojack is your best bet to find your laptop again. It is a tracking software used by many for theft recovery. The good news is many laptops like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Toshiba have it embedded into the firmware of their models.
Computrace also allows you to erase files, remotely lock, and locate your laptop quickly. You only need to enable it in the BIOS and the laptop will send you a signal as soon as it is connected to the internet.
You can access your connected device’s location through the monitoring center of Computrace. Also, in case of a factory reset, it will redownload itself. You can also communicate with your device through SMS service.
Simple Steps to Activate Computrace
If your laptop has this software in-built in its firmware, then it is easy to enable it.
- Turn on your laptop. If your laptop is already on, restart it.
- Press the F2 key as the laptop logo appears on the screen.
- It will open BIOS, so scroll down and click on Security.
- Now, select Computrace(R) given in the security option.
- Once you have clicked on it, make sure to Activate it and let it be as such.
The anti-theft software is thus activated on your laptop. You can also check if your laptop has prior Computrace software or not.
Know If Your Laptop Has Computrace
It takes less than a minute to figure out if your laptop or PC has Computrace. It will pay you off as it can track a laptop after a factory reset when all else fails.
- Click on Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your laptop keyboard.
- It will open Windows Task Manager.
- Select the Services tab once the task manager is open.
- It will show a list of all the services running on your laptop.
- To make the search easier, click on Name to alphabetize the list.
- Scroll down the list carefully and look for rpcnet.exe.
- If you spot it, then find Computrace written in its description. It shows that your laptop already has this software.
How to Install Computrace on Laptop?
You are convinced that Computrace is the ultimate anti-theft software but can’t find it on your laptop. Well, you can install it as an alternative and enjoy the same perks. You will need to install it as an administrator.
- Signup on to the Absolute website and log in to the web portal.
- Click on Agent Management.
- Then select Download Full Agent Installer to download it.
- Install and verify your system and you are good to go.
Track a Laptop Before Factory Reset
If your laptop has the Find My PC option on, then you can track it down. But it doesn’t work if the laptop has a hard reset. You can still try in hopes that it is not factory restored, yet.
For Windows 10
- Sign in to your Microsoft Account specified for devices.
- Click on the Find My Device option
- Now, click on the device you want to find and select Find.
- It will give you the location of your selected device (administrator only).
- You can further lock the device by selecting Lock and Next after you pinpoint your device on a map.
- Moreover, you can choose to change the passwords on the device for added security until you reach your device.
- Open Find My app on any other Apple device.
- You can also access it after signing in to iCloud.
- Select your MacBook to view it on the map.
- If your laptop is nearby, you can set it to make a sound. So it is easy to detect.
- If your MacBook is stolen, you should report it to Apple using the device’s serial number.
Can a laptop be tracked by IP address or Mac address?
IP addresses and mac addresses can be tracked by special software that is not easily accessible. Also, it is only in case your laptop is reconnected to the internet.
Certain prior settings can ping you if the laptop is connected again. But it is difficult to know the physical location of a device. Also, a VPN can easily mask the internet IP of your laptop. So, a laptop cannot be tracked after a factory reset.
Without anti-theft software, there is no hope to recover a laptop after a factory reset. On the other hand, having Computrace can save you time and money in tracking the laptop. It is best to take precautions beforehand for any such incident.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I track my laptop with Google?
Yes, you can track your laptop with Google Maps, if it goes online. In case your laptop is lost or stolen, you can Sign-In into your Google Account and track it if you have retrieving methods already set up.
Can a laptop be tracked by a serial number?
No, a serial number is not enough to track your laptop among many. Mac addresses or serial numbers are hardware. So they do not help find the physical location of a laptop after a factory reset.