Managing passwords with sticky notes

You have a bunch of sticky notes on your desk and think writing passwords on them is a good idea?


Managing passwords with sticky notes creates more problems than it solves. It is not convenient or secure and you cannot take your passwords with you.

Here is why using sticky notes to manage passwords doesn't make sense.


Can you have unlimited number of passwords?

A stack of colorful sticky notesHow many sticky notes can you manage?

You can only stick a certain number of sticky notes on your computer, monitor, wall or desk. What is that number? 50? 100? 200?

How many passwords do you have now? Can you fit all of them on sticky notes?

Are you going to have more passwords tomorrow, or less? More I bet.

Whatever the number of sticky notes you can use, you will run out of space to stick them on soon enough.


Are passwords always at your fingertips?

While you may have all your passwords when sitting at your desk, what if you're somewhere else? Does it make sense to take the sticky notes with you?

What if you only take with you those stickies that you know you will need? That may be theoretically possible but it is difficult in practice.

You cannot predict which passwords you will need during a day. Various life and computer laws suggest that if you take 99 out of the 100 passwords with you, you will need the one that you left home. Unless you have all of them all the time, you're taking a risk.


Are passwords stored in a reliable way?

You should change your passwords from time to time, but otherwise the media on which they are stored should last forever. Do sticky notes last forever?

They become less sticky relatively quickly and start falling off the wall. You may need to proactively create new sticky notes to replace older ones on a regular basis.


Are passwords easy to find?

The more passwords (sticky notes) you have, the harder it gets to find the one you need right now. You could try grouping them in some way, but you will have to move them around a lot, because as you add new passwords you will have to put them in the right password group.

And if you move them around a lot, it defeats the purpose of grouping them together in the first place.


Are passwords easy to use?

You have to type in each password manually on a computer. This is error-prone and will lead to mistakes.

You will not want to use strong, secure passwords because they may be difficult to type. Over time you will start re-using the same passwords, further lowering your computer and password security.


Are passwords backed up?

Red sticky note with What if you lose all your passwords?

What if you lose a sticky note with an important password? That would be inconvenient and even dangerous. Some websites require you to jump through hoops to recover a password.

To have passwords backed up when using sticky notes you would have to create a copy of every sticky note. If your primary sticky note gets damaged, lost or stolen, you would grab the copy sticky note.

Sounds like a pain. Do you want to spend all your time managing passwords?


Is this password management technique secure?

No, it is not secure. Anyone passing by your desk or looking through your window can read your passwords. With a good camera or binoculars someone could view and copy all your passwords from a distance.

Passwords must be encrypted, or scrambled in a way that only you can read them. This means if someone steals your sticky note they will be unable to read the password written on it. This is not possible with sticky notes.


The takeaway

There are multiple problems with using sticky notes to manage passwords.

It is inconvenient. Sticky notes are designed for temporary use. They are good as reminders to buy milk, but that's about it. They don't last, and managing a lot of them is a nightmare.

It is insecure. Passwords written on sticky notes are out in the open. Stickies get unstuck and fall down and are easy to forget about. To dispose of them you need a shredder.

They are hard to use. With more and more passwords, you need more time to locate the correct one. Then you have to type it in manually on a computer.

They are difficult to transport, making them unavailable if you are outside of your house.

You can't back them up easily.

Don't use sticky notes to manage passwords. Use a password manager instead.

Password managers are both easier to use and more secure. They are designed for managing passwords, log you into websites automatically and are the best and most secure way to store and manage passwords.

  1. How to manage passwords
  2. With sticky notes