Stealing a phone.

You’d probably be nervous walking around with $1,000 in your pocket, but that’s what many of us do every day with smartphones. It’s a good idea to be prepared if someone decides your Android phone is ripe for stealing.

Being prepared for your phone to be stolen is the key. There’s not much you can do after the device is gone. Taking some time to be ready for an unfortunate situation can make it hurt a lot less. We’ll give you some tips.

RELATED: How to Track and Find an Android Phone

Set Up a Screen Lock

Setting up a fingerprint on Android.

First and foremost, you need to have some form of screen lock set up on your phone. Some methods are more secure than others, but you need to pick one to have a bare minimum level of security.

On Android, your best option is going to be the fingerprint scanner—if your phone has one. It’s not as secure as the iPhone’s Face ID, but it’s better than nothing. Fingerprint can only be used along with another less-secure method as an alternative. So even if you are using the fingerprint scanner, someone who steals your phone doesn’t have to.

Still, the important thing here is to have some sort of deterrent in use. Sometimes just the smallest barrier is enough to turn someone off and make it feel like too much of a hassle.

RELATED: Why Face ID Is Much More Secure Than Android's Face Unlock

Make Sure “Find My Device” Works

Select a device.

The best way to find a lost or stolen Android device is Google’s “Find My Device” feature. This is built into all Android devices that come with the Google Play Store. You don’t actually need to do anything to enable it, but you can double-check that it’s working.

All you need to do to check that Find My Device is working properly is head over to the website and make sure your device appears. You can also view your devices from the Android app (which is not required to be installed for tracking).

We have a detailed walkthrough on how to use Find My Device after your Android phone has been lost or stolen. This is going to be your best tool to use after the fact.

Back Up Important Things

Select "Back Up & Sync" at the top of the Settings.

One of the most important things you can do is back up anything you don’t want to lose. It’s always a good idea to operate as if important things will disappear someday, so always make backups.

Photos and videos are the things most people fear losing. Google Photos’ cloud backup feature is a great way to automatically backup your photos and videos. It’s a feature you can turn on and completely forget about.

For other types of files, there are a number of great cloud storage services you could use. Google Drive is a popular choice, but if you’re not keen on Google’s ecosystem, there are plenty of alternatives. The important thing is to pick a method and use it. Losing treasured photos, videos, or other things is a terrible feeling.

RELATED: How to Upload Files and Folders to Google Drive

Create a Second Line of Defense

Secure Folder highlighted on a Galaxy phone.

We already talked about using some sort of screen lock, but it’s also a good idea to have a secondary level of protection for your extra sensitive stuff. That way, even if someone does obtain access to your phone, they don’t have access to everything.

One of the best solutions for this is Samsung’s “Secure Folder” feature. It’s a password-protected space where you can put photos, videos, files, and other things inside. You can also put entire apps inside the Secure Folder.

If you don’t have a Samsung Galaxy phone, you have some other options. For photos and videos, Google Photos’ “Locked Folder” is easy to use (but it relies on the same security method as your lock screen). You could also hide apps entirely.

RELATED: How to Hide Images with Google Photos' Locked Folder

Record Your Device’s IMEI Number

IMEI displayed on Android.

Lastly, if your phone is stolen and you want to report it to the authorities, you may need the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. This is a unique number that identifies your physical device. It’s not tied to a carrier or SIM card.

On most Android devices, you can find the IMEI from Settings > About Phone. Simply record this number somewhere safe just in case you need it. This won’t necessarily help anyone find your device, but it doesn’t hurt to have it.

When it comes to losing or having things stolen, there’s always more you can do before it happens. Android phones are certainly no different. Take some time now to prepare for a disaster. You’ll be glad you did.

RELATED: How to Find Your Android Phone's IMEI Number

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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