Prey and Time Machine backups


Under no circumstance delete the computer from your Prey account. Seriously.

If you do that you won't be able to track the former laptop, specially if it was lost or stolen. Please be patient, follow the guide below, and you'll start getting reports from your stolen laptop.

Now that we got this clear...


What's Time Machine, what goes wrong and why does this happen

Time Machine's an app for OS X that constantly backups all the changes on your operating system. It can be used to restore a computer to a previous state, or to restore its full setup into another, which means that it could successfully transfer all your data from a stolen device into a new one. While this is extremely useful for almost all your running applications, it will clone your device on your Prey account due to our software's setup process.

Prey saves your device's unique information on the prey.conf file located either on C:\Windows\Prey (Windows) or /etc/prey (OS X and Ubuntu). This file includes your account's unique API Key on line 36, and your device's unique Device Key on line 39. It looks like this:

Your account's API key.
api_key = 1a2b3c4d5e6f

# Your device's unique key.
device_key = 1a2b3c

All devices under your account should have the same api_key value, which you can find at the bottom-left corner on your Prey account's settings. None of them should have the same device_key, though, or the Prey servers will have no way to tell a device from another, and this is exactly what happens after a Time Machine restore. But don't worry. Nothing is lost.


How to split cloned devices

Now that we know what's wrong (the same device_key on both computers) we can easily fix this. To do that, please.

  1. Completely uninstall Prey from the restored computer using the methods below.
  2. Once the process is done, just reinstall Prey on your computer. It will show up on your Prey account.

Uninstall Prey from OS X

Open the terminal and run the following command:

sudo /usr/local/lib/prey/current/bin/prey config hooks pre_uninstall && sudo rm -rf /usr/local/lib/prey /var/log/prey.log /etc/prey
Prey 1.4.1 and older

If your computer runs a version of Prey prior to 1.4.2, the above command won't work. In that case, run this command instead.

sudo /usr/prey/current/bin/prey config hooks pre_uninstall && sudo rm -rf /usr/lib/prey /var/log/prey.log /etc/prey


Run the Uninstall.exe file located in C:\Windows\Prey to uninstall Prey, and then make sure to delete the prey.conf file located in that same directory.


Make sure that your new laptop is protected

Once the previous process is complete, please go to your Prey account to check for the new device on your account. Provided that you had available device slots, it should be there by now. To verify its device_key you can see the URL to the device on your Prey account, and compare it to the one on line 39 of the prey.conf file.

For example, line 39 of the prey.conf file for the device should read like this:

device_key = 1a2b3c

Once the device_key for your newly added computer is the same as its URL on your Prey account, we're all set.


Make sure that Prey Is running on both computers

We're all set with the new laptop, though we still don't know if everything is right on the former one. It's not an easy task to confirm that a stolen computer is reporting properly until it does, because as you might already know, Prey requires the devices to be connected to the internet to get you reports. The important thing here is that once both clones computers are split up, the old one will remain as the old entry on your Prey account, and all reports that arrive will be from that stolen or lost device. Please be patient until the information arrives. It will.

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