How to Keep Track of All Your Passwords
When you first got online, you probably had just one password to remember: the one for your email. Now you've been online for a couple years and it's getting out of hand: passwords for online banking, a web forum or two, your blog, your company's intranet, MySpace... enough! At this point you have two options: Use the same password or two for everything--and the security experts will tell you that's no option at all--or get a password management app.
Most password management programs--and there are plenty of them out there--do more than just keep your passwords easily accessible. They keep credit card numbers, addresses, and other important data, and even fill in some forms for you. Which program you choose depends on what your needs are and, of course, how much you're prepared to spend. Fortunately, you can get a lot of mileage out of not a lot of cash.
KeyPass Password Safe: Quick 'n' dirty 'n' free
For the spendthrift who doesn't need many bells and whistles, KeyPass Password Safe is a smart choice. It's an open source app with a focus on just passwords. It will store an unlimited number of passwords and will automatically fill username and password fields, or you can fill them yourself with copy-and-paste or drag-and-drop. And, since it's open source, there are several unofficial projects that bring KeePass to other platforms like Mac OS X, Linux, and Pocket PC.
eWallet: Mobile device-friendly
If you need some more features like, say, robust support for storing a wide variety of information like credit card numbers or the names of secret informants, Ilium Software's eWallet may be more your speed, especially if you carry a PDA or Smartphone. See, eWallet is not just a Windows program, it's also an app for your Pocket PC, Palm handheld, or Windows Smartphone, and the mobile versions are designed to sync with the desktop version so you can have your precious info at your fingertips wherever you go.
After the free 30-day trial eWallet will cost you $19.95 if you want to use it on Windows or your mobile device, and $29.95 for a bundle that includes Windows and a single mobile device. You'll need to shell out another $19.95 for each device after the first.
RoboForm: Take it with you
And then there's RoboForm, which is the great white shark of password management. RoboForm provides storage for all types of information and complete automation for filling out forms on the web. It gives you several encryption options, enables true "one-click" logins, will generate strong, random passwords for you, can handle complex web forms without being "trained," and that's just the tip of the iceberg. If you want it, RoboForm's probably got it.
RoboForm also has Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, Palm, and Symbian versions too, but for those of us without handheld computers RoboForm brings RoboForm2Go, a portable app designed to live entirely on a portable storage device like a pocket USB drive. This lets you bring your whole collection of secure information, plus RoboForm's automatic form-filling magic, anywhere you go, and leave without a trace when you're done.
There's a free-for-personal-use version of RoboForm that will store up to 10 passwords (after a 30-day unlimited trial), but if you're like me you'll want to skip straight to the 30-day trial of RoboForm Pro, which stores an unlimited amount of information and gives you unlimited identities and profiles, plus telephone support. After that trial is up, RoboForm will cost you $29.95 for a single Windows license. You can get licenses for additional computers for $19.95 each after that, or add a RoboForm2Go license for $19.95.
Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.