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Help! I'm at my wits end trying to manage my passwords

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 27, 2009 5:56 AM PST

I hope you all can answer my questions, as I am sick and tired of all the passwords I have to remember for all my online accounts from my department stores to financial sites. What bugs me most about creating passwords is that, every darn site has their own requirements for passwords! Some are case sensitive, some require numbers and letters, some a combination of both, some even restrict the amount of characters I can use! The list of requirements go on and I'm tired of it. I'm not getting any younger and it doesn't help that my memory is really starting to let me down. Some of you are saying why don't you just write it down? I've done that, but because I live with a few people I try to keep it in a safe place, but learned that eventually I will forget where I stashed it. I'm sure I'm not the only who has this dilemma, so how does everyone keep up with all these passwords? What do you do? I believe there are password managers for computer, but are they safe and trustworthy? What if someone else use my computer, will they get compromised? What are my options? Please help me out, I'm at my wits end trying to manage my passwords. Thank you!

Submitted by: William G.

If you have any advice or recommendations for William, please click the reply link and post your answer. Please be as detailed as possible in your submission and please provide links if you are recommending a product. Thanks!
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by shanebrown / February 27, 2009 10:33 AM PST

period, enough said.
It does it all, and does it perfectly when it comes to managing password. check it out, try and buy it. you will love it.

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A non-software/no-hardware suggestion
by tryggda / March 13, 2009 11:50 AM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

Choose a basic password, say DESDEMONA.
Then for sites requiring case sensitive just try DESDEMONA or--as I would suggest--desdemona.
If they need a combination of numbers and letters, it will always be 1DESDEMONA or 1desdemona.
You get the idea.
Have a base password and a SET SYSTEM for variants
Forget exactly which one it is? You can easily try desdemona, 1desdemona, 2desdemona, or 123 desdemona, etc etc.
Being too short is usually the problem, not too long.
And usually two will be enough: desdemona and 1desdemona and will be sufficient to cover ALL your password needs with no extra software or other memory required.

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by myerslaw / March 13, 2009 12:09 PM PDT

Methinks that's a good idea. I use it as well, but have not done so in iambic form --- yet.

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by nemydiadeep / March 20, 2009 4:13 PM PDT
In reply to: Desdemona

I think that what myerslaw said is one of the best options, that's what I do. Pick a base word and then if a combination of numbers and letters are required add a number you will remember.
You won't have to spend money on software then.

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by MartinCailes / March 13, 2009 7:17 PM PDT

I just had a password request where 1 capital letter and one of the following @,~,! etc is required. the number of possible combinations would start to get unmanageable even if you knew what the requirements were

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It might still work for you without software
by tryggda / March 13, 2009 11:35 PM PDT
In reply to: 123$#!Desdemona

Just set your rules (and keep them simple and sort of grammatical)
It will always be, say:
Then, as needed
a) The capitalized letter will always be the first D: Desdemona
b) The number will always be a given number, say 3: 3Desdemona
c) Your special character will always be * at the end: 3Desdemona*
Or just make 3Desdemona* your universal password.

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by amfeder / March 15, 2009 10:23 AM PDT

Instead of "3desdemona", you might consider "d3sd3mona". That wa you've got a password that should be ther right length - if you need to lengthen, add "my" before it. If you need to have a least on or 2 cap letters, always make the "d" a cap.
That way you have your memborable formula.
Now I have to go back to every site and change my password to match my formula!!

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Remembering Passwords
by rkmarkan / March 13, 2009 7:49 PM PDT

Setting a basic password and simple variations is not always the solution. My banker wants me to change my password every 60 days and I am not allowed to use variants of my earlier passwords. That does drive my crazy. Another, banker wants a change every 6 months .... and so on. That sure can be difficult - with case sensitive, word-nmerical and other limitations imposed by different agencies.
The simplest way is to gp by the rules AND have an excellent memory even if you are 70 years old or more.

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Not quite 70 but gaining on it.
by novice57 / March 25, 2009 4:58 PM PDT
In reply to: Remembering Passwords

Using Firefox gives one the ability to assign "properties" to bookmark links. This is accessed with the right click menu and isn't likely to be something others would consider looking into even if they had access to your system. Under properties/description I type in user name and password information for all my bookmarks. When banks or other site passwords are updated I simply access the information contained in the description, make appropriate changes, and then don't have to think about it again. This methodology is explained in my will, which is securely locked away and in the possession of my attorney so that my executor would have electronic access to my accounts in the event of my death or incapacitation.

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A Takeoff on that
by realsharp / March 14, 2009 6:28 AM PDT

First I do use Roboform and love it.

I use 4 numbers first followed by 4+ letters which relate to the company askin got the password, 1234myspace.

Then since I have a domain name for my email address I use MySpace@MyDomain.com. My domain is set to send me all email at my AOL email address. This helps in identifying who's selling your email address to spammers. What? You didn't thoroughly read the Privacy Agreement.

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can you explain this a bit more
by belnbst / March 17, 2009 1:17 AM PDT
In reply to: A Takeoff on that

In reading your reply about the domain name and the e-mail you have going to aol e-mail, I'm trying to understand exactly how you combat the privacy issue with companies.

So you create an e-mail such as myspace@mydomain.com, so if say you were using twitter. You'd say your e-mail was twitter@mydomain.com ? so that you would know specifically who was selling your e-mail out? Is that the understanding?

It may be too early in the morning and I'm not able to grasp what your saying, so if you can please explain in detail. I would greatly appreciate it.


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Custom email addresses
by JediLeba / April 24, 2009 10:33 PM PDT

I think that's exactly what he is saying - I do the same thing. I recently had emusic.com sell the address I gave them (I used e-music@mydomain.com), and one of the people on eBay also started spamming me using my paypal address (paypal@mydomain.com). On that one I know who it was because of the content of the spam, but I knew right away that it was spam because of the address it was sent to.

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by Frank Card / March 16, 2009 9:00 PM PDT

Problem with that, surely, is that once the villain has cracked one password it's not too difficult for him to work his way through the rest.

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Whole words in a password is never a good idea
by DominusX / March 20, 2009 6:29 PM PDT

Using whole words tend to leave one open for brute force attacks, I'd stay away from them, I prefer pattern based passwords, here's an example of one I have used in the pass. see if you notice the pattern.


It may look hard to remember, but it's actually quite simple, since I'm not required to memorize each charactor rather just the pattern created on the keyboard, and as you can see it looks quite random.

CNET has several password creation and maintenance software, your best bet is to start there.

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Password Corral
by glinwnc / March 13, 2009 12:30 PM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

I've used the free "Password Corral" from Cygnus Productions for years. It has every feature one could possibly want in a password manager program without all the extra "bells and whistles" of most of the shareware and commercial password managers. It's very compact and offers the choice of 256 bit Blowfish or 128 bit Diamond 2 encryption. It also offers a wide choice of password characteristics in its password generator feature. All in all such a great little program that I had no hesitation in making a contribution its designer.

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Re Password Corral
by Carnelrig / March 13, 2009 7:53 PM PDT
In reply to: Password Corral

I also have used Password Corral for years and find it covers all my needs, simple,and very flexible

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Password Corral
by owlsquest / March 14, 2009 1:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Password Corral

I too use Password Corral as do both of my children(on their own profiles), with my profile alone containing over 80 passwords stored in different folders. As glinwnc stated 256 & 128 encryption is available, with the program also able to generate passwords based on user preferences. After a brief scare when we thought the HD had crashed (laptop battery had come loose), we backed up all the Password Corral profiles to two external drives. Now each time we update a password or add a new one, the profile is then copied to an alternating external drive, similar to what I do with my Quicken backups, each "profile.pc" having an appended date. If there is a problem it is very easy to return the "profile.pc" (after deleting the date) back to the related Password Corral folder. By default, this folder is located in each users My Documents folder, listed as "Password Corral Data". As an added precaution, we change our 'entrance' password every 3 months. We have used this free program for years and it has made password retrieval more manageable, especially for those passworded accounts that are only accessed once or twice a year. We too made a contribution to the program designer for this very compact and user friendly program.

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Here's a Suggestion:
by kstenbch / March 13, 2009 1:54 PM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

I use Google Toolbar. There's one for Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. I use them both; it works with my Gmail and Google Account, and it's free. Plus you can take the passwords to any computer, just log into your Google Account. You can do the same with bookmarks. I also use Google Passwords with Avant, Google Chrome, and Advanced Browsers. Netscape also has a free password manager. Yahoo also has a free password manager. Just pick one. I haven't filled in a password after generating it for years. Whenever you create a new password for a new account, simply log out of that account after successful creation; then log back in and Google Password Manager or Yahoo (whichever you choose) will ask you if you want Google Toolbar to remember this password for this site. Click yes and you're done.

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Here's a suggestion
by raydonwood / March 15, 2009 2:47 AM PDT
In reply to: Here's a Suggestion:

I'm not sure how Google etc. use and store passwords but if they store the passwords on your computer rather than a network server of some kind then you are lost if you try to access a site from any other computer than your own. I experienced this when I changed my personal computer and only had backups of my known personal data.

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by loopy_bear / March 13, 2009 3:48 PM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

Absolutely brilliant..does everything claimed. Cannot be without it and saved my bacon several times. Cheers Jeff

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by dduncan51 / March 14, 2009 12:03 AM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

Nuff Said!
Roboform not only safely stores username/passwords and other types of login information, it also opens the web page for you or just fills in the information if you've already opened it.
It also stores personal information that can be used to fill out other types of forms, such as purchase orders, with one click.
It keeps track of just about any kind of information you can think of. I use it to store license keys and other license info.

The one thing I wish it would do is open up "Windows" type login screens for local programs. Alas it doesn't... yet.

I guess I said more than enough, but you can't go wrong purchasing Roboform.

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by FULL MONTY / March 14, 2009 2:14 AM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

I have been using Large Software's PM, and it way may more simple and doesn't add yet another toolbar to your Browser like Robo does. For simplicity and saving space in your browser, Large Software PM is the way to go.

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Roboform question
by Triadguy / March 15, 2009 7:10 AM PDT
In reply to: RoboForm

I am currently using a password program called ZNET Password Pro. I currently have about 200 passwords, program license codes, etc stored. Will Roboform import any of these?

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Try Roboform
by lbergus / February 27, 2009 10:36 AM PST

Roboform worms great for me!

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by wdbintx / March 16, 2009 2:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Try Roboform

"...worms.."? A typo, or a freudian slip?

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Password memory
by stevevic57 / February 27, 2009 10:40 AM PST

I think most of us can understand your dilemna.
FireFox had a freebie add-on that managed passwords quite well, but that is only if you use Firefox.
I no longer use it (as of 2 days ago), and am looking for a password manager for IE7 as well.
If I find something that works as well, I will re-post.

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by dshipp28760 / March 13, 2009 11:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Password memory

Been using it for,,,,, seems like ten years

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Nice Program
by trishdom / March 14, 2009 2:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Roboform

Acerose Password Vault. Its small....can be taken with you on a flash drive. Keeps your passwords, usernames, titles and URLs in an encrypted file. One password to open it....click a URL and it opens. Then you have the username and password right there.

The one thing it does not do is automatically enter the username and password on the site. But I don't like that anyway. I'd rather do it myself.

Oh....and its FREE.

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manage passwords
by jayRwv / February 27, 2009 10:40 AM PST
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by MYVISTA / February 27, 2009 10:41 AM PST


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