How-To Geek

Lesson 4: Understanding Performance and Security


A personal identification number or PIN, works just as your PIN works with your ATM card only you can choose a PIN between four and 17 digits long.


Obviously, the longer the better but even a four-digit PIN is going to foil even the most determined snoops.


Passwords will also be familiar to you and will work much the same way it works on your computer. You can choose a password four to 17 characters long.


The longer the password the better, but we think inputting a password every time you want to use your phone will quickly become a pain.

Owner info

Here’s an idea, fill in your owner info so that if you do lose your phone, any honest person that finds it can then easily return it to you.



Encryption is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if you use encryption, then no one can access your phone’s contents without being able to unlock it. We don’t simply mean that someone needs to unlock your phone to access the data on it, but also using any methods to sidestep that lock to access it by other methods. You must have the passphrase to decrypt the data.


That said, encryption can add overhead to your device, which can in turn slow it down. This may not be such an issue with today’s better performing devices. Also, encryption is irreversible, once you do it you cannot undo it so if you do decide it’s dragging your phone down, you have to make sure all the stuff you want to save is backed up and then wipe your phone clean.

Finally, if you do encrypt your phone, and you forget the passcode, you are forever out of luck or until you remember how to unlock it. You can never get back into your device without that code, no tricks, or hack, or backdoors exist to help you out of this jam.

For the full run-down on how to encrypt your Android device and why you want to, check out our article here.

SIM card lock

Locking your SIM card doesn’t mean you can’t access your phone, but you won’t be able to use it until you key in a code to unlock it.


This does nothing to prevent someone from swapping in another SIM card and just using your phone that way. Still, it does deter someone from taking your phone and using it to rack up costly bills on your account.

Locating a Lost/Stolen Phone or Tablet

We’re sure you’ve seen apps and features to locate a lost phone. Android actually includes a feature that will allow you not only locate where your phone is but, it will also let you ring it loudly if you’ve misplaced it, lock it with a password, as well as wipe it remotely.

it’s not enabled by default. In order to enable it, tap “Device administrators,” and turn on “Android Device Administrator.”


You can then administer your phone remotely from the Android Device Manager.


How-To Geek has a complete tutorial on how to use this feature. We encourage you to check it out and explore further.

Do you really need virus protection?

The short answer: no, we don’t see the point.

Android does get viruses, but we think getting a virus on your device is actually far more difficult than anti-virus makers would have you believe. In the years of owning an Android device, and the many different applications we’ve installed from the Play Store, we still have yet to contract a virus. And anyone who tells you need virus protection is either trying to sell you AV software or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Still, here’s a few tips we can pass along to better guide your judgment:

  • Only install well-known apps from the Play Store.
  • Avoid seemingly nonsensical, one-dimensional apps.
  • Make sure you check for iffy permissions (see Lesson 2 for more on permissions).
  • Don’t sideload apps. Sideloading apps means you download and install them from a folder on the phone or tablet. If you don’t know how to do this, then you don’t need to worry.

Honestly, viruses aren’t what you need to worry about. You’re more liable to be at risk to apps that spy on you, but if you do your research and you pay attention to permissions then we feel that’s the best way to avoid most malware. When it comes down to it, old fashioned good sense will usually keep you out of trouble.


That does it for performance and security. While we don’t think that you’re going to run into a lot of performance with the majority of devices sold today, there’s still things you can do to keep your device’s pep for years to come. Similarly, modern Android is packed with tons of security features to ensure your privacy and data is protected, provided you know about and use them.

Tomorrow, in our final lesson we’ll cover the whole range of data management including managing storage space and keeping your data backed up.

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Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and died-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.

  • Published 04/24/14

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