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Five apps to wipe data from your Android phone

If your phone gets lost or stolen -- or if you decide to return or recycle it -- you need to wipe it clean of your private data.

Losing your phone is almost akin to losing your wallet. You have data on that device, and should anyone get to it, they could wreak havoc on your life. Yes, there are ways to ensure the security of that device. But there might come a time when you have to give up the ghost and wipe that phone. Or you might be recycling that phone or handing it over to another user -- in which case, you're not going to want to hand over your private information. No matter the reason, you need to know that data is safe. There are, of course, apps for that. I want to show you five of them.

Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Built-in Android reset

This built-in functionality is probably the easiest to use, as it doesn't require any installation of any kind. You simply get to the restore from the Settings menu (where will depend upon the handset and carrier you use). Obviously, you have to have the phone handy in this case; otherwise, you can't wipe the data on the phone. In some instances, there is an option to erase data on the SD card (Figure A). If you know you are going to hand over the phone, you will certainly want to take that action.

Figure A

Factory reset

2: Mobile Security

The Mobile Security app (Figure B) is for T Mobile Handset Protection customers and allows you to remotely sound an alarm on your lost phone, locate a lost phone on a map, lock a lost or misplaced phone, and wipe data from a lost or misplaced phone. This can all be done through a simple Web interface.

Figure B

Mobile Security

3: Autowipe

Autowipe (Figure C) is a handy application that lets you set up an auto wiping of the phone based on certain criteria. You can trigger an autowipe based on a specified number of password failures, an SMS test, or Subscriber ID change. There are two versions of this: Free and No ads. The no ad version is .99 cents.

Figure C

Autowipe

4: Android Lost

Android Lost (Figure D) offers a number of features most other apps don't offer. It lets you read your SMS inbox and sent, wipe your phone, lock your phone, erase the SD card, locate your phone by GPS or network, start an alarm with a flashing screen, send SMS from a Web page, forward calls, do a remote install, and much more.

Figure D

Android Lost

5: Lookout Security & Antivirus

The wipe feature is available only for the Premium version of Lookout Security & Antivirus. This version adds the following features to the standard version: safe browsing, remote lock and wipe, privacy advisor, and advanced backup. Even with the free version of the app (Figure E), you can locate your lost phone or sound an alarm remotely.

Figure E

Lookout Security & Antivirus

Be ready

We're keeping more data on our mobiles now than ever before. And sometimes, that data is sensitive enough that you need the tools to wipe it clean if the device gets lost. With these five tools, you can rest assured your phone is safe if it falls into the wrong hands.

Other apps?

Have you used the apps on this list -- and did you like them? What other tools have you found effective for wiping an Android phone?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
Jassop
Jassop

I have a cheap Android and I have looked for fancy security applications that offer remote wipe and they are either expensive or require a techie to “config”. I have just installed the Emoze application which is primarily a consolidated email product, but has remote wipe and all the advanced security features within the application. You dont not even have to register for a “this” and “that” account. You just use any of your email addresses or sms to control the device remotely.

LarsDennert
LarsDennert

Exchange server support is built into most Android phones. Remote wipe is only a button push away. It also wipes automatically if the cell number changes. Not sure what happens on world phones when you swap sims. Where's My Droid Pro also now includes wipe and lock.

l_creech
l_creech

I've been using Vipre Mobile (http://www.vipremobile.com) from GFI, the same people that sell Vipre for the desktop and server world. Has several nice features built in: Backup (apps, contacts, data, pictures, videos, etc...) Find misplaced phone (sends loud alarm sound) Find lost phone (uses GPS) Secure Remote Wipe Monitoring (useful if you want to see what your kids are doing, or for compliance purposes in the business world today)

Unix4me
Unix4me

I saw an item on TechRepublic about Avast; I've been experimenting with that. Does anyone here have any experience with Avast ??

joetron2030
joetron2030

I've got the free version of Lookout installed and SeekDroid to pickup on the features that Lookout only offers via the paid version of the app. https://seekdroid.com/v2/

sico_real
sico_real

Those seem to be very nice apps but the feauture that I would like to have is locate and execute some remote actions no matter what SIM card is inserted.An app that after I somewhere state that my phone was stolen would allways boot the phone with the GPS and packet data on and that would periodically turn both signals on and update its location,take photo of the user when the screen Is on and some other stuffs. Is there any app that may already be doing this? There are some other features that I would like to have.I don't feel confortable on losing my Galaxy S2 and not being able to find it.Its expensive in Portugal!

catalin.stratulat
catalin.stratulat

Cerberus is a very effective app that I've been using with success. It does about every item listed for any application above, and more.