Losing a smartphone is a disaster for anyone – all those contacts and photos potentially gone forever. It’s always best to back up precious files using a back-up storage service such as BT Cloud.

But should the worst occur, there is a free way to track your phone down using Android’s built-in remote tracking tools.

[Read more: Keep your smartphone safe: How to protect your Android smartphone from viruses]

 

1.Location services need to be on

In order for tracking to work, you need the GPS switched on. To do this, you should swipe down from the top of your screen and ensure the Location icon is activated.

 

2.Switching Android Device Manager on

Now you need to find the Google Settings app in your list of apps. It might be in a folder titled Google.

 

Next, tap the heading titled Security. Here, you need to make sure Remotely locate this device and Allow remote lock and erase are switched on.

 

3.Now you’re ready to track your smartphone

You can test the feature out on your PC immediately at the Android Device Manager. You will have to sign in with the Google account assigned to your smartphone.

Once you’re in, you’ll be presented with a map, alongside a box with your phone’s name and image. It should start to track your device straight away but if it doesn’t, click on the small locator icon at the right of the white box and ‘Contacting your device…’ should appear. If the process was successful, the map will point out where your smartphone is and the box will provide you with other information such as the last time it was located and the name of the location.

[Read more: Get started with your smartphone on BT Mobile]

 

4.Ring, lock and erase data on your phone

Although you can pinpoint your phone’s location, you may still struggle to physically find it. The Ring feature will dial through to the device to alert someone who has found it. You can do this by clicking on Ring.

 

A warning message will pop up telling you that the phone will ring at full volume for 5 minutes. Press the blue Ring button if you want to go ahead.

To prevent anyone from snooping on your phone, you can put a password on by clicking Lock

 

A box will appear, asking you to create a password. Fill the two boxes in with a password and note it down. You can also add a recovery message and a phone number in the third and fourth boxes, informing anyone who finds your phone how to get in contact with you to hand it back.

If you have no luck locating your phone, you may want to remotely wipe it. This erases everything on your phone, including contacts, photos and text messages, so should only be carried out as a last resort. To do this, click Erase.

 

Ensure that you fully understand the information in the box, then click on the red button marked Erase.

[Read more: Never lose your phone again]