For many, it’s their worst nightmare: A moment’s distraction, and uh-oh – the phone is gone. In an instant, everything’s gone. From contact details, family photos, to personal info and notes… Everything is now in the hands of a complete and utter stranger. Not a nice feeling at all.
So, what can you do to protect yourself if the worst of the worst happens so that you don’t lose your data with it?
The first step is a must: Set up a lock screen. Depending on the device, this can include a pattern, a PIN code, a fingerprint, or even a facial scan on the latest devices. Make sure you don’t use a simple combination, like 1234, and never keep a written copy of the unlock code with the phone. At least this makes it slightly more difficult for a thief to access your information, and you gain a bit more time.
Another important step is to make regular backups. Doing so means that at least you still have access to your information even if your smartphone goes missing. Most brands now offer their own cloud solutions: Apple has iCloud; Android devices typically backup using Google Drive and Google Photos. The key difference between them is that Apple makes practically a 1:1 backup of your iPhone which can be transferred to a new phone. Things currently aren’t as easy as that with Android.
However, you must make sure you’ve enabled the backup option as no device backs up everything by itself.
Apple offers a very detailed explanation on its Support pages on how to configure automatic backups:
- Tap Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup and make sure that iCloud Backup is enabled. If you’re running iOS 10.2 or earlier, tap Settings > iCloud > Backup.
- Connect your device to a power source.
- Connect your device to Wi-Fi.
- Make sure your device’s screen is locked.
- Check whether you have sufficient iCloud storage space for the backup. When you sign up to iCloud, you’re given 5 GB of iCloud storage for free. If you need more iCloud storage, you can buy it on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac. Storage plans start at 50 GB for €0.99 a month. Click here to learn more about plans and pricing in your region.
With Android, how you configure the setting differs depending on the device. Typically, you’ll find the option in the Settings under “Backup and reset”. You can also enable automatic backups under this option. Google then stores your information in Google Drive. Following that, you can view your information on any computer once you’ve signed in to Google. Google doesn’t just save your contact data and calendar entries, but also many other useful information too. So, if you ever lose your smartphone this makes it a breeze to restore all your old data to your new phone.
On top of making regular backups, it’s worthwhile storing a separate copy of the photos stored on your smartphone. Thankfully, there are a range of options available to help you do this. Arguably the most popular and easiest, particularly for Android devices, is Google Photos. It stores all your photos automatically in Google Drive under the Photos section. Google also adds the date and time to your photos, and even creates small collections and animations. And best of all, you get unlimited storage – really handy if you simply want to free up more space on your smartphone by shifting your photos to the cloud.
Other options include Dropbox and OneDrive. These services also make it really easy to store all your photos in the cloud automatically. That said, remember that storage is limited – and the backup process will stop when you’ve run out of space. Apple offers its own solution in the form of iCloud. The backup settings can be configured on any device via the Photos app.
Find my Phone
If you’ve already lost your smartphone, you should definitely think about trying to locate it and, if possible, wiping it remotely.
Google offers a simple, but very comprehensive solution for any Android device which lets you do precisely that. You can use it to locate your smartphone, make it ring, try calling it, or perform a factory data reset. This is definitely worthwhile doing if you don’t know who’s now got hold of your phone.
Apple offers a similar service, but you need to enable it. The first step is to download the Find My iPhone app. There are instructions in the app’s description on how to configure it. In an emergency, you can then use it – just like Google’s solution – to access your smartphone, locate it, and wipe it from any computer.
Alternatively, you can use other services such as our Avira Connect solution. The advantage with this is that you can manage all your devices in one place.