Long back we had written about multiple ways to track and recover stolen laptops. Some of them still work and some of them don’t. But here is a real neat solution, if you are a Dropbox user.

Let me alert you that this article is not for those who have already lost their laptops. Rather this is for everyone else who can follow some simple procedure and avoid wasting hundreds of dollars on the insurance.

The idea is really simple. Download and run a shell script (which works on Mac, Linux & Windows) which will allow Dropbox users to receive information (like the IP address) back from a stolen laptop (or Macbook) right into their Dropbox account that could help reveal who the thief is. All credits to a group of users on this Dropbox forum thread who came up with the script and the idea.

So what you need to do?

Download this shell script for Mac/Linux or this bat script for Windows. This script writes output from useful commands like ipconfig, netstat etc to your Dropbox, and also queries (using the low bandwidth page they set up for automation projects like this) writing the public IP address the computer is connected as (assuming a NAT configuration then this will be the IP of the router connected to the internet).

You can run the batch script as a scheduled job on Windows (instructions). On mac you can schedule it using CronTab or CronniX. Make sure you go through the instructions given inside the scripts. It is better to schedule the script to run daily, If someone steals the notebook or Macbook, (and assuming they don’t wipe the HDD right away and get online) you must get some real useful information back into your Dropbox account.

What more? You can use MS PowerToy which lets you take the picture using a webcam at a set interval and save it to the DB folder. Smile Mr. Thief! You are on Camera!


Raju is the founder-editor of Technology Personalized. A proud geek and an Internet freak, who is also a social networking enthusiast. You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. Mail Raju PP. Follow rajupp


  • Amit

    cool, but the thief is most likely to delete everything from the hard drive before he connects to the internet. Still a useful hack !

    • Raju

      On the contrary, I believe that the thieves aren’t that sophisticated!

  • Andy Mabbett

    Doesn’t that require the laptop to be logged into the Dropbox account?

    • Raju

      Of-course! You are expected to have the laptop “linked” to the dropbox account. Any normal user would always have his/her devices linked to Dropbox account all the time.