the-missing-iphone
The Missing iPhone

Losing your expensive gadget can be a traumatic experience. The loss of valuable data can be significantly damaging as well. The data you keep on your iPhone, iPad of Mac is either important or private, or both. In the event your Apple device gets stolen or is lost, you can take certain steps to keep this data from falling into the wrong hands.

All iPhones, iPads and Macs come with the iCloud “Find My” service. With iCloud, you can remotely track your device, erase sensitive data from its memory, and even disable the device entirely to prevent anyone else from using it.

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Setting up the Tracking Feature on Your Device

It’s necessary that you have an iCloud account with the tracking feature enabled for the remote locate and wipe to work.

To enable the “Find My” service on an iPhone or an iPad, go to the “Settings” on your device and select the “iCloud” option.

Here, you’ll find a “Find My iPad” or the “Find My iPhone” option, depending on the device you’re using. Slide the button to the right to turn the tracking feature on.

If you have an iMac or a Macbook, go to “System Preferences” in the menu and click on the “iCloud” option. Here, tick the “Find My Mac” box to turn the tracking feature on.

It’s recommended that you set up a strong password for you iCloud account to prevent hackers from disabling this feature.

Find-My-iPhone-Service
Tracking your device using Apple’s “Find My” Service.

Another way to set up the tracking feature is to download the Find My iPhone app from the iTunes store. Despite its name, the Find My iPhone app works for all Apple devices- including iPads and Macs. You need to own two or more Apple devices to use this app. If ever one of your devices is stolen or lost, you can use the other device to track it.

This app also comes in handy if you misplace your Apple device at home or work. You can use the “Play Sound” feature to quickly locate your misplaced device.

You can download the Find My iPhone app here.

Remotely Tracking and Erasing Your Apple Device

You can use either the iCloud website or the Find My iPhone app to track and erase your device. To track your device, go to the iCloud website and sign in with your user name and password.

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iCloud-Sign-In-Page

Once you’re signed in, select the “Find My iPhone” feature. Here, you’ll find all your Apple devices displayed on the map, based on their current location.

Select the device you want to track to see where it is currently. You have access to the same features through the Find My iPhone app as well.

Of course, the tracking feature may not always work. If your device is stolen, for example, the thief may turn off data services or switch your device off. In this case, you should consider remotely wiping your device.

Remotely wiping your device will cause you to lose all your important data. If you regularly back up your device through iCloud, however, you can recover it later.

To remotely wipe a device, go to the “Find My iPhone” section and click on the “All Devices” option. Here, choose the device you want to wipe. Click on the “Erase [device]” option. You will be asked to enter your Apple ID and password.

If you are erasing an iOS 7 device, you will be asked to enter a message and a phone number as well. This entered message will be displayed to you on the screen after it has been wiped.

To wipe a Mac, you will have to enter the passcode you use to lock it and enter a message, which will be displayed to you later when the device is successfully wiped.

How the Device Wiping Process Works

You will have to confirm device wipe by opening the confirmation email sent on your Apple email ID. If your device is online, the process begins immediately. If your device is offline or if it doesn’t have cellular access (a common scenario), it will be wiped the next time it connects to the internet.

iOS 7 provides an added security feature called the Activation Lock. After remotely wiping the data on the device, it requires your Apple ID and password to be usable again. The phone is rendered useless until the correct ID and password are supplied.

An important note to remember here is that you won’t be able to use Find My iPhone app to track your device once you have erased it. Also, if you remove the device from your account after erasing it, the activation lock is turned off and another person can activate and use your device.

activation-lock-for-lost-iphone
Activation Lock Enabled for a Lost Device

 

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Devices That Don’t Have “Find My iPhone” Option Enabled

If you haven’t enabled the “Find My iPhone” feature on your lost or stolen device, you can still take certain steps to protect your data. First, change all the passwords to all the accounts stored on your device, which could be your email address, social media accounts, bank accounts and other service accounts.After that, contact law enforcement with the serial number of your device (found on the box or receipt). Finally, call your carrier to turn off all services to your device.

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With smartphones becoming an integral part of our lives, a lost iPhone can be gut-wrenching. The anxiety and despair caused from losing your phone is so significant, it has found it’s way into the dictionary. Nomophobia – the fear of losing one’s mobile device! But, with a bit of foresight and some luck you can be better prepared if your beloved device is nicked.

Have you ever lost a mobile phone? What steps did you take to recover it? Share your experience with us in the comments below.