Catalyst

Learning from Life and Leadership

What Was a That Password Again?

The bane of technological existence is the password. I understand the need, but the frustration remains. With every website visited comes the need to setup a password. After about three, the brain begins the dog paddle and by the fifth request it is going down for the third time.

How do you remember passwords? The answer is “you don’t.” You store passwords. But the question is how to best store them.

Some write them down but forget where they wrote them. From my experience, you have three basic choices.

Paper based

This option requires some form of notebook to store passwords you have established. Some have small Moleskine notebooks full of username/password combinations listed. Others buy the humble spiral notebook.

The drawbacks of the paper system are portability and ability to search.

If you always access the internet from a single computer, the notebook is always available. But if you move from coffee shop to office to home to airport, etc., you have to carry it with you.

The ability to search is also a problem. How do you find log-in information quickly? You can begin well, but with a few changes and a few editions, you are reduced to scanning lists looking for information.

However, paper does work, especially if you keep passwords pretty standard and simple. (Many websites do not cooperate!)

Cloud-based

As technology marches forward, it provides a ubiquitous solution. Store everything in the “cloud.” (The “cloud” refers to material stored on a remote site accessed through the internet.)

One excellent answer to the cloud dilemma is to use a system that stores both globally and locally. Many programs and websites that allow notes are available. My program of choice is Evernote. It works with all platforms and with most mobile devices. Evernote is free (to a point) and has its own program that is loaded onto a local computer (if that be your choice). 

In Evernote, you could set up a notebook and then have all the various sites visited as separate notes. I prefer to have a single note with all my passwords. Then, you simply put the website in the search box and Evernote finds it within seconds.

Evernote goes everywhere with me so I can check it from another computer that is not my own. It’s a terrific product with superior features.
(If you want the note to be on paper, it is simple to print it.)

Program-based

A final solution is also available. A program can be installed on your computer that will keep all your log-in information in one place.
On the Windows side is a program called Keepass. I have used it but find it rather clumsy. However, it can store passwords and usernames for almost anything–bank accounts, websites, email, etc., in a secure way.

My preference is 1Password for Mac (although it does have a Windows program I have not used extensively). The advantage of 1Password is its volume. It does capture log-in information. But it also allows you to store software license information (which is a headache with the 24 character license keys). With the program I can also keep track of sensitive information such as bank account information, passport data, and other details I need to remember but don’t want to be accessed by others.

1Password also has modules for IPhone, iPad and Android which allows for portability and search ability of password information.

Any of these three methods are an improvement on memory. It is said that Einstein could not remember his phone number. The reason is there were more important things to remember. The same holds true for passwords.

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