Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Advertisement

We live most of our lives nowadays with our smartphones by our side. They’re a constant companion at home, work, or on holiday How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life How Smartphones Are Ruining Your Life Your smartphone could be ruining your life, or at least have the capacity to do so in the future. Read More .

They are more valuable to us than just the money we spent on them since they can hold personal information and beloved photos. That’s why losing your device can be devastating. Whether you’ve misplaced it around your house, or had it stolen, there are Android apps that can help you recover your missing pal How to Return a Lost Phone in Four Easy Steps How to Return a Lost Phone in Four Easy Steps Every year, millions drop their mobile into the unknown. In the US, about 50% of lost devices are returned to their owners. The rest get resold or reused – while thievery may seem eco-friendly and... Read More .

Android Device Manager

If your phone ends up either lost or stolen and you never installed a tracking app, you might still have a way of finding it.

The majority of Android devices released since 2014 will come pre-installed with Google’s location tracking app: Android Device Manager.

adm_overview

While it may not be as feature-intensive as some of the other apps available on the Play Store, it has the major advantage of coming pre-installed. All that you need is to have location services turned on and activate Android Device Manager as a Device Administrator Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today Smartphone Privacy Settings You Need To Activate Today Smartphones ship with plenty of default settings that could be leaking your info. Let's dive in and tweak them. Read More in the settings.

Advertisement

All the Android devices you have linked to your Google account will be displayed in the menu, including smartphones and tablets.

ADM gives you four actions you can perform:

  • Locate: As soon as you load ADM, the service will try to locate your most recently used device. You can use the menu to change between registered devices.
  • Ring: This is a great feature if you have misplaced your phone in your home or somewhere near you. This will force your phone to ring for five minutes at full volume, even if your phone is set to silent, or until you press the power button.
  • Lock: Using this option will force the lockscreen to lock, even if the device is in use. You can create a new password to unlock the device, meaning that even if someone else has access to your passwords, they still wouldn’t be able to bypass the lockscreen. You can even leave a customized message that will be displayed on the lockscreen.
  • Erase: Commonly known as the “nuclear” option. This will securely erase all data on your device. This should only be done as a last resort if you do not believe you will be able to retrieve your phone. As always, the best advice is to make sure you do regular backups of your phone Don't Lose Your Data: 5 Top Backup Solutions For Android Don't Lose Your Data: 5 Top Backup Solutions For Android Everybody needs to back up their data in case something happens to their device. Protect yourself with these amazing backup apps. Read More , so if you do need to go this route, it won’t be quite as devastating.

adm_guest_actions

Although most people will likely use the ADM web interface, the Android app also allows Guest sign-in, so if you are with a friend or coworker that has an Android device, you could use their phone to log yourself into the ADM service.

Also note that two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More is a great way to secure your accounts in the event of password leaks; however, it typically uses a form of identification on your phone, either as an SMS, phone call, or with an authenticator app. If you lose your phone, you won’t have access to any of these to sign-in to your Google account on other devices.

To prevent being locked out, you can find your Google Backup Codes, located in your Google Two-Step Security Settings. These are ten one-time-use codes that you can print and keep with you at all times as a fallback in case you can’t access your phone. You can then use one of these codes in place of your regular two-factor codes to login to your account.

Download for Android: Android Device Manager (Free)

Visit: Android Device Manager on the web

Prey

For those that want more customization options and features than the out-of-box experience that ADM offers, try Prey. It’s a solid open-source alternative Open Source Software Licenses: Which Should You Use? Open Source Software Licenses: Which Should You Use? Did you know that not all open source licenses are the same? Read More .

prey_web

Prey’s major selling point over ADM is that it has far more precise tracking and can operate on a wide variety of devices – not just Android. This is particularly useful if you have multiple devices, or other members of your family aren’t on the same operating system as you.

prey_permissions

Unlike the free-to-use ADM, Prey is a freemium app. Most of the features are free, and you can use them as often as you want. However, they also offer premium tiers: Personal for up to three devices at $54/year, or Home for up to ten devices at $162/year. They also have Custom plans where you can adjust the amount of devices required on the account.

The free account, which allows up to three devices, has four actions:

  • Alarm. This will make the phone emit a loud (and fairly piercing) alarm tone for up to 30 seconds to help you locate your phone if you have misplaced it nearby.
  • Message. This allows you to add a message on the lockscreen of your device. The standard message reads “This device is stolen property. Please contact [your email address] to arrange its safe return.” Although you can customize this if you choose.
  • Camouflage. If your phone has been stolen, then you may not want the suspected thief to know that you can track their movements. Enabling Camouflage hides the Prey icon from your app drawer.
  • Lock. Just as with ADM, you can use this action to force the device to lock (even when in use), and it can only be unlocked with a password you set in the Prey action panel.

If you want the ability to wipe the device, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the premium accounts.

prey_settings

Prey can also remotely perform these actions even if you have no active internet connection by allowing you to send SMS commands that will be seen by the app and activated. For added security, you can also add two-factor authentication to your Prey account. To prevent you being locked out in case of a missing device, they also provide you with a one-time login code.

prey_reporting

If you do lose your phone, you have the option to set it as missing in the Prey dashboard. This activates Prey’s device reporting, and Prey will start passively gathering data from the device about its location, as well as taking pictures in the background from your device’s cameras.

Prey’s free accounts will save the last 20 reporting events at an interval of 10 or 20 minutes, and this can be extended to 100 events, at a frequency of two minutes in premium accounts.

prey_control_zone

Prey also has a geofencing feature called Control Zones, which allows you to set a location geofence How You Can Use Geofencing to Improve Your Privacy & Security How You Can Use Geofencing to Improve Your Privacy & Security Geofencing uses GPS to define geographical boundaries, and can prove very useful in managing your personal security. Read More  so that you will be notified if any device leaves your pre-defined area. Although this is aimed more at device administrators in businesses, it is available on the free accounts, so it is open to everyone.

Download for Android: Prey (Free)

Download for iPhone and iPad:  Prey (Free)

Visit: Prey on the web

Which Will You Use?

Android Device Manager is a great option for most Android users because it’s free and super easy to use. However, Prey’s additional functions, ability to work across devices on multiple operating systems, and focus towards device theft, make it a compelling competitor worth installing, even if you choose not to opt for the premium account.

Which will you choose to use? Do you have any other suggestions? Has a Find My Phone app ever saved your device? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally written by Evan Wondrasek on May 31st, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. mehak
    January 21, 2017 at 5:39 am

    good idea admin...here I have written latest article

  2. Kinot
    January 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I am using all of them in same times.and lastest been installed is avast.apk that allow user to take photo (rear and front cam ) via stolen device from another device.if any wont work,one of them will work great.

  3. ReadandShare
    December 17, 2016 at 6:43 am

    My Nexus 7 was stolen recently. Using ADM, I attempted to lock and erase within 30 minutes. ADM was never able to track down the device.

    I think most thieves wouldn't even bother with the lock screen, while risking the device phoning home and tracking them. Instead, they just do a factory reset - and the device is theirs to sell -- or use.

  4. Chinenye Okafor
    October 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Hi. I've lost my Samsung Galaxy On5. Can you please help me find it?

  5. annie
    August 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Ssir i lost my asus zenfone 2 laser yesterday please help me to find it

  6. Sana
    July 20, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Hi, lost my Samsung Galaxy s5 last Saturday please please please help me find it.

  7. Prashant kumar
    July 11, 2016 at 5:06 am

    Dear sir
    i lost my phone today how can i found it plz help me

  8. KAJOL
    December 26, 2015 at 8:08 am

    HI I HAVE LOST MY MOBILE YESTURDAY IN DELHI HOW CAN I FIND THIS PLEASE HELP ME SIR FOR FIND HIM

  9. lilian
    March 25, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Helllo ..what if the thief has already done factory reset...? What is the maximum time that i can track my stolen phone?

  10. Dr. Watson
    December 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    See, my problem is that I live on 40 acres of land, and my phone fell out of my pocket at some point while I was walking... Even worse, I am out of data, and it has been lost for 3 days now, somewhere in the infinate leaves. FML

  11. usb flash drive
    June 15, 2010 at 7:25 am

    You can backup text messages and contacts, and the program's online server to keep a copy of your phone's data synced. Also, if your phone is stolen, you can track it down, find it on Google maps, and also remote lock it or wipe it completely. Works great!

  12. imdragon
    June 3, 2010 at 5:29 am

    I agree, with Elena. Not sure what the subscription status is of WaveSecure now, it seems like I have a free lifetime subscription for being an early beta tester but it does remote lock, remote backup, remote wipe, you can also schedule automatic backups as well. It also has the ability to make it impossible to uninstall.

    I will try Mobile Defense as it looks pretty neat as well, but I like my WaveSecure :D

  13. Evan Wondrasek
    June 1, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Jac,

    Once the phone has been turned off, applications can no longer interact with it. The best you can do is hope the thief leaves the phone on, which from my research happens more than you would think.

    In the old days (before apps), if your phone was lost or stolen, it was usually gone forever. Yhis at least gives us some options! :)

  14. Simon Slangen
    June 1, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Great article, thanks!

  15. Elena
    June 1, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Hey! Nice tips. I use WaveSecure, another great Android app for these cases. You can backup text messages and contacts, and keep a synced copy of your phone's data on the program's online servers. Also, if your phone is stolen, you can track it down, locate it on Google maps, and even remote lock it or wipe it completely. Works great!

    • Evan Wondrasek
      June 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation! I will check it out.

    • Anonymous
      June 3, 2010 at 3:29 am

      I agree, with Elena. Not sure what the subscription status is of WaveSecure now, it seems like I have a free lifetime subscription for being an early beta tester but it does remote lock, remote backup, remote wipe, you can also schedule automatic backups as well. It also has the ability to make it impossible to uninstall.

      I will try Mobile Defense as it looks pretty neat as well, but I like my WaveSecure :D

  16. Jac
    June 1, 2010 at 6:13 am

    First thing the thief will do is turn the phone off....and what then? Any applications out there that can turn the phone back on and keep tracking it?

    • Evan Wondrasek
      June 1, 2010 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Jac,

      Once the phone has been turned off, applications can no longer interact with it. The best you can do is hope the thief leaves the phone on, which from my research happens more than you would think.

      In the old days (before apps), if your phone was lost or stolen, it was usually gone forever. Yhis at least gives us some options! :)

  17. Nat Jay
    June 1, 2010 at 6:04 am

    There seems to be as much attention to recovering lost phones as it is in developing apps to recover lost phones. I wish there were in-built mechanisms within those expensive smartphones so that recovery-protection is enabled right when you buy the phone -- not after you've lost it.

    • Jacob
      May 17, 2016 at 1:05 am

      That's exactly what I was thinking.

  18. anonymous
    June 1, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Thanks for the tips, always wanted an article like this.