I wish I had a dollar for every time I get calls about lost passwords. Sometimes it’s for lost wi-fi logins, sometimes for routers, servers, laptops, documents, web sites. I marvel at how many passwords I have now both for business and personal compared to even three years ago.
Three years ago was when I decided I was overdue to get a password manager.
What is a password manager?
Sometimes called a password vault, a password manager is a digital safe to store your user names, passwords, codes, even credit card information. The more sophisticated ones allow you to synchronize the information across your devices (phone, desktop, laptop, tablet) so you always have the information and it is always up to date. Enterprise password managers allow you to share company passwords with select employees or partners.
Password managers also help you create more secure passwords. It can be tricky on some web sites to come up with the right combination of letters, numbers, capital letters, punctuation marks that meet the requirements of the web site and that you can remember but hackers can’t guess.
Why do you need a password manager?
Besides helping you create more secure passwords, password managers help you store the information securely and keep it up to date.
Frequently I see clients who have to search through pages and pages of notebooks (or stickies) to find the more current password for an account. A good password manager usually has a search feature that lets you locate the information quickly. LastPass, which I use, also lets me file the information in folders which also makes it easier to find information.
Password managers definitely save time by making it easier to find information but also by automatically logging you into the web sites you use frequently. How much time you spend logging into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your business banking web site, your vendors’ web sites?
Besides the being able to share the passwords with business partners and employees, you can also share your personal digital information with your power of attorney or executor.
How to choose
Lifehacker did a great review of the top 5 password managers, definitely worth a read.
Make sure you chose a password manager that works with all your devices (Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, etc.). Make sure it is well established and well funded (i.e. how long have they been around and do they have a sustainable business model). The last thing you want is to get duped by hackers or to put in the effort to get all your information into the manager and then have it disappear.
And choose a very secure master password for it. Don’t use the same password for the master password as you use for any other account. It should be very long and complicated.