Prey won't locate a device or its location is wrong

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Desktops, Laptops, and computers in general

Prey for Windows, Mac, and Linux uses  Wi-Fi positioning to keep track of your devices. Based on your nearby Wi-Fi networks and their signal strength, Prey will triangulate where your computer most probably is based on an existing database. We say most probably because laptops and desktops don't have GPS, so there's no way that they physically tell where they are, so we need to get smart and use something like Wi-Fi positioning.

The good news about this system is that it's fantastic, and most of the time you'll get locations as accurate as if you were using actual GPS. However, since this depends on how many networks are available for Prey to triangulate, cities are always better than rural areas. So, in a nutshell, the more Wi-Fi networks your computer can detect, the more accurate your location will be.

What if the computer doesn't have Wi-Fi?

Here comes the bad news. Without GPS or Wi-Fi, it's impossible for us or anyone else to accurately locate your computer. It just can't be done. At most we can use your IP address to get a rough estimate of the area where the device is, which is usually a city or neighborhood, and can't be used to recover a computer. In that case, please report to the police the rest of the information collected by Prey.

In some cases a court can issue an order for the Internet Service Provider (ISP) controlling the IP address to provide information about it. It's not common but it can happen. For that you can only rely on the police.

On the other side, some users have reported installing Wi.-Fi adapters on their computers so they are able to send proper location data. Remember, your computer only needs to detect Wi-Fi access points, not to be actually connected to one.

Location is still wrong when using Wi-Fi

On Windows 8 and Windows 10, native Location Services were implemented. These are usually not as accurate as Google's and may affect how Prey shows your laptop's location. If you're having problems even after checking your laptop's Wi-Fi capabilities and you are using one of the mentioned operating systems, please try turning off Window's Location to ensure Google ones work well. You can do this on the Privacy section on your system's Control Panel.

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On Mobile Devices

Smartphones and tablets are the best of the best when tracking devices with Prey. Most of the time they rely on both GPS and Wi-Fi positioning, and with both of them you will get the exact location where your device is. For this you only have to enable apps from accessing your location, usually the GPS option on your phone or tablet. This is not optional if you wish to know where your device is.

What if I disable the GPS?

Then Prey won't be able to locate your device. Actually, no app will. Privacy comes first on mobile devices, so a denial in these settings will effectively ban Prey from getting your location. We can do a lot of things, but we can't remotely enable GPS capabilities on your phone.

If you wish the most accurate tracker, enable location for Prey on your iOS device, and enable High accuracy mode for location on your Android device.

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Wrong Locations and Troubleshooting

On laptops, go to Google Maps and use the tiny Locate button on the bottom-right section of the screen.

(You might need to enable location permissions for your browser).

If you get the same location on Google Maps as on Prey, that means that your area is still being mapped on the database and will get more accurate in the future. If it's different, then there's definitely a problem.

On mobiles, just make sure that the location permissions are enabled, and set to High accuracy on Android. Otherwise Prey won't be able to track you.