There is only one thing worse than losing your Android phone, and that is losing your phone when you have a lot of personal stuff on it. If the thought of someone else gaining access to your apps, emails, or secret plans to rule the world scares you, we’ve got you covered.
If you make sure to follow all of these steps, you can have peace of mind when your phone goes missing. Here are the steps necessary to protect your data remotely.
SEE AS WELL: 5 best phone trackers for extra security on Android and iOS
If you want to be able to wipe your phone remotely, you need to install the Find My Device application and check your settings. It should be enabled by default, but verify that:
- First, go to the Google Play Store and download Find My Device.
- Go to Google settings> Security> Find my device.
- Make sure Find My Device is turned on.
- Allow access to your device’s location by the app.
If you have an older device, you may also need to follow these steps with the older version of Find My Device (Android Device Manager):
- Search Allow remote lock and wipe and make sure it is turned on.
- Activate the second toggle in the Device Manager: Remotely locate this device.
- Check that both settings are enabled.
Find my device also works for tablets, but if you have multiple user accounts, only the person who is the owner of the tablet can set these features.
Google’s own video explains how to use Find My Device in case of lost phone:
It’s also a good idea to take a few other precautions: don’t store anything sensitive on microSD cards (remote erase can’t erase them), make sure you have a decent lock code or pattern, and consider investing in an app such as as AirDroid Where Lookout. Both apps offer remote wipe functionality, but they can also transfer crucial data before you unplug the plug.
Remark : all the options described below not only require you to install apps like Find My Device beforehand, but also expects the thief to keep your smartphone on and let it connect to a data network. Most thieves can easily bypass this loophole by immediately turning off the phone, removing the SIM card or worse, performing a hard reset.
Oh no! Your phone is gone! It’s time to act, and by action we mean Find My Device. You can access Find My Device in two ways: through the Find My Device app on another Android device, or via website here.
Once connected, Find My Device will attempt to locate your missing device. If it’s on and can receive a signal, you’ll see the location on a map. You’ll also see three options: call it, lock it, or wipe it remotely. If the device is not turned on or cannot receive a signal, Find My Device will report its location when it turns on and connects to a Wi-Fi or cellular network.
At this point, you can erase all the data on your phone, but we strongly recommend that you try the less serious options before going nuclear and deleting everything. Try them in this order:
Lost phones are often misplaced rather than permanently lost or stolen. You can use Find My Device to ring the phone loudly for a full five minutes. This allows you to find your phone if it has fallen on the floor of your car or if it has been hidden in a slipper by one of your children – these things happen!
A second non-nuclear option is available to you: change the lock screen so that the next time you switch on the phone, your message is displayed. “GIVE ME MY PHONE RETURN” is likely to be counterproductive, but a “Please call me” message, possibly accompanied by a small reward, might work well.
Try that? Still no joy? OKAY. It’s time to destroy your data.
You will have the option to erase your data, but keep in mind that data on SD cards cannot be deleted, and if it turns out that it has not been stolen or permanently lost, you you will probably need your Google password to use it. again after erasing. You will also not be able to use the Find My Device app after this process.
Choosing the erase option will remotely erase your phone or tablet on some devices. It’s the same as performing a full factory reset, so it will delete all of your settings, music, photos, and apps (but of course, not the SD card). As with Locking, if the missing phone is turned off, selecting this option will wipe it remotely once it is back online.
If you are worried enough to take this option, you should also access your Google account and revoke access to your missing phone. You want to take extra precautions because very determined hackers can still access your data even after a factory reset. We also recommend that you change the passwords for your online services. The likelihood of a lost phone leading bad guys to gain access to all of your stuff is very low, but it doesn’t take long to completely remove this possibility.
If Find My Device fails to connect, there are two other things you can try. Google Maps tracks your phone’s location history – or at least if you haven’t turned this feature off in your Google account – so sometimes you can find out where your missing phone was by visiting the page Position history and checking the timestamps. It won’t necessarily tell you where your phone is now, but it can tell you where it has been.
Another option is to use an application such as Android Lost, which works well on older Android devices. This is one of the few solutions that you can install remotely, so it’s a good option if you haven’t enabled the Find My Device options specified above. The app and website looks terrible but works well, although the device does need to be online via cellular network or Wi-Fi for it to work.
Did you use Find My Device or another method to successfully find or erase a lost phone? Let us know in the comments!