Losing your smartphone these days is similar to losing your handbag or wallet. Not only does it contain all your contacts and precious photos, it could mean someone else gets their hands on your personal and/or sensitive data. Recent research by security firm Sophos revealed more than one in five (22 percent) of Brits have lost a mobile phone at some point.

While there's no way to guarantee you don't lose or have your smartphone stolen, as let's face it accidents happen to us all, there are some measures you can put in place in advance, to ensure that should the worst happen you'll be able to work fast to remove your data and possibly even locate your handset.

As well as obvious steps such as password protecting your device and the content stored on it, there's a number of free apps available in the Android Market that will help you locate the device using GPS if it is stolen. One of these is Android Lost. Here's how to install and then locate your handset using the app.

Step one
Start by downloading Android Lost from the Android Market. Once the software has been installed, select Android Lost from the applications list.

Step two
You'll be required to accept device administrator rights that ensure all data can be wiped from the phone should it be lost. Press Activate.

Step three
If your handset is already registered with Google, via your Google account, then you'll be able to exit the app and head straight to the Android lost website. If not, you'll need to register your handset first. Press Exit.


Step four
On your PC open the Android Lost website. On the right-hand side of the window, press the Sign-in link. Then select the Google account that is used on the phone to sign-in with. You'll be informed that your phone is now connected to your Google account. From the home page, select the Control tab.

Step five
Now press the Location icon (depicted by a globe). You'll be notified that by pressing the Send location button, your handset will send its location to your email account. It's worth noting that if both GPS and network are disabled the last known location will be sent instead. You can also choose to automatically switch the GPS on, if it is disabled. Press Send location.

Step six
You'll receive an email to your Google account when the phone's location has been identified.