With a little forethought and some planning you can avoid the nightmare of a lost or stolen phone. Just as you might print your name on all your tools at work or add name tags to your pets, you should take a moment and install a tracking service onto your phone or tablet. Every major brand has one, here’s where to find the solution for yours.
Apple – Find My Device
For iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac Computers
Part of Apple’s free iCloud service, the Find My Device program can use GPS or Wireless networks to locate your device on a map. From there you can select Lost Mode to shuts down access to your personal information, but keep basic features active so that anyone who finds your phone can still contact you.
You can also have it play a sound and display a message to draw attention, hopefully recruiting help from anyone nearby.
These services won’t work if your device is turned off, but you can have Apple monitor the situation and when device does get turned on and connects online, they will send you an e-mail notice so you can start tracking.
RIM – BlackBerry Protect
This service will back-up the contents of your phone to RIM’s secure servers. Should your phone go missing, you can log into your BlackBarry ID account and put in a request to have it lock off your information and display a contact message for anyone who may find it.
As long as it’s still connected online, you can perform a track to locate it on a map. If it’s in a friendly location, you can have play a ringtone to recruit help or if the location is unfriendly place, perhaps somewhere you’ll never get to again, you can issue a remote wipe which will erase all of the phone’s content.
Microsoft – Find My Phone
Unlike the services above, this one comes pre-installed with all Windows phones, you just need to turn it on.
When lost, you can log into your MyPhone account from any computer and issue a trace that will locate your device on a map. You can opt to then have its ringer sound to draw attention, display a contact message, or lock down all your personal information.
If you doubt you’ll ever get your phone back, you can issue a wipe command to remote-erase all of its content.
These services will only work if the phone is turned on, connected to the network, and if you took the precaution to turn on the feature when the phone was in your possession.
Alienman Tech – Where’s My Droid
Android Smartphones And Tablets
Strange as it may seem, Google does not offer a protection service for their Android phones. They’ve left it up to carriers and app developers to explore solutions in their place. There are so many available, it would take another article just to sort through them all. Instead I’ll recommend what I think is the best option.
Where’s My Droid is a much-used, much-trusted, and free app.
Unlike the services I’ve listed above for other brands, which must be activated before your phone goes missing, you can install the Lite Version of Where’s My Droid after your phone has gone missing. Just add the app to your Google account and the phone will be triggered to install it remotely, then activate it’s GPS. It will then e-mail you with the coordinates and Google Maps link to its location.
There’s better options, however, if you have the presence of mind to install the normal version of the app far in advance.
You can have it draw attention by sounding a customized ringtone, set off a camera flash, or display a contact message.
For more advanced options, such as locking off your personal information or remote-erasing your phone, you’ll need to purchase an upgrade to the Pro version.