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JohnVan11
1 Nickel

Computrace Question...

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So I bought a used Inspiron laptop,when I checked the bios noticed the Computrace option was on "Disable" and the other options,Deactivate and Activate are greyed out.

Any chances of activate back again ?

 

Thanks

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: Computrace Question...

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I don't think they can do it.  And while I can see why they'd want to make the "enable" option permanent so that thieves can't just turn it off, it's less clear to me why the "disable" option is also permanent.  Maybe to satisfy people with privacy concerns about their laptop having the potential to phone home to Computrace?  Anyhow, unfortunately I don't know of an equivalent alternative.  Computrace is so effective specifically because it's integrated into the motherboard firmware through collaboration with the PC manufacturer.  The same company that makes Computrace also makes a retail version called LoJack for Laptops, but it might not work if that capability has been disabled in firmware either -- or if it does, it probably wouldn't be quite as effective because it's not leveraging the motherboard firmware integration.  That said, I guess it depends on what capability you're looking for.  If you want the theft recovery, then what I just said would apply.  But if you're more interested in the remote wipe option, I personally just make sure to encrypt my hard drives with a strong password or a long PIN.  If you're using a Pro version of Windows, you can use BitLocker for this purpose and set a PIN for extra security.  If not, VeraCrypt is a very popular free and open source application that does effecitvely the same thing.  Either way, if your data is encrypted with a strong password, then you don't really need to worry about remote wipe because the thieves won't access the data anyway.  If you use VeraCrypt or BitLocker with a standard password, I'd define "strong password" as 16 characters minimum.  If you use BitLocker with a TPM and you choose to add a PIN, that can actually be fairly short (the default is 6 characters) because the PIN is not an integral part of the key when a TPM is involved, and BitLocker slows down brute force attempts.

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: Computrace Question...

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It's been a while since I used Computrace on Dell systems, but I remember there were 3 options.  Unless you specifically ordered Computrace with the system, it came in a state where it was deactivated.  From there, the user had the option of either fully disabling it or enabling it -- and either one of those changes was permanent.  So if it's grayed out in one of those states, there's no way to change it to anything else, short of a full motherboard replacement.  I believe this is described in the "help" box of the BIOS Setup interface below the actual options, or at least it was on the systems I last checked.

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JohnVan11
1 Nickel

Re: Computrace Question...

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No everything is greyed out,can't change it,I thought If I buy a license Computrace would remotely reverse it ?Since I can't use CT,would you recommend another security program ?

 

Thanks

 

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: Computrace Question...

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I don't think they can do it.  And while I can see why they'd want to make the "enable" option permanent so that thieves can't just turn it off, it's less clear to me why the "disable" option is also permanent.  Maybe to satisfy people with privacy concerns about their laptop having the potential to phone home to Computrace?  Anyhow, unfortunately I don't know of an equivalent alternative.  Computrace is so effective specifically because it's integrated into the motherboard firmware through collaboration with the PC manufacturer.  The same company that makes Computrace also makes a retail version called LoJack for Laptops, but it might not work if that capability has been disabled in firmware either -- or if it does, it probably wouldn't be quite as effective because it's not leveraging the motherboard firmware integration.  That said, I guess it depends on what capability you're looking for.  If you want the theft recovery, then what I just said would apply.  But if you're more interested in the remote wipe option, I personally just make sure to encrypt my hard drives with a strong password or a long PIN.  If you're using a Pro version of Windows, you can use BitLocker for this purpose and set a PIN for extra security.  If not, VeraCrypt is a very popular free and open source application that does effecitvely the same thing.  Either way, if your data is encrypted with a strong password, then you don't really need to worry about remote wipe because the thieves won't access the data anyway.  If you use VeraCrypt or BitLocker with a standard password, I'd define "strong password" as 16 characters minimum.  If you use BitLocker with a TPM and you choose to add a PIN, that can actually be fairly short (the default is 6 characters) because the PIN is not an integral part of the key when a TPM is involved, and BitLocker slows down brute force attempts.

meyser
1 Copper

Re: Computrace Question...

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Yes!? I think: replace the BIOS Chips and setup a new OS. Your comment?

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: Computrace Question...

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@meyser wrote:

Yes!? I think: replace the BIOS Chips and setup a new OS. Your comment?


I don't know of a way to replace just the BIOS chips.  You'd probably have to replace the entire motherboard, but unless you obtained a replacement motherboard directly from Dell, your replacement motherboard would already have some other Service Tag programmed into it.  I guess that might not matter if you're not worried about warranty coverage, but I just wanted to mention.

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