How To: How Dropbox Could Help You Find Your Lost or Stolen Smartphone

How Dropbox Could Help You Find Your Lost or Stolen Smartphone

I had my wallet stolen a few months ago, and I knew I would never see it again. My biggest gripe was not the credit cards in there, since they're easily cancelled, but the gift cards. I had some pretty good gift cards in there, and there's no way to get those back.

Your wallet is probably the one of the most frustrating things you can ever lose, but one item that might top it is your cell phone.

My phone not only costs more than my wallet, but has just as much information—if not more—about me on it. Banking apps, contacts, my home address, Facebook login, etc. And then, of course, there's my Yahoo! Fantasy Basketball app (I'm currently in first place, suckers).

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Now, unlike your wallet, there are many ways to safeguard your expensive iPhone or Android device, if it ever comes up missing or stolen, even if it's on silent. There are also several ways to make your iPhone really difficult to unlock so that even if someone does grab it, it won't do them much good.

But here is one method I'm sure you haven't thought of.

How to Use Dropbox to Find Your Stolen Phone

Redditor cwumed explains that if Dropbox is installed and set up correctly, any picture the thief takes will automatically be uploaded to your Dropbox account for your viewing pleasure. This way, you can get photo evidence of the thief and perhaps even decipher the location.

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Of course, someone who has stolen your phone will most likely delete everything you have installed. But, if you're using an Android device, you can root your device and install a hidden .zip version of Dropbox deep down in the device, which would go unnoticed by most common thieves.

You can probably also get away with doing this on an un-rooted device by unlocking the bootloader and flashing Dropbox to the system level, giving it root access.

But, if a thief actually knew what he/she was doing, they could simply boot to recovery mode, format /system, and flash a new ROM onto the device. Or, they can hack into your Dropbox account to uninstall it via the website.

Is this Dropbox hack the most efficient anti-theft method? Of course not. Especially if you have an iPhone (like me). But, if combined with a few of the other apps and methods available, this can only increase your chances of recovering of your phone.

If it's your laptop at risk, you can do some amateur sleuthing and try Backblaze, Google Street View, and Craigslist to catch the thieves, like Make did.

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Many device brands have their own online tracking software. Just remember to register your device and set up the correct features. Just be aware that this requires net access, but its great what you can do once everything is set up. With samsung for instance it will show you where your device is located, and you can remotely set an alarm to activate when you discover it has been stolen, even have a message to show up and set the alarm volume.

All these features to assist when your unlucky enough to lose your phone are great, but as experienced with my daughter last week in losing her iPhone on the train, within half hour it had been switched off so find my iPhone couldn't track but we sent the erase request and 'please call me' message, the police felt it was theft by finding but couldn't confirm whether another sim had been attempted. So all in all we can protect our data to an extent, what we really need is something to work in the background even if the phones been switched off perhaps with a secondary with battery for example, just think we would have a greater chance of recovery, police lives would be easier, and insurance claims would reduce drastically. Maybe I need take this idea to Dragons den but I get the feeling those named above plus phone manufacturers wouldn't touch this idea as it would affect sales big time?

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