Each of us now, has a long list of online accounts to keep track of, and for that reason, passwords have become the bane of our existence. Previously, I wrote on how to create unique passwords so you can potentially keep them in your head. That doesn’t work for everyone, so this article is about how to store them safely and accurately.
As a computer technician and a business owner, I get tripped up every day, not just with my own passwords and my company’s passwords, but also with many of my clients’ passwords. Nothing can ruin the efficiency of a day more than a forgotten password. That’s why I say this about passwords: WTF = Write Them Fastidiously.
You can write them in a notebook, or keep them in an app, but if they’re stored in a document that is accessible online, I recommend you either encrypt the document or, even better (and simpler), use a purpose-built app that encrypts them for you. Some great password managers that do this include Google, DropBox, RoboForm, LastPass, 1Password, and Keeper.
For each account that you have, you should record 4 things: Title, URL (web address), Username, Password. You can optionally record 5 more things: Entry date, Description, Recovery email address, Recovery SMS, and Recovery questions and answers. If you’re doing this on paper, write legibly and leave room for when you change your password, or simply cross out the entire line and write a new one. Don’t keep multiple entries for the same account!
In case the fields mentioned above aren’t clear, here is an example and some details:
- Title: Google (can be the same as the URL)
- URL: gmail.com or xxx.google.com
(Note 1: This is the web address you go to to use or manage this account)
(Note 2: The prefixes http://, https://, and www are not 100% necessary)
- Username: MyHandle or email@example.com
(keep in mind that Username may or may not be an email address)
- Password: mygr8Passwd! (case sensitive)
- Entry date: 15Jan2022 (this is only important if you must change a password on a schedule, but it’s also handy in case you have duplicate entries for the same account)
- Description: For Gmail email and other Google products (not always clear from the Title)
- Recovery email: firstname.lastname@example.org (an email where you can receive reset notices)
(sometimes same as Username, sometimes must be different than Username)
- Recovery SMS: 250-123-4567 (a phone on which you can receive recovery codes)
- Recovery Q&A: My Maternal Grandmother’s shoe size = 12 (there are sometimes multiple Recovery Q&As for one account)
And please, don’t just write them down … Write Them Fastidiously!