Lose your laptop these days and you lose part of your life: You say good-bye to photos, music, and personal documents that cannot be replaced, and if it's a work computer, you may be the source of a very public data breach. But now, researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, have found a way to give you a shot at getting your life back. On Monday, they plan to launch a new laptop tracking service, called Adeona that is free and private.
Named after the Roman goddess credited with guiding children back to their parents, Adeona uses software that has been under development for the past year. Here's how it works: A user downloads the free client software onto a laptop. That software then starts anonymously sending encrypted notes about the computer's whereabouts to servers on the Internet. If the laptop ever goes missing, the user downloads another program, enters a username and password, and then picks up this information from the servers, specifically a free storage service that has been around for several years, called OpenDHT.