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 resetThis 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.
2: Mobile SecurityThe 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.
3: AutowipeAutowipe (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.
4: Android LostAndroid 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.
5: Lookout Security & AntivirusThe 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.
Lookout Security & Antivirus
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.
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?
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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.