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about how keeping track of all your passwords is a little bit like keeping track
of cows? Well, it’s certainly a bit of effort to keep them corralled, but a
righteous pain in the chaps if any of them happen to get out!
I am not
what most would refer to as an "early adopter" of technology. You’re more
likely to find me sitting on the porch rocker with your great-granny (since even
granny’s probably got a tablet of some sort) lamenting about kids and their phones these days. But I’ve also come to the realization that this whole keeping track
of a gazillion passwords thing is out of control.
(Editor's Note: With the discovery of the Heartbleed bug, updating and keeping track of new passwords is now vital. Learn more about how Heartbleed compromises website security and user accounts.)
I, for one:
Here’s what I
concluded: it’s time to download a password manager to take care of the hassle
and keep my passwords safe (this would be the electric fence to carry out the
cowboy metaphor a tad further…). Need more convincing? Read this argument from How to Geek.
A password manager is software you can download to help you
organize (read: memorize) your passwords and PIN codes.
The way it works is that the password management software has a
local database or a file that holds the encrypted password data for secure log in onto computers, networks, web sites
and application data files. See the "encrypted" part? That’s what’s critical to
keeping your information safe.
To get my toes wet, I tried out LastPass’ free version and found I
was able to get it set up in about five minutes. Updating each site with a
password thereafter takes another minute or two.
After you initially download your password manager software, you’ll
need to go onto the site in order to set it up initially and come up with your brilliantly
complex, memorable password that will be your “master password” thereafter. Here’s
a helpful step-by-step guide (with pictures – whee!) to walk you through what
this looks like for LastPass.
You can also check out this brief seven minute overview on the ins and
outs of KeePass here.
A quick search will show that there are a lot of password managers
out there. This Lifehacker article gives a helpful rundown of key features of some
of the more popular password managers that surfaced in my research: KeePass,
LastPass, 1Password, RoboForm, SplashID. Here at TechSoup, we use KeePass and Password Safe.
While LastPass is repeatedly flagged as being one of the more
user-friendly versions of password managers available (my experience
suggest this is the case, too), there are many to choose from, depending upon:
Have you had previous experience with
password managers? What worked for you or what should we avoid? Log in to add
your two cents!
Images: New Old Stock Photos
Dulcey Reiter, Rubber Band Sharp Shooter, Faux Tap Dancer Extraordinaire and Occasional Blog Contributor, Tech Soup's Senior Global Campaign Manager