Does Findmymac work if the thief formats my hard drive?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by enferrari, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. enferrari macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2011
    I had my MacBook Pro stolen from me and I'm scared that the thief will just swap hard drives or format mine and I wont be able to track it.
    If he does format or swap can I still track it? What should I do!?!?
    And how can I increase my chances of getting it back?
  2. mickpearcey macrumors member


    Jun 25, 2011
    Unfortunately not... when your HDD is wiped the software is wiped.

    The only thing you can do is submit a police report and hope they recover it by chance.

    I've read about people asking Apple to put it in their system as stolen detailing the serial with proof of purchase but I'm not 100% sure.
  3. enferrari thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2011
    Ugh Apple wont do anything but I understand that it was my responsibility to keep my MacBook safe. I hope it turns up. WHY ME!! AHH
  4. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Yup, reason why I think findmymac isn't that effective.

    Chances of the thief covering his tracks to that extent are slim to none though, personally I would still be hopeful.

    If a stole a Macbook Pro, my first order of business would be to shut it down and leave it off until I can swap out the hard drive. Most people leave their Wi-Fi on ... And even if the Macbook isn't connected to a network, its location can be found thanks to Google's IP-to-Location mapping.

    If for whatever reason, you turned off Wi-Fi before your laptop got stolen, then you're SOL.
  5. enferrari thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 27, 2011
    Well my wifi is on so I hope they're stupid enough to connect to the internet.
  6. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Strangely enough, most people will.
  7. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    Because most people who steal a laptop are stealing because the opportunity is there. Most people who steal for that reason aren't exactly smart, especially when it comes to computers. It works in our favor, generally.

    That being said, if I actually stole a computer, the first thing I'd do is format it and start spoofing my MAC address.
  8. andymac2210 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2011
    Why spoof the MAC address?

    Chances are, even if you get a location on it, it'll be approximate.
    And I can assure you, the police aren't going to execute a search warrant on 2 city blocks (is that what you call them in America?) because of a green circle on an iphone app.
  9. iThinkergoiMac macrumors 68030

    Jan 20, 2010
    True, but what if you're on the same network as the person you stole it from? I'm sure this happens often enough on large college campuses. When you have 20,000 students, it doesn't really matter if you go to the same college.
  10. Ccrew macrumors 68020

    Feb 28, 2011
    Has anyone specifically tested to know if it's broken by a format with the machine running Lion?

    Reason I say this is that I know Find My Mac makes use of the restore partition in Lion, it's actually broken if you delete that partition, but you have to go through convolutions to delete it. That may be overlooked by the casual thief that's just going to format the system partition and do a clean install. I haven't tested it but it's possible that it will still function post format.
  11. phyrexia macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2010
    Please explain to me how one could locate a machine not connected to the internet using a service on the internet. I must be misunderstanding your premise.
  12. Takashi macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2009
    You know, you do have to physically connect the computer to the internet (Via Cable or authorized WiFi access point) for "Find My mac" to work. Turning WiFi on w/o connecting to the internet will not work.
  13. SDAVE macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2007
    I highly recommend setting up a firmware password next time and also creating a standard user account without a password, so it would be easier for the thief to log in to the nearest wifi spot so you can catch them.

    I use Undercover and it's a good way of keeping it safe. It's worth every penny.

    From the stories that I've read about stealing Macs, it seems that thieves usually never pop out the drive and replace it, they usually just keep it in there and log in.

    These thieves are usually not too sophisticated when it comes to computers, so they'll either sell it to someone because they can't log in or try to find a way to format it (hopefully you have a firmware password on to make things harder for the thief)

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