Man, I had a hell of a streak.

All these years – about 7,967 since I started using and writing about Android – and somehow, rather miraculously, I had never outright broken a phone.

Impressive, I know. But don’t let the fear overwhelm you just yet, my drop-dreaded friend: my series of flawless protections for Android phones has officially come to a screeching halt.

Now I don’t technically drop my phone, watch out. And technically, I didn’t break it myself either. But he was definitely broken. And it happened on my watch.

While the experience wasn’t one I would recommend to anyone, it was a powerful reminder that even the most cautious and Android-obsessed animals among us are bound to slip up and end up in an unfortunate situation sooner or later. like this one. (For some Android phone owners — hi, honey! — these kinds of butter-fingered mishaps seem to happen with almost shocking frequency.)

And more than anything, it forced me to think about some smart steps we should everything keep in mind to keep our information safe whenever our precious Android companions crash and fall.

The story of my broken Android phone

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that these steps are mainly relevant in case your phone won’t turn on or can’t be used normally – but is still technically running.

This is exactly what happened to me. Long story short, a 45 pound dumbbell fell off the (allegedly) flat bench I rested it on during a workout and rolled over. right on my poor Pixel 6. Seriously, what are the odds? !

Surprisingly, the phone did not break. In fact, you had to look very closely to notice any outward signs of damage. But, as I quickly discovered, the screen no longer turned on – at all. And as well as allowing my adorable stream of obscure 80s ballads to continue to entertain my ears, it meant the phone was pretty much useless.

Luckily, I still had insurance active from my initial Google Store purchase and was able to get a replacement device within days. But that also meant I had to send the old broken phone back as part of the process.

And that, in turn, meant that all of my personal and work information could have ended up in someone else’s hands – since I had no way to access the phone and perform a factory reset. standard factory.

So here’s what I did – and what I would strongly suggest you do yourself, if/when you find yourself in a similar situation. It’s a three-step process that will protect your data and your sanity when it’s impossible to interact with your phone:

Step 1: Force a factory reset

Little known fact: Even when you can’t swipe and tap through your phone’s onscreen menus, you box always reset the thing and delete all your accounts and data. It’s just up to you to realize it’s possible and then remember how to do it.

It’s pretty easy, though: just type find my phone in the Chrome address bar on any computer where you’re signed in to the same Google account that’s signed in to your phone. This will display the official Google Find My Device tool.

From there, it only takes a few more clicks to select the damaged device, locate it, and then use the “Recover” option to permanently erase every last piece of information from the thing and reset it remotely.

Now if your phone was totally dead, that wouldn’t work, of course. But as long as it’s still powered on and running – even if you can’t access it – it’s a great way to get all your information out of it. before put it in someone else’s dirty hands.

Step 2: Confirm signing out of your Google account

Even after resetting your phone, it’s worth taking a few extra seconds to get to the “Your Devices” section of the Google Account website. This is where you can make sure the phone doesn’t have a lingering connection with any Google account that you had logged in.

Just look for the name of the phone on this page, and if you see it, click on it, then click on the “Sign Out” option on the screen that appears next.

If you had more than one Google Account associated with the device – like, you know, a personal account and a work account – be sure to sign in to each account separately on that Google Account site and repeat the process.

Step 3: Log out of messages

If you’re using Google’s Android Messages app, this last step is both one of the most important and one of the easiest to overlook.

Messages, as you may know, relies on a next-gen messaging standard called RCS to power its next-gen “Chat” functionality. It’s what lets you have contemporary messaging features like encryption, typing indicators, and read message alerts whenever you chat with someone who’s also using the service (or another compatible app. SCR).

That’s usually a good thing, isn’t it? Sure. But the presence of this standard adds an extra wrinkle to our broken Android phone conundrum: when you stop using one Android device and switch to another, your Messages account can often remain tied to the old device – and that means (a) any messages sent to you through that system will always arrive on that phone, and (b) you’ll likely run into problems when trying to connect to the “Chat” Messages system on any what a new device.

Once again, the solution here is simple, as long as you know it: just open this official Google Messages help page in the browser of any phone or computer you’re signed in to. Scroll down and you’ll find a form where you can enter your phone number to remotely turn off and log out of all connected devices.

The system will send you an SMS to confirm the disconnection. As long as your broken Android phone is technically powered on and running, you should be able to see it and copy the code by opening the standard Messages web app on your computer.

And with that, your old, broken clunker should be completely clear of all connections and sensitive information – and you can safely continue to send it back to the manufacturer, take it to a repair shop, or do whatever you please. seems.

Now you know. And now you can move on from your next broken Android phone without any extra hassle – and focus on booting up your Next record streak of damage-free fun.

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