Losing your mobile device – smartphone, tablet or laptop – can be a traumatic experience. Life in the modern world is so device-driven that suddenly being without the gadget you’ve come to rely on can be amajor inconvenience. Even more of a drag than paying for a new phone is recovering all those saved contacts, emails, documents, photos, music files and passwords c — if you even can, that is.
Don’t panic. We’ve got some helpful tips for you to lock, locate and recover your device, and give you better peace of mind.
Locking your device with a password can help ensure that your data is kept safe in the event of loss or theft.
For laptops, mobile devices and tablets, we recommend using a strong password that is at least 8 characters long. It should contain a combination of numbers, letters and symbols, using a combination of upper and lower case whenever possible. For added protection, laptops should be physically locked when left unattended (even at home). Finally, never write down your password (it makes it easier for someone to find it) or tell anyone what it is.
If you misplace your device before you’ve had a chance to lock it with a password, make sure to change the passwords to all personal accounts your accessed through that device before it disappeared, or else whoever finds the device will have access to all of them. This is especially important for email accounts, online banking login information and social media sites, because they tend to contain the most valuable personal information.
Also, be sure to contact your service provider when you discover your device is missing. Many providers are able to remotely lock your device or account, helping to prevent unwanted phone calls, data usage and costly fees.
While passwords and locks are a good first line of defense, there are several additional ways to protect your device if you set it down somewhere, or it falls out of your pocket.
One of the first things to do is install a mobile security suite on your mobile device. On Android smartphones, free apps like Lookout Mobile Security, Norton Mobile Security Lite, Seekdroid Lite and Webroot Secure Anywhere Mobile let you remotely locate your device, lock it, and/or delete all the data in it.
Users of the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can get similar functionality by, installing the free Find My iPhone app. Users can sign in with their Apple ID, and a map showing the approximate location of their device will be available. The app gives users the option of displaying a message on the lost hardware, locking it down, or remotely wiping it.
For even more security, you might want to check out Geek Squad’sLocked & Found app($2.99/month). It allows users to remotely lock their device and use GPS to locate it. Plus, if someone finds your device, they can report it through the device even if you locked it. If your device is stolen, Locked and Found can take a picture of the person holding the device and turn on a screaming alarm. We also have a 24/7 service available to facilitate getting your Apple, Android or Blackberry device back to you, and is included in Geek Squad Protection plans (or can be purchased purchased as a standalone app).
LoJack for Laptops is another lock, locate and recover service available specifically for laptops. As with the services for smartphones, LoJack allows subscribers to remotely lock and delete files from the laptop if it is ever stolen. The system uses patented technology to track the laptop and assist local law enforcement to recover it. Plans start at $40 per year.
If you haven’t installed a security program on your device, you can always try locating your device by contacting it via phone, text or email. If you’ve installed them, you can use free services, such as Skype orGoogle Voice. You can also send the device a detailed message with information on how to return your missing device through email or SMS message using Gmail.
Equipment is replaceable. Often times, data is not. Make sure you don’t lose your data by regularly backing up your gadget’s information.
With the proper utilities, you can easily synch your smartphone or tablet to your computer using the USB port to transfer information. You can also use a cloud storage app such as iCloud (free) for Apple andMyBackup Pro ($4.99) for Android, which allow users to back-up and access their mobile device’s data from any location. If you’re a Google+ user, the Instant Upload feature automatically uploads photos and videos from your smartphone to a private album, so you never lose a memory.
With PC laptops, software programs such as Genie Backup Manager($39.95), Norton Ghost ($69.99) and Second Copy ($29.95) automatically maintain current archives of your personal information (as does Time Machine for Macintosh computers). You can access cloud storage sites such as Evault and IBackup from any Internet connection.
Want to back things up the old-fashioned way? Burn it to CD/DVDs, or manually copy your data to external hard drives or USB devices (just remember to back up your data on a regular basis).
No matter which approach to securing your mobile devices your choose, always remember that in our mobile world, data security comes down to three words – lock, locate and recover.