The Benefits of a Password Manager

Imagine having an enormous old fashioned key fob with hundreds of different keys of different shapes and sizes used to unlock various doors, cabinets, windows, cupboards and chests around the house. None of them are labelled. Very soon confusion is likely to set in, with the ensuing frustration and time wasting involved in fumbling around in different locks for the right key.

Many of us are in a similar position with our online passwords. Internet security dictates that we need to have a password key for all our different services, but storing and remembering them all often proves problematic. What is the solution?

One common way around this is to designate one strong password that covers all your bases, although you then run the risk of losing your entire website security if this gets compromised. Many websites also have their own idiosyncratic requirements when setting a password – e.g it must include three capital letters, a symbol, a number value less than eight, between 5 and 9 digits and at least one character in Japanese – forcing you to have to generate new passwords for different services.

Another solution is to sign up for a password manager service.

What is a Password Manager?

At its most basic, a password manager is a piece of software or online service that securely stores all your passwords, keeping them safe from prying eyes. You could have thousands of passwords stored in your manager, and the only one you need to recall is the password for the service itself. This being said, a password manager is only as good as the security and accessibility settings the tool can bring the bear on your data. An insecure or severely limited password manager is worse than useless. There are two main types of password manager to choose from:

Cloud Based Password Managers

These services store your password data remotely and enable you to access it online through a secure website. Typically they charge you a monthly subscription fee for the privilege.  The biggest advantage of cloud services is that you can access your passwords across all your devices, allowing you to sync your laptop, tablet, desktop uses for instance. The downside is the security of the cloud itself.  How safe are their servers to hackers? The other disadvantage is if their service goes down, whether by accident or design, you will be left unable to sync your passwords and access your services. Both these drawbacks mean it is worth doing your research and choosing a reputable supplier.

Desktop Based Password Managers

These are pieces of software that you install on your desktop PC (or tablet etc) and that store your password data locally behind a strong firewall. The advantage of choosing these services are the cost, as they are typically cheaper over time that a cloud service, and that you are not dependent on the whims of a cloud based supplier. The disadvantages are that the password manager is only applicable to one device. When using an alternative computer, for example, you are reduced to wracking your memory again whenever you need to log in somewhere.

Whatever option you choose, password security is a real concern that all internet users should be taking seriously. A password manager can help you generate strong passwords and keep your data secure so you can be safe online.