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How to Delete Data That Is On a Lost or Stolen Android Smartphone

Having your Android Smartphone stolen or lost can be one of the most heartbreaking things in this world.

This is due to the fact that smartphones nowadays have become our personal assistants (for those of us who do not have the money to employ one) because they keep us updated on our events, alarms, and also because we store a large portion of our personal data on them.

These personal data could be in the form of our emails, messages, secret notes, credit card and email data, and even login details and other stuff that we occasionally save on our phone apps.

So as not to give anyone access to all these private data and to have peace of mind, there are some crucial steps that you need to take to be able to protect your data and remotely delete the data;

How to Delete Data on Your Lost or Stolen Android Smartphone

Install Find My Device

First among the crucial steps that you’ll need to take while your smartphone is still in your possession, is to install the app called “Find My Device” on it.

This app not only gives you the option of finding your device (as its name implies) but also comes along with the capability to remotely wipe out all data that’s on your phone.

Find My Device Logo
  • To download this app you go to the Google Play Store, search for and download the Google Find My Device app.
Find My Device App on the Google Playstore
  • After installation, you then go to Google Settings > Security > Find My Device
  • Once there you make sure that Find My Device is enabled
  • Then open the app and give it permission to access your device’s location.
Find My Device Settings

In the event that your android smartphone operates using an old version operating system (OS), the procedures that will authorize the app to function are to a slight extent different. Don’t worry they are listed below;

  • Look for ‘Allow remote lock and erase’ and make sure that it is turned on
  • Also check for and make sure that ‘Device Manager: Remotely Locate this Device’ is turned on too
  • Finally verify again these settings are switched on because if one is not the app will not work as it is intended to.

Here are some precautions you will need to lay hold of also;

  • Never store any kind of sensitive personal information on microSD (Memory) cards because remotely deleting your phone’s data will not remove anything that is stored here.
  • Ensure that you use a fit and secure lock code for your phone that cannot be easily thought of.
  • Examine some apps like AirDroid or Lookout because although they are not free, both apps give you the option of transferring crucial data away from the phone before it is erased clean

This Google Video also describes how to track your phone with the Find My Device app.

How to Locate and Track Your Android Smart Phone

Once the Find My Device app is installed on your phone, locating and tracking your android smartphone can be done in two possible ways, which are listed below;

  • Making use of the Find My Device app on a different android device, or
  • Making use of the Find My Device website

Once you have logged in, the app will make every effort to find the device that is associated with your account. As long as the device is able to get a signal, its location will be displayed on a map for you and three options will also be provided which are; ring it, lock it, and remotely wipe it.

In the event that the device is incapable of getting a signal (this could be due to the device being switched off or not having an internet connection), the Find My Device app will disclose the device’s location immediately after it is switched on and is connected to any Wifi or cellular network.

Map preview on Find My Device App

Prior to selecting the ‘remotely wipe it’ recourse and deleting all data from your phone;

There are some less harsh options that are provided in order for you to be able to ensure that the device is not indelibly missing or stolen. The Find My Device app could be utilized to impel the android smartphone to ring ceaselessly for five minutes on its loudest volume.

This will give you the chance to find it if peradventure it is under the couch, in another room, if it is in a spot that can’t be easily seen or if it even fell onto the floor of your car.

Ring Device Option

An additional option that can be sought is the ‘lock it’ option. This option gives the option of changing the display of the lock screen to display a message of your choosing.

This is efficacious if the android smartphone was abandoned in a place that is not easily accessible by you at the moment.

If the lock screen is changed to display a message like, “Please call me” or “If found return to__”, which when succeded by a phone number or an address and possibly backed by an offering of some kind of reward, might just prove to be successful.

Change Lock Screen Option

If all of the above is Unsuccessful, then remotely delete Data that is on the Android Device

Once all the options listed above have been considered and they do not provide the required result, it is then time to remotely delete all (sensitive) data stored on the android device, but please remember that all data that was kept on the MicroSD cards will not be deleted, which is why it was advocated earlier in this article not to store any important data on them.

Also, on the off chance that the device is recovered at a later time, your Google account password will most likely be needed to make it operational again. Additionally, keep in mind that after this option is used, you would not be able to remotely access the Find My Device app (in order to locate the device, as this also deletes the app) on the device again.

Making use of the ‘remotely wipe it’ option causes your device to undergo a full factory reset, as this completely deletes all settings, files, preferences, apps, music, and photos stored on the device and makes it look and behave as it were when it was just bought.

What’s more, as with the ‘lock it’ option, in the event that the android device is ineffectual in getting an internet signal (due to it being switched off or not connected to a Wifi or cellular network), once this option is chosen the android device will be remotely expunged as soon as it is switched on and connects to a network.

Some Precautions to take also if you decide to erase all data;

  • Go to your Google account and revoke all accesses the missing or stolen device had.
  • Ensure that the passwords to all online services that the missing or stolen device had access to are changed.

These precautions will ensure that professional hackers will not be able to find a backdoor to get to your data even after the device has been wiped. Although the probability of this happening is low, one cannot be too careful with these kinds of things.

Remotely Erase All Data Option

What If the Find My Device App on the Missing Device is unable to Connect to Any Network?

On the off chance that the Find My Device app cannot connect to any network, there are other options that are available for locating and tracking the missing or stolen android device and these are;

Phone Location History

Google maps keep track of your phone location history spontaneously as long as this feature is not switched off from your Google account.

This feature is valuable because it shows the location of where your android device was at the last time the feature spontaneously activated and as well as where it has been, in spite of the fact that it may not certainly tell you where it is at the present moment.

To be able to access this feature, go to the ‘Location History’ page that is on your google account and look over the timestamps that are there.

Other Apps That Can also Delete Data Remotely

As mentioned earlier in this article, some other apps can be considered to delete data remotely and these apps are;

  •  AirDroid or Lookout; these apps transfer crucial data away from the phone before wiping the device clean. The only drawback with them is that they are not entirely free. With Airdroid you need to pay in order to transfer more than 200 Mb of data and Lookout requires a monthly subscription.
  • Android Lost; this app works very well on Android devices that use an older operating system (OS). An advantage of the app is that it can be installed remotely, although the device has to be online for this via cellular network or Wifi.

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