February 18, 2009, 10:31 PM — Absolute.com seems to be the leader in the laptop recovery biz, at least according to their figures. Their products are CompuTrace for companies, and LoJack for Laptops for consumers. Since they have verified over 200 laptops returned in one week, and well over 5,000 total returns, by all the math I can do with their competitors they are ahead.
But ahead doesn't mean stopping, and they're adding new ways for your laptop to “phone home” when it gets lost or stolen. Now you laptops can use WiFi to link back to Absolute HQ and report where it is.
That's how the service works, of course. At a variety of intervals, the laptop tells the Absolute.com servers “I'm here.” When you report your laptop lost or stolen, Absolute then watches for your laptop to phone home the next time, and then sets about getting it back.
Other services like FailSafe from Phoenix Technologies and Orbicule Undercover (for Macs) also use WiFi and other network connections to phone home. Where Absolute takes a step further is how tightly they work with the police to get your laptops returned. In fact, they'll send your local police search warrant verbiage to quickly convince a judge to allow the police to go search for, and retrieve, your laptop.
Absolute.com has added some new services, such as being able to delete your hard drive contents remotely. That's nice if your laptop is lost, but I still strongly recommend full disk encryption for businesses that store customer and employee data on their laptops. If your laptop is one of the 1600 or more laptops stolen each day in the US, having full disk encryption on your laptop means never having to say your sorry to your customers, your employees, and the various government regulators who take a strong interest in lost data wandering about.
If your laptop wanders, Absolute.com has a new trick or two to help get it back. But remember your full disk encryption, and you'll sleep better, I promise.