Are you ready for your summer vacation? And is your mobile phone?

Imagine my surprise and panic when I was on spring vacation in Sayulita, Mexico and temporarily misplaced my iPhone.  Not speaking Spanish, I tried to mime phone motions to the employees at the stores I had visited earlier, while I frantically retraced my steps to see where I may have laid down my phone. I looked high and low from the rental apartment, to the bakery, to the smoothie shop, but to no avail.

Disheartened, I instantly thought (and stressed) about all the information stored on my phone: from stored credit cards, to my so called “secret” and cryptic coding of passwords, my auto-saved banking and personal information, and most importantly, my precious photos – including all the photos I had taken on this current vacation. I was panicked to find the device and reunite with my most recent memories made, but I was also concerned for my privacy: should I wipe the phone’s contents remotely?

I eagerly made my way back to the apartment to weigh my options, and low and behold, there was my phone on the kitchen counter. Phew! The experience reinforced the act that as a society, we treat our devices like an extended appendage; they really have been become integral to our daily lives.

Even though I had retrieved my trusty device, I was reminded of the potential risks should my device have fallen into the hands of someone with poor intentions. So, I did some research to see what I could do differently to protect my privacy and state of mind should my phone go missing again. Here are my learnings and recommendations for you:

Always use password protection. Ensure you have a password protected device; set strong passwords and don’t use the same password for all of your accounts.
Know how to use “find my device”. Available on iPhone, Samsung, and Blackberry, this app is incredibly helpful should you run into a panic situation of “temporarily misplacing” your phone by allowing you to track its location.
Back up your device. It is advisable that prior to vacation departure you back up your device and save any photos, contacts and other information elsewhere.


While iPhone and Android have the convenience of built in tools, you can also back up your devices on iTunes.  You have the capability to back up your device immediately or restore your previous back up (again, this can be very helpful in the instance of a lost phone). There are a few options when backing up your device:

Option #1: backup your iPhone using iTunes

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes
  2. Select your iPhone in iTunes
  3. Transfer your purchases. You can transfer any purchased content from your iPhone to your iTunes library. Do this before creating your backup.
  4. Click the “Back Up Now” button in the Summary screen
  5. Wait for your iPhone to back up

Option #2: backup your iPhone using iCloud

  1. Plug into a power source and connect your iPhone to Wi-fi
  2. Open the Settings app on your iPhone and select “iCloud”
  3. Tap the “Backup” option in the iCloud settings
  4. Toggle “iCloud Backup” on
  5. Tap “Back Up Now” and wait for your backup to complete
  6. View the contents of your backup

Option #3: back up your Android

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android
  2. Select “Backup & reset”
  3. Ensure “Back up my data” is enabled in the “Google Backup” section
  4. Use the device manufacturer’s backup service
  5. Use Google Photos to back-up your photos
  6. Connect your device to a computer to create a backup on it
  7. Use a third-party backup app:  Some popular backup apps include Helium, Ultimate Backup, Titanium Backup, and Easy Backup & Restore

Please reference for further details on the above steps.

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