Lost your laptop? Searching for your smartphone? It doesn’t have to happen if you take a few precautionary steps.
With another busy year upon us, many families are investing in new or upgraded technology.
Some of your fancy new gadgets are probably immune from forgetfulness, but items like smartphones, tablets and laptops can go missing all too easily.
Left at the bus stop… drove off with it on the roof… dropped it while shopping… it’s in the house, I just don’t know where… there are so many ways to misplace technology.
Replacing these items can be very expensive, and finding them can be time consuming and frustrating.
Different gadgets and software are available to reduce the odds of you and your family losing your tech for good.
These systems can help you (and the police if necessary) track things down if they can’t be found with a thorough tidy up or a retracing of steps.
For Apple products like iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch, you can download the Find My iPhone app and use another Apple device to locate your missing property on a map.
Once you have set it up properly, this app also lets you protect your private data, play a sound at full volume and remotely lock your machine so that nobody else can access the information stored on it.
Find My Mac works similarly for your portable Mac, meaning if you leave it somewhere you can refresh your memory with the help of another iOS device.
You could also use the ‘Find My Friends’ app, which comes in handy by showing you on a map where the device of your forgetful child or family member is.
To prevent people being tracked without knowing it, you have to grant permission before someone can keep an eye on you using this tool.
Android has a similar app called Family Locator that is very helpful for figuring out the hiding place of a wayward phone or tablet.
This lets you create groups and view in real time the exact location of the devices owned by the people you are connected to.
Another option for Android users is Where’s My Droid. Once installed, this app allows you to remotely discover the location of your phone and prevent anyone else from unlocking it until you can get your hands on it again.
You can also send a ‘GPS Flare’, which will notify you of the phone’s location just before the battery goes flat.
If you choose to upgrade from the free version of Where’s My Droid, it will let you remotely wipe your personal information, take pictures with the device’s camera and prevent the app from being uninstalled.
To protect your laptop, you can try installing software such as Prey. Trackable from any web browser, this software works on almost all brands of devices.
It can provide the exact location of your property and will also share information about which wi-fi networks it has connected to.
Prey will even fire off a “super loud alarm” to lead you to the pile of clothes your machine is tucked underneath.
If you’re concerned your laptop has been stolen, Prey allows you to wipe all the information off it with the press of a button and retrieve the files you have just destroyed via email.
The software is free at its basic level and then has a range of payment options that allows you to track more than one piece of hardware.
Working in conjunction with an app, the portable Tile device is smaller and thinner than a credit card.
It helps you find keys and wallets as well as your phone and anything else you might want to attach one to.
Once you have everything up and running, if you can’t seem to put your hand on your phone you can simply double-click your Tile and your phone will ring.
Stick your Tile to your laptop and if you do happen to lose it, the app will automatically remember the last time and place you last had your item so you know where to start looking.
There is also a nifty ‘Notify When Found’ function that uses the community to track missing items.
If someone else’s Tile device gets a reading on your property, you will receive details on where it is, while your identity is kept private.
An alternative is the coin-sized TrackR, which comes with adhesive allowing you to stick it to laptops, e-readers or anything else that regularly goes missing.
You can have a phone number engraved on your TrackR in case you lose track of your items via the accompanying iOS or Android app.
Similar to Tile, Trackr will make your phone ring if you press it.
You can also set it up to sound an alert if your phone travels a certain distance away from it - very convenient for the forgetful!
It never hurts to pop a sticker on your tech with your phone number or email address on it, to help good samaritans get in touch with you.
If you suspect somebody has stolen your device, it is recommended to contact the police rather than attempting to recover it yourself.
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