Track a USB drive?

So recently I had a USB drive stolen from me that had important psd files for my school (like logos and shit). I'll most likely never get it back but was hoping I might be able do something to keep my next USB drive safe. Is there any type of software I can put on the drive that when plugged into windows/ Mac computers will contact my home computer giving me the IP address ? I know from a IP address I can get a general location and in the right cases (like knowing your schools network admin) even find the computer that was used.

Yes and no from my limited knowledge. What it sound like is you you want your own malware or virus, nothing malicious but that basically what that would be. Silently running whenever the USB is plugged in and reporting some information.

Not sure if enterprise has any tools like this, someone else might.

Ok, thank you:)

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you can set up a script to execute on mount. This is a nifty little project and very doable. Does the OP @ndog4664 have programming experience?


What you might want is a phantom keyboard software that will ping your own DNS service (if you have dynamic IP or in general to protect your own IP) and sends a "whois" type of information to you. Why not use encryption for your private data next time?

You would have to use a custom microcontroller that presented itself as as USB keyboard, sent a HTTP GET to your logging server, and then switched back to a USB storage device.

The question is, if you will actually get your USB drive back, when you have the thief's IP address (given that it actually is an IP address that's qualified to identify him). Assuming you contact the police and they manage to return the USB drive to you (questionable for the value), would you still want to use it? I mean you can't be certain what the thief did with it.

The better option, as @MetalizeYourBrain mentioned, would be to encrypt the data and keep some backups of the encrypted data. If you use a Mac, you can encrypt the drive with a few clicks through Disk Utility, but keep in mind this way the drive will only work on Macs. If you are running Windows or Linux (or macOS), there is VeryCrypt, which is a fork of the discontinued TrueCrypt 7.1a, that you can use to encrypt the whole drive with a password.

Hope this helps :)

or go to the other extreme. put ransomware on it. then the thief will have to contact you.


Or you know see it happened and then just casually walk away from the college library PC... Maybe not a great idea.

I'd be really wary of stuff like this. some laws can classify that as malware.

It might be totally moral but that's not always what's legal.

I don't think you want to count on the cops being understanding about this sort of thing.

I'm with Metalize and Comfreak, encrypt your stuff, keep a backup.

An application to secure your device? It's no different than the service provided by, Prey, iAlert or any of the 'Lo-Jack' style device recover/discovery tools out there...

With all do respect, you are mistaken in the interpretation of my application.


I agree with you that your app is no different form those "official"/"mainstream"/etc. out there. And it's cool that you know how to make such a tool.

I just think the authorities might not interpret some one writing code onto a USB stick that phones them and hands them an IP when some one plugs it in.

Lawyers and beat cops are not software engineers, I don't see 10/10 of them interpreting this as a home made tool to recover your possessions after theft.

I'm not even suggesting OP shouldn't do it anyway, I just think all possible consequences might be worth contemplating.


Not really, I've only done coding once and it was for a robotics class I took and I can't even really remember that

I can use encryption but encryption won't get the data back if the drive is stolen

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Backups man, even if you have an un-stealable drive. One day it will die, and your data may be gone then as well.

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Backups are nice and all but I could be starting a logo or project at my school and if it gets stolen before I get home to back it up I would have to restart that project so another option would be a USB that can back itself up over the internet but idk how that would be done.

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I think I found something that might work. Google desktop sync utility. It won't let me track the drive as far as i know but will create a online backup of a folder the utility creates. So if I put veracrypt and this on it I should be able to keep my files secure and backup in case the drive is lost. I still have to make sure this will work for any computer I plug it into though.

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my cousin had her car stolen around christmas. the police had and still have the EXACT gps location within 5 meters and havent done shit in months or called back or anything. they dont consider it worth their time. if you report a stolen usb the cops will laugh at you and wont do shit.


You could get a raspberry pi zero or clone and setup up to act as a usb mass storage and Ethernet gadget that what you could have the pi email you when its plugged in and powered on. the only problem is its a bit bigger than a standard usb drive so you would have to make a case but I think it's worth it when you a linux computer as a usb drive


You could install Drivedroid on your phone (Assuming its android) and use your phone as the usb drive

Let me sum the responses up for you.

  1. Will need to spend time setting things up. (difficulty could be outside your knowledge)
  2. cost of resources are not worth it.
  3. Will need to invest in creating malware.
  4. Malware will most likely be picked up by school AV and flagged.
  5. You still need to worry about data backups and security.

Solution: use two, or more, encrypted flashdrives to store your data on while at school. Then when at home/dorm back up data to cloud provider of choice.

This method should ensure you will always at least have one flashdrive with your encrypted data on it, should it be lost or stolen.

Another good practice is to have a README.txt file inside of the root directory with your contact info, should it be lost and found. (provided its not the part thats encrypted)