Clutter Control: Organizing Computer Passwords

passwordFor the longest time, I had the bad habit of creating usernames and passwords for different websites that I visited thinking, “This password is easy enough; I’ll remember it.” And for the first two or three, I did.

Then I started jotting them down quickly while I was creating them, only to misplace or accidentally toss them later. A lot of us at this point get frustrated and opt for the ‘easy way’ of using the same username and password for everything.
Not a safe choice, by the way. Once someone figures out your one and only password, they have access to your entire digital life! Aside from that danger, I discovered that not all websites would accept my password. Some require a certain mix of letters/numbers/characters, and I found myself having to add a couple of digits to the end of my password here and there, complicating the system again.

So I posted the question on a forum, “I need an easily accessible, yet private and secure way to organize all my usernames and passwords. Any ideas?”

Forums are amazing! Here are some of the ideas people had:

   • Keep them as part of the bookmark for the website its used for: example; LL Bean – Eva12345 (it’s not real – don’t bother). Of course, this method is only good on a very secure computer.

   • Keep them on an Excel spreadsheet or Notepad document with an innocuous name for security. You can also type in password hints for yourself instead of the actual passwords.

   • For added security, keep the Excel file is on a jump drive instead of directly on your computer. Some jump drives even allow for adding password protection, so all you have to remember is the one password for the jump drive and you’re set!

   • Keep them in a small spiral tablet, notebook or address book. That way it can go in a purse or pocket to be used on the go.

   • Store them in an address book or Rolodex file. Just enter the passwords alphabetically by business name or website.

   • Tape a ‘cheat sheet’ with all your passwords in a hidden place near your desk. Just make sure to tell one person you trust ‘just in case…’

   • You might also want to check into Passkeep.com, KeePass.info, or RoboForm.com for some free downloadable software that keeps track of them for you. I chose RoboForm and I love it! All I have to remember is one master password to be able to access all the rest. And the software fills in the info and submits it for me in one click – Pretty nifty!

Any other brilliant ideas out there?

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17 thoughts on “Clutter Control: Organizing Computer Passwords

  • November 4 2008 at 9:40 am
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    If you're listing your passwords in Excel or Word, you can set a password on the file itself. Then the file is secure and you need to remember only that first password.

  • November 4 2008 at 10:01 am
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    i have two main email addresses, other than the one I use with my blog. they have different passwords. when i sign up for a website i use one of those two email addresses, depending on what i'm signing up for, and then use a variation of the other email address' password. for example if my emails are aby@mail.com password:mike and abe@yahoo.com password:tom. if i sign up for an account using the abe@yahoo.com email, i'll make the password m1ke, or m1k3.

    if my original password isn't long enough, i have a certain combo of #s to add at the end.

    it seems to work for me.

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  • November 5 2008 at 1:51 am
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    Hi from Morocco ;) !! I am a huge fan of this blog !! Thanks for sharing all these great tips with us …Anyway…

    I have only 2 email addresses, one personal and 1 for work, and my passwords are almost the same. I keep them in my mail box (I send an email to my address with all passwords.. as well as all my informations(Passeport number… ID … ) So I can have access to them anytime.
    Personally I prefer not to write them in "paper" anyone can find them, and I can forget them by mistake … :)

  • November 5 2008 at 5:31 am
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    Great post, Eva.

    I keep mine in an Excel spreadsheet which I print out and stick into my daily planner.

    Well, everything except my bank account passwords – those are in my head, where they belong :)

    It is the only thing that works for me – these online things just don't work for my organising style!

    Marcia Francois's last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – beautiful desk

  • November 5 2008 at 9:18 am
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    Ann – Great idea! I could have one email with an all letters password and another with a combo of letters and number. Thanks!

    Marcia – I also keep a list of mine in my planner as backup or if I'm away from home. Except for my bank account. :)

    Nia – Welcome! I'm so glad you like the blog! Morocco – wow! It's so exciting to get to interact with people from all over the world. Great tip – thanks!

    Eva Wallace's last blog post..Recycle Paper the Easy Way

  • November 5 2008 at 9:51 am
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    Several accounts require absurdly frequent password changes, so I've found it's useful to have a "seed" password that never changes. I just tack extra bits on the front or back, and only write down the difference. So on my desk blotter, in an obvious and not at all secure location, I have written down "78." That, interpolated somewhere into the seed, makes a solid 12-character password.

  • November 5 2008 at 3:22 pm
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    I have a code phrase + the name of the site.

    The phrase is made of numbers and letters/cap and lower case

    You could use childhoodnickname3@tsname of site ie: rosie eats google rosie3@tsgoogle

    this way you always know you have enough numbers/letters/upper/lower and it's difficult to guess but easy to figure out if you know the password.

    I have 3 variations.
    1 for random stuff I'll use one time.
    2 for non-essential sites (non financial) and 3 for financial sites

    Each is more complex but easy to figure out

  • November 6 2008 at 1:26 am
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    On a MAC I use KeePassX – It is very easy to use, and install. It allows you to sort your passwords with folders you customize for your needs. i.e. Clients -> Client Name -> then describe them. i.e. Blog Admin

    PC – > Password Safe works similarly to KeePassX

    Seo Rockstar's last blog post..What do you think? are these chicks Nerds or Models?

  • November 6 2008 at 11:15 am
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    I have most usernames and a code for my passwords in an addressbook on my desk. I also have a folder in every email accound I have called "Site Stuff" where all of the confirmation emails are. That way, I can check there also.

    Valerie's last blog post..Shattered Ice

  • November 7 2008 at 12:09 pm
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    i store hints to passwords in my Mac Contacts application.

    i never write them out in case my computer gets stolen…only i will be able to decipher them

  • August 1 2010 at 11:57 am
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    Good tips! I am using paid version of Roboform, and it works great for me.

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