Free ways to recover your lost/stolen device

If you're anything like us here at Neowin News HQ, you've lost a smartphone by accident or it has been stolen only never to be recovered. Had we known there were options to prevent this from happening, the whole sordid ordeal could have been prevented (and some money saved as well). Luckily, there are free options available to protect your smartphone or laptop.

Android

There are several options for Android devices. The first option is Where's my Droid?. Where's my Droid? can solve two problems. The first problem is if you misplaced your device. The app can call your phone and let you find it by hearing it ring. If you silenced the device, it will even turn the volume up and allow you to hear it ring. The second feature is useful as well. If your phone/device has GPS, the app will send you the location of the device by text.

There is another option for Android users, called Plan B. Why is it called Plan B? Plan B allows the user to install the app remotely and invisibly if the device is lost or stolen. The user can then track the device's location remotely via emails sent by the application. This is useful if you happened to forget to install a security application to begin with.

iOS

For those of you on the iPhone/iPad you have even fewer options. One app available is Find My iPhone. The app is free if you own an iPhone 4/4S, iPad, or fourth generation iPod Touch. You can track your phone using its GPS and even wipe the phone remotely if you have sensitive data on your phone or device.

Android/iOS

There is one app that stands out in this category, and it runs on both Android/iOS. The application is called Lookout Mobile Security. It offers anti-spyware, anti-malware, phone tracking and contact backups in the Free version. For thirty US dollars, you get remote wiping/locking, privacy advisor for apps, call history and photo backup if you upgrade to the Premium version.

Windows Phone

Since Windows Phone is relatively new to the game, it only has one option. According to Microsoft, Find My Phone can track your phone if you've misplaced it or it was stolen. It can ring your phone even if it is silent or on vibrate. You can lock or wipe the phone remotely. The app can use either text messaging or push notifications (faster) to send commands.

Laptop

Laptops are tough to protect because they are so mobile and so widespread. Prey offers an easy, free solution to prevent theft. As soon as your laptop turns on by a thief, Prey will broadcast its location, even using open hotspots to do so when necessary. The application can take screenshots or activate the webcam to take a picture of the thief. Prey allows you to hide your personal information, such as passwords, remotely.

No matter what device you have, protect it. Losing a device can be devastating to a wallet and to an identity. The free solutions mentioned above can stop it from happening to you.

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15 Comments

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If you leave such a valued device behind then you deserve to loose it when I go out it's always cap, shirt,barta bullets... wallet, watch, keys and phone/lappy before I leave anywhere and if it's sunny I'll add slip, slop, slap into the mix

also what about phones/lappy/pad that don't run android or iOS I've an LG GW300 what do suggest for that

Athlonite said,
If you leave such a valued device behind then you deserve to loose it when I go out it's always cap, shirt,barta bullets... wallet, watch, keys and phone/lappy before I leave anywhere and if it's sunny I'll add slip, slop, slap into the mix

Or "lose" it. Either way.

I don't get this article.
First of all, Prey runs in every listed system with the exception of Windows Mobile.
Secondly, Prey has a god damned website ( http://preyproject.com/ ). I'm not sure why the article writer linked Prey to a random website full of ads with a lame/incomplete description of the program.

The article has a very good objective, however I love how the author's bias shows. My favorite part was definitely "According to Microsoft..." as if the functionality is a rumor or otherwise unknown.

At least try the options in the various ecosystems before trying to give a (what should be) unbiased overview.

Chsoriano said,
The article has a very good objective, however I love how the author's bias shows. My favorite part was definitely "According to Microsoft..." as if the functionality is a rumor or otherwise unknown.
At least try the options in the various ecosystems before trying to give a (what should be) unbiased overview.

I was trying to be fair, actually I love Microsoft enough that I even have a Zune, which i love

jwoodfin09 said,
I was trying to be fair, actually I love Microsoft enough that I even have a Zune, which i love
So... you were not impartial when writing this piece.

tiagosilva29 said,
So... you were not impartial when writing this piece.

I was as impartial as I could be. i do use prey as a backup to LoJack on my laptop, and find both programs amazing. Everyone comes to journalism with some sort of bias. The same goes for judges and other professionals as well. We are people.

Shadrack said,
What do you do once you find the skum bag who stole your phone? Go beat them up?

If I ever get my hands on the $hitpile who broke my car window and stole my brand new M14X, I'll probably strangle him right there.

It's all very well this, but I honestly can't see the police helping to much, but I guess baseball bats wern't just created for playing baseball.

Does it matter how many apps there are for android/ios if people don't install them? While it's built into wp7 and doesn't need any extra complication to set up. This kind of protection should be built into the device.

flexkeyboard said,
Does it matter how many apps there are for android/ios if people don't install them? While it's built into wp7 and doesn't need any extra complication to set up. This kind of protection should be built into the device.

The added benefit of it being built into the device too means it might survive attempts by thieves to remove it (such as a hard reset). I haven't tested this on WP7 though, but if it does that then it has a major leg up against Android, at least.