Why you need a password storage tool

If there is one piece of software that has improved my life immeasurably in the last 10 years it would have to be a password storage program. It’s where I store all the usernames, passwords, website addresses, software licenses (serial numbers), logins, credit card numbers, etc… that I want to remember. And for me, working on client projects, I find I often need to record these for clients as well.

Yes, most modern browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari) will offer to remember these for you are getting better at syncing this data between computers. If you’re an Apple user, you’re probably familiar with Keychain which will in theory handle this for you. But in my experience, the purchase of the tool I use has been one of the best $43.36 (thanks to the conversion from USD to AUD) I have ever spent and has become my safety net for remembering passwords. By the way, the reason I know how much I spent (8 years ago on this) is because guess what, that too, was stored with the receipt/license key in the app that stores all my passwords.

As we all collect and consume more and more data, having some way of storing and finding it, that we remember how to use has become essential. There’s a ton of systems out there and different ways to do this. But the key point here is “You need a system for storing and recalling critical information”. But sure you say, I have four passwords that I alternate between and I can remember them no problem. The issue is that as applications require more secure passwords with harder to guess combinations of numbers, letters and characters, those 4 passwords soon become 16 passwords, which becomes 32, and before you know it 64 password variations. And of course, you don’t realise it’s an issue until you really need to log in to a website and you can’t remember which password variation you use. Am I right?

The app I have used in the past was Yojimbo from Bare Bones Software. It’s a native Mac app that previously didn’t include data syncing for multiple devices, but it does in version 4 and it has worked well for me. The main thing that I would like to see which the app doesn’t have, is a way to access the information on my iphone, because there is the rare occasion where I don’t have my laptop with me and I wish I had access to my password database. There is also no web interface. (Note: as of 2018 I’ve been migrating over to Dashlane.com for these exact reasons).

The way this app works which is true for most password storage/retrieval tools, is they expect you to remember one main password (the key to your vault if you like) and provided you can remember that, then the other passwords can be retrieved.

If you’re looking for a new tool to use, there’s a few others that I’m aware of. Here’s a bit of a list:

1 password – it works across a range of devices and seems pretty solid

LastPass – is another one I tried briefly. It has autofill and browser integration and a few nice things. Probably worth a look.

KeePass – is one I used at work. It’s ugly, but if you’re used to old Windows software that may not bother you. Personally I didn’t like it.

Dashlane – a few web, desktop and mobile platform that offers to remember passwords, receipts and credit cards every time it sees them.

Ultimately the trick here is probably not to stress too much about which one is perfect, but just to start using one. It will save you a lot of time and trouble I promise. That said it’s worth doing a bit of research and picking one that you like using, because this will ensure you do use it. And it will save you hassles down the line (as exporting a whole bunch of data if you decided to change tools can be a mission).

Finally here’s an article from LifeHacker on the 5 best tools if you want to read more about this.

Good luck, and good (password) hunting!