/ Technology

Lost your phone? Shame you weren’t using tracking software

Lost smartphone in grass

With so much personal information on our phones, it’s more worrying than ever when they’re lost or stolen. Step forward gadget-tracking software, designed to locate devices – so is it the answer we’ve been waiting for?

Do you spend sleepless nights worrying about how you’d cope if you lost your mobile phone? After all, not only are the contact numbers of your family and friends (some of them long lost) stored on your phone, but a lot of personal information is too.

Increasingly, more of us are using our phones like mini computers and some of us are even using them like digital wallets.

How much data is on your phone?

According to a Which? Mobile survey, almost a quarter (24%) of members are storing their calendar/diary appointments on their phones. Some (5%) are using them to store their passwords and PINs, while smaller numbers (4%) are using them to store their date of birth.

That’s a veritable goldmine of data for criminals who are into identity theft. A number of software vendors have cottoned on to our fears and have launched gadget-tracking software allowing us to pinpoint the location of our device in the event that it is lost or stolen.

But like the anti-virus industry, there’s a plethora of packages out there – some paid-for, some free and even some already loaded on your device. But how do you know which is the most effective?

Our verdict on tracking software

Which? Computing put a number of different tracking software programs, such as FireFound, GadgetTrak and MobileMe (which comes free with iPhones), through their paces. Our verdict on whether you should you use tracking software? Quite simply, the answer is ‘yes’.

We found that free services – like MobileMe and Prey (free for non-Apple devices) – did a good job. The paid-for devices didn’t perform as well in our tests, but even these only cost a few pounds – a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Are you tempted to try mobile tracking software, or do you already use one that you’d recommend? Or have you tried other ways to track your phone? The website Immobilise, for example, registers gadgets free of charge, adding it the police’s national property database. This doesn’t locate lost devices, but it does make it easier for the police to trace stolen gadgets.

If you’ve lost or had your phone stolen in the last year what did you do to sort it out? Were you a victim of identity theft as a result? How quickly did your mobile service provider act at your request to bar calls and hide the data on your phone?

Inthesilence says:
31 August 2011

HTC is meant to have this through HTC Sense but I can’t get it to work!

John A says:
6 September 2011

MobileMe seems to be “suspended” for new users, as it is being incorporated in iCloud.

That’s right. It is still available to those who had subscribed before the service was withdrawn. The new iCloud service will be free, I believe.

Mikhail says:
7 September 2011

Both wrong! I guess it is easier to find a forum and complain than just give a try. me.com works with your apple ID.

OK Mikhail – so where do we get an app that allows us to protect our moble phone held data? (Thanks)