How to retrieve your contacts from your phone if it’s lost or stolen

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How to restore contacts from a stolen or broken cell phone
Image Credit: Dreamstime
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Our cell phones have become pretty much essential to our daily lives at this point. It is where we store most of our information, especially if we’re traveling. If you happen to be abroad and someone steals your phone or it goes missing, you could be in a heap of trouble — unless you know how to retrieve your contacts and other info from the device.

If you’ve been periodically backing up your phone, there are quite a few websites and third-party services that can recover your phone contacts — iPhone Backup ExtractorSyncios Data Recovery and iMyFone will all do the trick — but it’s going to cost you. Fortunately, if you are faced with this emergency, there are free ways to retrieve your information as well.

If you’ve lost your phone, we’re going to show you how to get your contacts back on the two largest mobile platforms, Android and Apple. Let’s start with Android:

How to retrieve your phone contacts from an Android phone

Back up your contacts: Google phones allow you to easily back up the contacts you have stored on your device or SIM card. In all cases, you can restore these contacts on a new phone.

The key to this is that your contacts must be saved to your Google Account. If that’s the case, once you sign into a new device your contacts will sync automatically. Of course, you can always turn auto-sync off or choose which apps you want to sync. Usually apps like Outlook or your Address Book may already be synced with your contacts if you have enabled those settings.

How to recover your phone contacts from an iPhone

Restore your contacts via iCloud: Go to iCloud.com and click on Restore Contacts under Advanced settings. You’ll be prompted to select an archive of contacts to restore. Once you select it, press Restore and it will be done.

You can also restore your contacts with Apple’s Find My iPhone feature, which we’ll discuss next.

What to do before your phone goes missing

Because we’d like to avoid the situation of trying to get data from a stolen or destroyed phone, it’s best to take preventative steps. But if bad things happen, the key to being able to access your personal information from a wayward smartphone is to act quickly.
Whether you have an iPhone or Android,  both platforms have location-tracking technology. Apple’s Find My iPhone and Google’s Find My Phone make sure you can find the physical whereabouts of your phone in the event the worst happens. And the good part? You can erase your phone’s data remotely.

Phone stolen? Here’s how to remotely erase your data

If you have the Find My iPhone feature enabled on your phone, go to a Mac or PC and log onto iCloud.com. There you’ll be able to remove your credit card info linked to Apple Pay as well as change your Apple ID password. You can also prevent apps from showing your name, as well as restore your contacts.
Once you do that, select your device and click on the Erase iPhone button — just note that you will no longer be able to use the Find My iPhone feature.
how to erase your iPhone data
Photo credit: apple.com
If you have Family Sharing set up, Apple allows you to also erase your family members’ devices. See the details at the Apple Support.
For an Android device, you can remotely erase your data by going to a PC and clicking on Android Device Manager or Find My iPhone, depending on the particular brand of your mobile.
Google Find My Device
Photo credit: Support.google.com
Sign into your Google Account and click the lost device at the top of the screen. There you’ll have the option to Enable lock & erase. Once you erase, it will permanently delete all the data on your phone. And, like with an iPhone, Find My Device will no longer work.
Google says even though all your files will be wiped from your phone, the erase feature might not delete SD cards. If by chance you do find your device after erasing it, you can restore much of it by logging into your Google Account.
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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer. You can reach Craig at [email protected]
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