Safety: How to wipe your phone or computer if it is lost or stolen

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Selling old appliances can put money in your pocket, but remember that your devices store sensitive data that you don’t want strangers to access.

Your smart speaker, for example, knows your location and can even store your voice recordings locally. Click here to clear and unregister your Amazon Echo before selling.

And now think what your phone knows. No wonder you feel that awful feeling when you can’t find it. Here’s how to find a lost phone, even if the battery is low.

But what if your phone, tablet or laptop is lost forever? Do not let everything that is stored there fall into the wrong hands. Here’s how to erase all personal information from anywhere.

Remember that you need to set this up in advance

Imagine you are traveling and your phone or computer is nowhere to be found. If your access code is easy to guess – or worse, you’ve never set it up – you may be passing on everything from logging in to bank accounts to social media accounts, who knows who.

The ability to remotely erase your devices is incredibly useful. But you need to set up the opportunity in advance. If you wait until you need this feature, it’s too late. Take some time to set it up by following these steps.

Wipe your Android

If you lose your Android phone, you may find, lock or delete it remotely. You need to enable Find My Device before using these features. Here’s how.

  • Open up Settings application.
  • Click Security > Find my device. If you don’t see Security, click Security and location or Google> Security.
  • Make sure Find My Device is included on.

Follow these steps to remotely erase your phone

  • Go to android.com/find and sign in to your Google Account. If you have more than one phone, press the button lost phone at the top of the screen. If your lost phone has multiple user profiles, sign in with your Google Account in the main profile.
  • The lost phone will receive a notification and you will see its approximate location on the map. If you can’t find your phone, you’ll see its last known location.
  • Choose Turn on the lock and erase if necessary.
  • Choose Erase the device in delete all data on the device forever. Note: After following this step, Find My Device will not work on this phone.
Erase your personal information from your smartphone before selling or otherwise disposing of it.

Erase your personal information from your smartphone before selling or otherwise disposing of it.
(iStock)

Delete data from your iPhone, Mac or iPad

Apple’s Find My app allows you to remotely erase from an iPhone, iPad or Mac remotely. As with Android, make sure you enable Find My in advance.

Turn on Find My for iPhone and iPad:

  • Open up Settings application. Click on your own namethen press Find mine.
  • Click Find mine [device]then turn on Find mine [device].
  • To see the device, even if it is offline, turn it on Find my network.
  • To have the location of your device sent to Apple when the battery is low, turn it on Submit last location.

To enable Find My for your Mac:

  • Press the button Apple menu > System settings > Security and privacy. Press the button Privacy way. If the lock in the lower left corner is locked, click on it and enter the password.
  • Choose Location servicesthen select Turn on location services check box. Make sure the check box is next to it Find mine chosen.
  • Click Donethen return to the main system settings window.
  • Click Apple ID > iCloud. Check the box next to Find my Mac.
  • To make sure you can find your Mac if it’s ever lost or stolen, click Options. Check it out Find My Mac is enabled and Find My Network is on.
  • Click Done.
In this photo illustration, the Apple iPad displays the home screen.  (Photo by Peter McDiarmid / Getty Images)

In this photo illustration, the Apple iPad displays the home screen. (Photo by Peter McDiarmid / Getty Images)
(2014 Getty Images)

Now, let’s say your iPhone, iPad or Mac is gone. Here’s how to remotely erase all data stored on it.

  • Go to icloud.com and log in to your account.
  • Click Find my iPhonethen All devices. (Note: If you don’t see All Devices, you’ve already selected a device. Click the current device name in the center of the toolbar to access the list of devices, and then select a new device.)
  • Select the device you want to erase and press Erase [device].
  • Do one of the following, depending on what you want to delete: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch: enter your Apple ID password. If you don’t use a trusted browser, answer secret questions or enter a verification code sent to your other devices. Mac: Enter the Apple ID password. If you don’t use a trusted browser, answer secret questions or enter a verification code sent to your other devices. Enter the password to lock the Mac. You will need to use a password to unlock it.
  • iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch: enter your Apple ID password. If you don’t use a trusted browser, answer secret questions or enter a verification code sent to your other devices.
  • Mac: Enter the Apple ID password. If you don’t use a trusted browser, answer secret questions or enter a verification code sent to your other devices. Enter the password to lock the Mac. You will need to use a password to unlock it.
  • If the device is lost and you are asked to enter a phone number or message, indicate that the device is lost, or how to contact you if you wish. The number and message will appear on the device lock screen.
  • If your device is online, remote erasure will start after following the on-screen instructions. If your device is offline, remote erasure will start the next time it is online.

MORE TECHNICAL SMART: Every iPhone and Android user should know these ingenious commands

Always wipe your personal data from laptops and other electronic devices before disposing of them.

Always wipe your personal data from laptops and other electronic devices before disposing of them.
(iStock)

Windows

You can also remotely erase your Windows laptop. Make sure you have the Find my device feature enabled before this happens:

  • Log in to your Microsoft account.
  • In Windows 10, go to Settings > Update and security > Find my device and make sure the feature is there on.
  • In Windows 11, go to Settings > Privacy and security > Find my device and make sure the feature is there on.

Next, you need to register your computer with Microsoft Intune, a cloud service that allows you to remotely manage devices and applications. Install the app from Microsoft Store or Log in to the company’s portal website.

Now that your laptop is gone, you can remotely erase it.

  • Go to portal.azure.com/#home and enter.
  • Choose All services and filter Intune.
  • Choose Microsoft Intune and select Devices.
  • Select the device you want to delete remotely.
  • Click Wipe and then Yes.
  • The next time you turn on the laptop, all your data will be deleted within 15 minutes.

Remove yourself from the internet

While you are failing, take another smart step to privacy. Here is my latest guide to removing yourself from the internet. Completely removing yourself from the internet is almost impossible, but you can destroy quite a bit if you know where to start.

PODCAST SELECT: Traffic, YouTube shortcuts, golden advice in particular – Komando.com

Want to erase yourself from the internet? Here’s how. I will also tell you how to predict the traffic situation for the months ahead. You’ll learn about some of the YouTube keyboard shortcuts you’ll always use, and about the changes to Netflix that may happen later this year. In addition, part of the story perished as a result of the ransomware attack. Here’s what you need to know.

Check out my “Kim Komando Explains” podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or on your favorite podcast player.

Listen to podcasts here or where you get podcasts. Just find my last name “Team”.

What questions about the digital lifestyle do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and click or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen or watch The Kim Commando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Either click or click here to get Kim’s free podcasts.

Copyright 2022, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. By clicking on the purchase links, you are supporting my research. As an Amazon employee, I get a small commission from qualified purchases. I only recommend products that I believe in.

Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Commando Show, the largest weekend talk radio show in the country. Kim takes calls and gives advice on the modern digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to hacking online privacy and data. To get her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

Safety: How to wipe your phone or computer if it is lost or stolen

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