Losing your smartphone can be a big problem, especially if you have pertinent data on it, such as bank information, passwords, personal addresses, and so on. Thankfully, Google has implemented a handy piece of software within Android to make sure thieves can’t get access that sensitive information.
Android Device Manager will let you attempt to locate, disable, and even erase your device remotely from your computer or another Android device. However, there are some measures you might want to take before accepting that your handset is gone forever.
Taking all the right measures
It’s important that you use any resource available to you to find your device. After all, smartphones and tablets are pricey pieces of equipment, and you don’t want to just give up searching for your lost device without having taken every measure possible.
If you lost it in your home, make sure that you’ve had others try and call it so that you can attempt to find it through sound. Alternatively, you can ring it from Android Device Manager as long as the device is connected to your Google account. If you have Android Device Manager ring your handset, it will have the smartphone sound off for 5 minutes at full volume. It’s an excellent feature to keep in the back of your mind, especially if you suspect your device could be on mute somewhere close by.
Losing your device while you’re out and about is another possibility. You never know if you accidentally left it at a restaurant table or a movie theater. There’s also the possibility of someone stealing it, which is fairly common in places like New York City and San Francisco. If you have a hunch that your device was stolen, and after efforts of trying to locate it yourself, it’s always best to call law enforcement, file a report, and have them look into it.
In some cases, police have been able to locate lost devices from others crimes committed. They’re also able to review surveillance tapes around the area you claim it was stolen, though some departments won’t go to that length of searching for lost goods.
If none of these measures work, it may be time to disable and/or wipe your device by working some magic with Android Device Manager.
Finding your device with Android Device Manager
Android Device Manager, unfortunately, is a fickle thing. I recommended that you only use a computer with Android Device Manager, as the mobile application is extremely buggy and, in some cases, doesn’t work.
Using it with the Axon Pro and Moto X (2013), I was having serious difficulties trying to get it to function properly. With that in mind, we’ll just be covering Android Device Manager on the computer, but if you want to give the Android app a try, you can do so by downloading it here. You can still follow along with this guide, as it should be the same basic process. That is, if it works for you or not.
On the Android Device Manager page, if your device is online and can be located, Google will show you where it’s at using Google Maps. However, if you have a hunch your device was stolen and not just left somewhere, it’s always best to call the authorities over searching for the stolen goods by yourself. In case you can’t see your device on the map, and if you plan on checking back every couple of hours, it’s best to make sure your device has a password lock on it as well.
If you want to lock your Android device, select the “Lock” button. From there, you can set up a new password for your Android device, and once submitted, it’ll replace your lock screen with a password lock. Just make sure that this password is significantly different from your Google account password.
Resetting your device is just as easy, if not easier. Instead of selecting the “Lock” option, click the “Reset” button. A prompt will appear with a disclaimer, outlining all of the data that you’re going to lose. If you’re alright with that, just click the “Erase” button. If your Android device is offline, Google will erase all of its data once the unit comes back online.
And there you have it! That’s how you try to locate, lock, and even erase your device.
How to turn off Android Device Manager
You might want to disable Android Device Manager for a myriad of reasons. One of them might be that someone could easily obtain your Google username and password in order to track your location. It’s not likely to happen, but still a concern for the world we live in.
Another great reason for turning it off is that your GPS is a battery drain. In this case, you’ll want to turn off your device’s location services, which in turn shuts down the ability for Android Device Manager to locate your phone.
Alternatively, you can outright turn Android Device Manager off. Head into Google Settings > Security, and under Android Device Manager, you’ll want to turn everything off. This effectively stops Android Device Manager from running.
And that’s everything you need to know about location, retrieving, and securing your Android device in the case of losing it to thievery or some other means. There obviously isn’t a lot of hope in getting your data back after erasing it, but you can at least rest in the fact that some person with malicious intent won’t be accessing any of your personal information. However, for future reference, be sure to check out our guide on backing up your data manually so that you never lose it again.
Have you ever had your device stolen? What did you do in that scenario?