Instead of storing passwords in a web browser, paper notebook, yellow sticky notes and Excel, with a password manager your passwords are consolidated in one easily accessible and secure place.
Password managers work with all major web browsers, and can log you into websites automatically. Your passwords are synchronized across different digital devices (computers, tablets, smart phones) in a secure way, and are always available no matter which web browser or device you use.
With a password manager you can always use strong, difficult-to-guess passwords, because you never have to remember them. It remembers them for you.
Let's learn more about password managers.
Password manager is a software program (application) designed for storing, organizing and managing passwords. You install it on your computer and use it to generate, save and organize passwords. It runs on Windows, Mac, smart phones and tablets.
There are three big problems with passwords. There is a lot of them, they all have to be unique and they must be strong, secure and unbreakable.
Imagine if you could solve all three problems at once. There is no better, more convenient and more secure way to deal with passwords than by using a password manager. After all, it was designed specifically for that purpose. And it works well!
Here is why you should be using a password manager.
Where do you keep your passwords? In a paper password notebook? Or a digital equivalent like Excel? Or maybe on yellow sticky notes attached to your computer monitor?
This may work, but it is not the most convenient way to manage passwords.
If they are on paper, you have to look them up and type them on a computer. If they are in Excel, you have to copy and paste them when logging into a website or online web account.
Maybe you keep them saved in your web browser. This way you don't have to look them up or type them in, the web browser does it for you. Still, if you sometimes have to use a different web browser, then you don't have the passwords you need easily available.
With a password manager, organizing passwords is a lot easier.
It is, after all, its purpose. You can't surf the web with it, and you can't use it to read and write emails. It's sole reason for existence is to help you organize passwords. With such a laser focus it is really good at it!
To log into a website you usually need a username (often in the form of an email address) and a password.
Password managers store each username and password as a record. You can also store additional information inside the same record, for example you can write down the security questions and answers if the website you're visiting requires you do create them.
This is convenient because all the information you need for a particular website is stored together in one record.
You can move records around (drag & drop) and organize them into groups that look like folders. Groups can have sub-groups, just like there can be folders within folders.
Creating a tree-like structure with groups and records is visually convenient and easy to manage. It gives you the flexibility to organize passwords in a way that works for you.
For example, you can group them as personal and work passwords. Then under personal passwords, you can create groups for "Shopping", Social Media", "News", "Travel", "Government", and so on.
While you can always search for passwords, organizing them visually is also helpful.
You might have noticed that when you type a username (or email address) and password into a website for the first time, your web browser asks if you want to save it for future use.
If you said yes, your web browser saved the username and password, and next time you visit the same website it will log you in automatically. This is convenient, because you don't have to type in your username and password every time.
The problem is that now your passwords are stored inside that particular web browser. If you need to use another web browser, your passwords will not be available.
Your passwords are also not secure inside a web browser. Web browsers are for surfing the web and they cannot match the security of password managers.
With a password manager, it doesn't matter which web browser you use. It works with all the major web browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Chromium, Opera, SeaMonkey and others.
Storing passwords centrally in an independent way is better then storing them with each separate web browser. And much easier to manage.
When you change a website password, no matter which web browser you use, it gets updated
only once in the password manager. After that all the other web browsers can use the new password. If you store passwords inside web browsers, you have to update each one independently. This is time consuming and error-prone.
Password manager is connected with web browsers and is able to log you into a website automatically, if that username and password were previously saved in the password manager.
When you log into a website and the password manager doesn't have the username and password information already, it will ask you if you would like to save it. If you agree, the password manager will log you into that website in the future automatically, by itself, without needing your input.
When you are initially saving the new website username/password
information in the password manager, you can decide what to call it (for example "Twitter") and in which password group to save it (for example, "Social
Media"). You can always re-organize it later by dragging and dropping password groups or records around.
Since all the major web browsers work with a password manager, you
can use different web browsers and always have access to all your
passwords. No matter which web browser you use, you will be logged into websites automatically with it.
For most websites, the password manager can detect when you are changing your password, and will updated its records with the new information.
Password managers are available for different digital devices, including computers (desktops and laptops), tablets and smart phones. No matter which device you use, the password manager will log you into a website automatically.
This is because passwords stored in a password manager are synchronized across all your devices. This is very useful because if you change your password on a computer, the new password will be available on your tablet (and smart phone, and other devices), and vice versa.
If you create a new username and password for a website, the password manager will synchronize the new record across all your devices. Your passwords will always be up-to-date on your computers, smart phones and tablets.
When you need to come up with a new password, the password manager can generate it for you. It can do this without you even having to worry what the password is. You can always look it up, but you don't have to.
And you don't have to remember it, because it is stored in the password manager.
You can configure the strength of automatically generated passwords. It is best to use the strongest passwords possible. The stronger the passwords, the less you have to worry about them. Very strong passwords are virtually unbreakable.
When you are in the process of creating a new website account (username/email and password), the password manager will ask you if you would like it to generate a password for you.
This is the most convenient way to manage passwords. It will create
a strong password for you every time, and store it securely. You never even have to care
what the password is. You know it is super strong and that's all that really matters.
Easy and secure! Surely you're not going back to pen and paper ever again.
A very useful password manager feature is the ability to audit the strength of your passwords. It will tell you which passwords are strong and safe, and which are weak and need to be changed.
You should change the weak passwords. You don't have to change them all at once. Change a few a week, or as many as you can.
It will also show you which passwords are being re-used. You should always use a unique password for every website. Reusing passwords will only cause you trouble.
Finally, you can see which passwords are very old. Consider changing
those as well. They might be for websites you don't use very often, or
those that do not make you change your password from time to time. You should still change them.
Password manager stores passwords in an encrypted database. Encrypted means the content of the password database is scrambled and unreadable. To open and read the database, a master password is required.
This is the only password you need to remember. It should be a really good, strong, secure password. Because if someone guesses or cracks this password, they can open the password database and gain access to all your stored passwords.
If you store passwords in Excel you may be aware that Excel spreadsheets can be password-protected. Excel is a powerful
business application but its password protection is weak. A password
thief will crack a protected Excel spreadsheet in no time.
Password managers are designed to protect passwords. Their password database is protected with an industry standard encryption (scrambling technique) that will take years to crack. In combination with a strong master password it will take hundreds of years to crack open the password database, making it impractical and a waste of time and resources.
Because the password manager keeps all your passwords organized in one place, and it automatically logs you into websites, you can use a different strong password for every website.
Using a different password for each website is very important. If you re-use passwords and someone steals your password for one website, they will have access to all the other websites where you use the same password.
Companies get hacked all the time. We learn about some of them in the news. Some we don't know about, and some don't even know themselves that they were compromised.
A good password security approach is to assume every company was or will be broken into. When it happens, the criminals will steal all the passwords stored in the company's databases.
This information is then sold on the Dark Web, where other criminals buy it for cheap. They use it to break into online accounts on other websites, because many people re-use their passwords.
With a password manager you don't have to remember any passwords (except your master password that unlocks the password manager), so it makes sense to use a different, difficult-to-guess password for each website.
If all your passwords are different, even if one website gets broken into and the criminals steal your password stored there, they will not be able to use that password to break into any of your other website accounts.
Using a password manager is the safest and most convenient way to manage passwords. It keeps all your passwords in one secure place, inside an application designed specifically for password management.
You can organize passwords in groups and sub-groups and store additional information like the security questions and answers that you may need to authenticate yourself to the website you are visiting.
Storing passwords in a password manager makes them available to all web browsers, not just the one you are currently using. And no matter which web browser you use, you are logged into websites automatically.
Because password managers on your computers, tablets and smart phones are connected (synchronized), all your passwords are available on all your devices.
Unlike in Excel, the password manager protects passwords with strong encryption. The password database where passwords are stored is scrambled and unreadable, and only your master password can unlock it.
The bottom line:
Your digital life is complicated enough. Why not make it a little easier?