Installation Instructions for VUWER

(Dropbox Data Delivery – Installation Option 3)


Option 3 is recommended for most users due to its ease of installation and use.  All that is required is to set up a Dropbox account for VUWER, or to authorize VUWER to use an existing Dropbox account.  The installer obtains an access token which VUWER then uses to upload files via the Dropbox API (Application Program Interface).

The VUWER control file is placed in a folder on Dropbox, and all files generated by VUWER are uploaded to that same folder.  To view or edit those files, the user needs only to log into the Dropbox account from another computer.


Part I – Setting Up a Dropbox Account

Go to and create a free Dropbox account for VUWER to use.  If you wish, you can use an existing Dropbox account, since VUWER can only upload or download files from the Dropbox Apps folder.  However, if you normally prefer to run the Dropbox application on your desktop to make your Dropbox folder accessible to OS X, a separate VUWER Dropbox account may provide additional security by keeping the activity of VUWER hidden from anyone who uses your computer.

Once you have created (or chosen) a Dropbox account for VUWER to use, log into Dropbox at with the VUWER account credentials, and then proceed with the installation process.


Part II – Installing VUWER


Š      Installing the VUWER Application

(1)   Download the VUWER disk image to your laptop.  Double-click the VUWER.dmg file, and a disk image will mount on the desktop.  Double-click and run VUWER



(2)   The first two screens show the copyright notice.  By clicking “Agree”, you agree to the usage and distribution terms for VUWER.





(3)   Choose the “Install / re-install / upgrade VUWER” option.




(4)   Type in your administrative password to begin the installation.



(5)   Select Installation Option 3.



(6)   If you haven’t created or chosen a Dropbox account for VUWER to use (see previous section in this documentation), stop and do it now.



(7)   VUWER setup will use the previously stored configuration (if one exists) unless you specify the default configuration instead.  Note: If you are installing VUWER for the first time, you will get a warning message that the configuration file does not exist, and VUWER will automatically use its default values.



(8)   Use Safari to log into the VUWER Dropbox account at, then click ‘Continue’.


(9)   Copy and paste the access token generated by the Dropbox web site.  Note that you may be asked permission for VUWER to access your Dropbox account.




(10)       Test the Dropbox connection to confirm that it works.  If it fails, make sure that you entered the access token correctly.  The vuwercontrol.txt file (and all other VUWER data files) can be found in the /Apps/VUWER folder of the Dropbox account.


(11)       Next, you have the option to turn on VUWER desktop notifications.  As long as VUWER is in standby mode, you will see a brief desktop notification every time VUWER updates its status, even if you log out of the VUWER Dropbox account.

(12)       Enter a password to activate VUWER in case your laptop is stolen (the default value is ihavebeenstolen).  The password should not contain spaces or quotation marks.  Don’t use the same password you use for your email, or for the administrative account on your laptop.



(13)       If you want VUWER to capture iSight/FaceTime camera images, click “Yes” on this window.



(14)       VUWER will save a test image to the desktop to confirm that the camera is working.



(15)       You have the option of setting VUWER to transmit a set of images and IP geolocation data at every login.  I personally recommend this, as it might get you at least one image of a thief before you realize your laptop is stolen.  Furthermore, this option will help confirm that VUWER continues to function properly.




(16)       If you have not previously done so, you can now enable various user accounts on your computer to run VUWER.  (You can enable or disable user accounts from the main menu at any time.)




(17)       Set the enable / disable status of the user accounts on your computer, then click ‘Done’.




(18)       You must log out, then log in, (or restart) to complete the VUWER installation process.




Š      Completing the Installation

Restart the computer (or log out and then log in to the user account), and VUWER should begin running.  If VUWER is working properly, the vuwerstatus.txt file (located in the /Apps/VUWER folder of the Dropbox account) should be updated within a few minutes.

As part of the installation process, VUWER Setup creates the VUWER Control Panel (VCP) application on your desktop.  The VCP application allows you to easily check the status of VUWER, switch between standby and lost / stolen mode, or change VUWER’s data capture settings.  You should copy this application to a USB flash drive or to another computer, so that you can activate VUWER in case your computer is lost or stolen.

If VCP is not available, VUWER can be controlled manually by editing the vuwercontrol.txt file on Dropbox.  For example:

(a)  To test VUWER after installation, “15 15 15 15 ok” can be used to tell VUWER to check the web page every 15 minutes, and update the vuwerstatus.txt file every 15 minutes.

(b)  During normal operation, “15 360 15 15 ok” tells VUWER to check the web page every 15 minutes, and update the vuwerstatus.txt file every 360 minutes.  For a desktop computer that is always left turned on, “15 1440 15 15 ok” sends a status update once a day, while “15 10080 15 15 ok” sends an update once a week.

(c)  If your laptop is ever lost or stolen, “5 5 15 15 ihavebeenstolen” tells VUWER to send a screen capture image every 5 minutes, a camera image every 15 minutes, and IP geolocation information every 15 minutes to the remote account.  (Replace ‘ihavebeenstolen’ with whatever activation password you chose during installation.)

(d)  Once you have some good photos of the thief, “5 5 60 60 ihavebeenstolen” sends camera images and IP geolocation data only once an hour (so the thief is less likely to notice the blinking camera light), but a screen capture image every 5 minutes.

Click here for additional information about manually activating and using VUWER, and for more detailed information about the control text string.  This page provides information about VUWER geolocation, and the format of the image and data files created by VUWER.

The same VUWER Dropbox account can be easily shared in situations where multiple laptops must be monitored and controlled, just by giving a different name to each laptop, since each laptop has its own separate folder.  However, managing multiple computers from one Dropbox account presents an elevated security risk, since a clever thief who learned about VUWER could possibly erase the control and data files for multiple laptops, instead of just the one he had stolen.  While this is probably not a likely scenario for the average laptop thief, it is a risk that should be kept in mind.

Note:  If you run the Dropbox application on your computer while logged into the VUWER Dropbox account, you will receive notifications when any file in the Dropbox folder is updated, including the files in the VUWER folder.  This action is independent of VUWER’s operation.  You can either turn off Dropbox notifications in the Dropbox application, or you can change the vuwercontrol.txt file to a longer status update interval (e.g. 15 360 15 15 ok, or 15 720 15 15 ok, which means you will only get a status update once every 6 hours or 12 hours).


Part III – Securing Your Computer

Once VUWER has been installed and tested, your last task is to secure your laptop.  At the very least, you should create a firmware password for your computer (by default it does not have one) so that a thief cannot erase the internal drive and remove VUWER.  If you want to protect your personal data, you should also add a guest account for the thief to use, and use a screen login for your personal account.

Click here for more information on how to set a firmware password, create a guest account for your laptop, and implement password protection for your personal account.