Managing Your Passwords

Signing up for a new account somewhere is always a bit of a pain. You may have a basic password that you use for almost every account, but then this one says you need something that's 16 characters long with three numbers, a capital letter and a symbol. How are you going to remember all of that, and how are you going to remember that this is one of the accounts where your password is Olympiu$998 instead of just olympius?

Although these password measures are intended to make your account more secure, they can have the opposite effect simply because you need to write those complicated passwords down somewhere so that you don't forget them.

So, here are some tips for coming up with new passwords, and remembering them without having to leave a sticky right on your monitor:

  • Base your password on a secret. People can look up your date of birth, they can ask you what your dog's name is, they know your favorite brand of coffee. They might not know the name of your first crush, how old you were the first time you stole your dad's car, or which Backstreet Boys song you secretly listen to when you're alone. If you base your password on personal information, make sure it's not personal information that just anyone might now.
  • If you have to write your passwords down, don't write them down in an unencrypted file on your computer, and don't keep a list in your wallet. An encrypted file with a password that you can remember is a safe place to keep your codes, or you can stash them in a notepad somewhere private, like under a mattress or in your car's glovebox.
  • If you like to use one password for everything, at least switch it up every now and then. Maybe you can't remember a list of thirty two passwords for everything you have to log into online, but you can change that skeleton-key password once every six months or so just in case anyone's cracked it.

Of course, you can also just download a password manager. There are apps that can sync with a smartphone and with the cloud, and can even auto-generate passwords for you so that you don't need to worry about it. You log into your password manager, and it logs into everything else for you, so you only need to remember one of them. Here are some of the top managers according to PC World.


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