Although we call them “passwords,” the best computer passwords should not contain any human-language words because hackers buy dictionaries that contain every word in every language. And it’s no use adding a number or special character to a word; the hackers already run the most obvious of those combinations. It is possible to create a strong password out of words if you create a sentence-long password that you can remember. However, oftentimes there is a character limit to an allowed password. So you can’t quite generate a whole sentence. Strong passwords necessarily consist of such a random sequence of numerals, letters and special characters that you cannot memorize them. Or perhaps you could memorize one or two, but then you might be tempted to use the same password for two or more different logins – an unsafe practice.
Once you start writing down passwords, a new challenge arises. Should you write them on paper? If so, you will need to carry that paper with you if you travel to another location and use another computer or portable device. But then you open yourself to the possibility of losing the paper list or simply forgetting to bring it with you. There are endless permutations of do-it-yourself password management methods, some better than others. You might think you have a good system. However, once you step into the world of password management software, you achieve better security with less effort. To learn more, we invite you to read articles about password manager software. Our password manager reviews uncover the three best password apps: RoboForm Everywhere, LastPass Premium and Dashlane.
May we share our methods for determining the best password manager? Our approach is not complicated. We consider the features; the supported platforms in terms of operating systems, browsers and mobile devices; and the help and support that the software publisher provides.
A majority of password managers provide access from anywhere and synchronize your passwords and secure documents among all of your devices. Some of them synchronize in a proprietary cloud. Some synchronize in commercial storage clouds such as Dropbox. A few allow local synchronization without any cloud involvement. If you want to control your data without entrusting it to a cloud, no matter how encrypted, it is important to be aware of which products provide a choice in the matter.
The majority of password software products have most features in common. For example, all of the password organizers we reviewed encrypt your passwords, generate strong passwords for you and don’t store your master password anywhere. A few products lack certain features. For example, one of them doesn’t automatically save passwords. Another doesn’t automatically complete online forms. Some of them cannot import passwords from competing products, and some of them do not support multifactor authentication methods.
Platforms comprise three aspects: browsers, operating systems and mobile devices. Whether a particular password software publisher supports long lists or short lists does not matter as much as whether any list includes all of the computing devices that you use. However, more is better because you never really know what new devices might become part of your stable. Some password savers just run on Windows. Others run on Windows, Macs, Linux machines and the Microsoft Surface RT. Some can only take advantage of Internet Explorer. Others add compatibility with Chrome, Firefox, Dolphin, Opera and Safari. All of the products in our review support Android devices as well as iPhones and iPads. But some of them also support Blackberry and Windows Phone.
Help and Support
The norm for the password management product industry is to limit support access to email. Some vendors, however, stand out by providing telephone access as well as 24/7 live chat. Know what you can live with prior to purchase.
We typically have dozens or scores of logins to track. And the trend is toward more and more as eCommerce sites encourage you to register so that you can check out more conveniently during future transactions. Each of your passwords must be strong, unique and capable of being changed regularly. A secure password manager such as those in our review will make your internet activity safer, and that safety will be more convenient than with do-it-yourself methods.