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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.