Device Tracking

How to track windows devices anywhere and anytime

Learn how to track all your company’s Windows devices and simplify device management to improve security.

February 24, 2023

The FBI reports that laptops are stolen every single day. If you’re a personal laptop owner dealing with a stolen device, you may be facing lost data, sentimental pictures, and other files. However, suppose you're a corporate IT or physical security officer in charge of hundreds or even thousands of devices that hold millions of dollars worth of organizational data. In that case, a stolen device can cost you a lot more. 

According to Microsoft, 100 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 1 in 7 people worldwide use Windows 10 devices. That means that even a large organization with an impressively low turnover rate is still handing out hundreds or thousands of these devices to new employees every year. So for Windows laptops, it's key to use specific tracking and security solutions on this tech. For example, the right security software package specialized for Windows can help you track a stolen or lost item quickly and have a greater chance of securing it in your possession.

There are three main reasons (and several ancillary ones) to track Windows equipment that your company issues to employees efficiently. 

  • First, it’s the company's property and technology costs money.  
  • Second, there will be some confidential corporate data, even on a cell phone and laptop.  
  • Lastly, a device could be an entry point into your corporate network, databases, applications, etc. 

Let’s dive into the benefits of a windows tracking solution for your company, how these trackers locate devices, and which tracker may be best for you.

Features in a  windows device tracking solutions

Windows device tracking solutions are a powerful tool for businesses and organizations to keep track of their laptops and other mobile devices. These solutions allow administrators to monitor the location and usage of their devices in real-time, as well as remotely wipe data from a device if it is lost or stolen. 

This can be a critical component of an organization's overall security strategy, as it can help prevent data breaches and protect against the loss of sensitive information.

Real-time tracking and remote wipe capabilities

One of the most important features of Windows device tracking solutions is real-time tracking. This allows administrators to constantly monitor the location and usage of their devices, and receive alerts if a device is lost or stolen. 

It’s important to highlight that this feature doesn't appear as prominently as the "Find My" feature on Apple devices. Windows' location solution is called Find My Device and is hidden in the Settings app, making it less accessible to the average user compared to Mac's highly visible Find My app.

One of the reasons location solutions are lesser known in Windows is that they are not standard features on all Windows devices. Instead, it is only available on certain versions of Windows. B. Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, Education. This means many users may not even know that their device can be tracked if it is lost or stolen. The "Find My" app, on the other hand, is automatically installed on all Apple devices and prominently displayed on the Start screen. This makes it easier for users to find their device if it is lost or stolen. Additionally, the Find My app allows users to track the location of their device, play a sound to locate it, and remotely lock or erase the device if desired.

Additionally, many solutions also provide remote wipe capabilities, which allow administrators to erase all data from a device, even if it is no longer in their possession. This can be a critical feature in the event of a data breach, as it can help prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.

Geofencing and location-based tracking

Another important feature of Windows device tracking solutions is geofencing and location-based tracking. Geofencing allows administrators to set up virtual boundaries around specific locations, and receive alerts if a device enters or exits these boundaries. This can be useful for organizations that want to keep track of their devices when they are in specific locations, such as a warehouse or a retail store. Location-based tracking, on the other hand, allows administrators to track the location of a device in real time, regardless of whether it is within a geofenced area or not. In this section, we will discuss the geofencing and location-based tracking capabilities of different Windows device tracking solutions, and how they can be used to improve device security.

Benefits of having a windows device tracking solution for your company

Using a single-platform software solution to help ensure the physical and digital security of a company’s Windows devices is going to increase any organization’s peace of mind. An added mobile device management (MDM) suite can offer a lot of options and even more confidence in knowing that all of your company property and data is safe and secure. Below are some of the benefits of using Windows tracking software. Those that also include robust MDM services feature even more advantages.

Add an extra layer of compliance

With a Windows tracking system, when a laptop or device is stolen or lost, you can enforce your cybersecurity requirements systematically and remotely. You can also eliminate user actions, lock down the device or even wipe remotely all the data. This includes any applicable government compliance due to contracts, etc.

Prevent theft and information loss 

Device tracking solutions can alert you when devices aren’t in known or approved areas, which can prevent theft before it happens. Configurable tracking and geofencing support are available in sophisticated Windows tracking programs. You can use historical location data among other features to know when a device is or has been, especially helpful when your device fleet appears to grow some legs. 

Monitor the location of your remote staff

Similarly, if a device isn’t in a place where it belongs it may be a signal that some suspicious behavior. These location alerts can aid  IT, managers, to track and ensure that corporate device or data has not been compromised, and identify odd mobility patterns for remote employees who may need support due to an emergency. 

Improve data security

Serious data breaches can easily cost a company millions of dollars. Poor data security can cost money in lost business down the road, too. That’s why spending on better data security now with robust tracking programs with remote wipe capabilities is a no-brainer.

Manage hundreds or thousands of devices in a simpler and safer way

MDMs create a one-stop shop that lets you know where your devices are at any time. In addition, all IT security personnel have access to the same dashboard and information with MDM features, which helps prevent any confusion or missed information about the status of a possible breach. 

More data and evidence for quicker reactions from law enforcement

It’s hard to verify when a laptop has actually been stolen, especially for law enforcement. With trackers, you gain comprehensive control over mobile assets, their specific location GPS points, and the ability to disable a laptop remotely to ensure data security. After you’ve secured the device, you can share location information from anywhere in the world to help local law enforcement involvement.

Support company growth

It’s easy to ramp up from 100 to 1,000 employees with an easy-to-use Windows tracking system because you won’t have to worry about adding more devices to a complicated security process. You can also onboard new employees more easily with security protocols already in place.

Optimize mobile device spending

Businesses can cut costs by limiting the number of devices they have to purchase. One way to limit this is to make sure all issued devices are kept in company possession and returned when an employee quits. Locating unused items, even right in the office, and maximizing those already in play increases your device footprint. 

Many companies also employ a “Bring Your Own Device” policy, which can be a win-win for employees and employers. By allowing employees to bring their own devices and adding needed software and security to their personal laptops, a fairly large capital outlay is avoided. The ability to sync all work and play on one device or laptop can also be a big win for on-the-go working professionals. 

Enterprise Windows laptop tracking systems allow IT security to track these personal devices too. As long as a company is upfront about its installation of these programs on devices and is able to lay out what is business vs. personal items on the computer, there is no difference in tracking when it comes to employees using their personal devices. No matter whether you need to protect customer lists, trade secrets, credit card information, other intellectual property, medical records, or even data on students and teachers in an education setting, the right tracking program should let you do it all with ease.

How to locate your windows laptop?

For laptop tracking, most people use the built-in “Find My Device” function that’s available to help locate Windows devices. It’s an onboard Windows tracker system. Microsoft Find My Device allows you to locate and lock a laptop. It works on PCs, laptops, Surfaces, or Surface Pens. For corporate devices, IT personnel with administrative rights can set this up via a Group Policy

Although the Microsoft Find My Device feature is in essence a Windows laptop tracker, it does not have the robust company-wide benefits of a full-fledged device security package, like Prey or other developed software. The difference with enterprise systems is the simplification of device management and automation in security for any size environment. 

Prey software also enables IT personnel to: 

  • locate Windows devices
  • activate an alarm on any laptop
  • display a message on its screen
  • lock it down, remotely and in real-time

An enterprise tracking solution should also be easy to install on your devices and simple to set up. Utilizing dashboards to locate and monitor all of your important equipment is just one other benefit of programs that are created specifically to help businesses keep better records of their tech and their property. 

Through tested tracking features, like Prey’s smart tracking functionality, IT departments will always know where company devices are located via multiple location methods, including active tracking, which gathers new locations when device movement is detected, GPS, WiFI triangulation, and GeoIP to locate your phone, laptop, or tablet.

Costs and implementation of windows device tracking solutions

Implementing a Windows device tracking solution can be a cost-effective way to secure your company's laptops and other devices. The cost of these solutions can vary depending on the number of devices you need to track, the features you require, and the vendor you choose. 

Some solutions offer a monthly or annual subscription fee, while others may require a one-time payment or a purchase of licenses. When evaluating the cost of a device tracking solution, it's important to consider the value it provides in terms of data security and recovery.

The implementation process for a Windows device tracking solution can vary depending on the vendor and the specific solution. In general, it involves installing the software on each device, configuring the settings and policies, and training employees on how to use it. Some options may require additional hardware or network infrastructure to function properly. It's important to work with the vendor or a qualified IT professional to ensure that the solution is properly set up and integrated into your existing security systems.

Potential challenges and limitations

While Windows device tracking solutions can provide a high level of security and data recovery capabilities, there are potential challenges and limitations to keep in mind. One of the main challenges is the need for employee buy-in and compliance. If employees are not properly trained on the use of the device tracking solution, or if they choose to bypass or disable it, the solution may not provide the level of security intended. Additionally, there may be limitations in terms of the level of access or control that the solution provides, particularly if the device is stolen or lost.

Another potential limitation is that some device tracking solutions may not be compatible with certain older or specialized hardware. Additionally, if the device is not connected to the internet, the tracking solution may not be able to provide real-time location data or remote wipe capabilities. 

Furthermore, the solution could be costly to implement and maintain, thus making it a limitation for some organizations.

It's important to carefully evaluate the potential challenges and limitations of a device-tracking solution before implementing it, and to have a plan in place for addressing these issues.

Takeaways

It’s more likely than not that, at some point, your laptop, tablet, or cell phone will be lost or stolen. However, because this is our reality, there are now outstanding solutions to combat the threat of lost property and data.

In summary, using a Windows device tracking solution with mobile device management (MDM) capabilities can improve compliance, prevent theft and information loss, monitor remote employees, improve data security, and make devices easier to manage. It brings many benefits to the organization, such as streamlining. In addition, it supports business growth, optimizes mobile device spending, and provides the ability to find and protect laptops and devices. 

A full-fledged enterprise tracking solution offers advanced features and automation to simplify device management and security for businesses of all sizes. For example, the Microsoft Find My Device feature is a built-in Windows laptop tracker. Still, advanced software solutions like Prey can provide a more robust and comprehensive enterprise-grade tracking experience.

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