Tech Notes – Skip Password Purgatory

Gateway to Password Nirvana

Password Purgatory

Webster’s second definition of purgatory is “a place or state of temporary suffering or misery”. It’s where I used to go whenever the password I absolutely knew was correct was heartlessly rejected by the account I absolutely had to access. Not to be denied by some digital gatekeeper, I would resort to some really bad password strategies. You might even recognize one or two of them:

  • PW = “password”, “123456″, or “qwerty”.
  • Use the exact same password for everything.
  • Use birthday or anniversary dates (Heck, I had to remember them anyway.)
  • Write all my passwords on tacky notes and frame my monitor with them.

Sorry if I opened the particular bag you keep your cat in, but she probably needed a little air anyway. Now just about every online move I make, from blogging to shopping, from posting to self-publishing, requires a password. And many sites have gotten all we-take-security-seriously and require strong passwords like these:

  • AWd*4Qd5!g
  • %$x2sC2RQG
  • W4A%KJb#78

But I can’t remember one we-take-security-seriously password like that, let alone a few dozen or more. I’d need a computer to remember all those cryptic, meaningless strings.

Wait. Maybe we’re on to something there.

Password Nirvana

Turns out you can have your we-take-security-seriously passwords and remember them, too. The solution is using a password management program. Who knew? I won’t attempt a comprehensive review of all your password management options here. You can find plenty of those with your favorite search engine. But here’s some general information to get you started:

  • Many standalone password management programs are inexpensive or free
  • Most modern browsers already have built-in password management capabilities
  • Password management programs hide your passwords behind a long master password that you enter only once per session
  • Password management programs remember more than just passwords
    • Addresses / URLs of account login pages
    • User names
    • Passwords
  • Password management programs usually have options for storing your data
    • Encrypted or unencrypted
    • Locally (on your harddrive)
    • Removable media (on a flash drive)
    • Remotely (online)

The password management program I settled on a few years ago is RoboForm from Siber Systems. (This may sound like a commercial, but trust me, I’m no paid spokes-model for anyone.) RoboForm nearly revolutionized the way I use the Internet. Once I enter my we-take-security-seriously master password, RoboForm automates the entire login process for any of my online accounts, all with a single click of the mouse:

  • Opens the login page in a new tab
  • Fills in the user name and cryptic, meaningless password
  • Submits credentials to the digital gatekeeper

With a single click, I’m securely logged in and ready to opine, purchase or post.

Bottom Line

Read some password management program reviews and try out some of the free trial versions or even your browser’s built-in password manager capabilities. Once you settle on the password management program of your own choice, it will revolutionize the way you use the Internet and keep you out of password purgatory, all while enhancing your online security.

And take those little yellow notes off your monitor. They really are tacky.

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2 thoughts on “Tech Notes – Skip Password Purgatory

  1. Thank you for addressing this. If I haven’t opened an account in a couple of weeks, I have no flaming idea what my password might be. I’ll definitely check out this program. Thanks for the tip.

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