Liverpool Public Library

Expand Menu

Here's What to Do When You Decide It's Time to Manage Your Passwords

by Keith Gatling | 5 years ago

No Password BookToo many passwords! Just too many darned passwords!

One for my home email account, one for my work email account, one for my Facebook account, one for my Advance New York Media account, one for my Apple ID, one for my account, one for my credit union, one for my doctor’s office, one for my kid’s doctor’s office, one for my website, one for Walgreens, one for Snapfish, one for…well, you get my drift.

There are too many passwords to remember, and only so much gray matter to store them in, without getting them totally confused with each other. This is why many people have a “little black book” of passwords that they carry around with them.

But what if it gets lost…or stolen?

I have a better way to suggest.

First of all, while it’s true that many of our computers and devices will remember our passwords for us, depending on that all the time will get you into trouble someday. I can’t begin to tell you how many times people have come in, wanting to check their email on our computers, but couldn’t because they didn’t know their passwords. Because they’d never bothered to write it down or remember it after they created it that one time to use on the computer.

You could store all your passwords in a word processing document on your computer or a notes file on your mobile device, but what happens if your computer, phone, or tablet crashes and takes all those passwords with it? You need something better than that. You need something that’s specifically designed to do the job of storing your passwords and keeping them safe.

What you need is a dedicated password manager.

A good password manager will not only store your passwords for you, but will encrypt them to keep them secure from prying eyes. This means that it will require you to make…yes…one more password…the master password to the list of all the rest. And here’s the important thing to understand about this: if you forget the master password, you are absolutely toast. No one can help you recover it, not even the people who made the password manager. So with that in mind, it’s probably a good thing to make sure that at least one other person knows the master password. Perhaps you send it in a sealed envelope to a trusted friend who lives out of state. Maybe you put it in your safe deposit box. Whatever you do, don’t forget that password!

There are a lot of password managers out there. Some work across devices, so that if you lose or break your phone, you should still be able to get your passwords on your tablet or laptop. Some also have a web interface, so that you can get your passwords no matter where you are. Some of them will even make up secure passwords for you, but they tend to look like tHPsh7ba8m, and if you remember my original piece about passwords, that’s just way too hard for a human to remember.

I happen to use Dashlane, but there are others out there like LastPass, KeePass, 1Password, and Roboform 8. But whatever you do, look into using a password manager, and put away that little black book.