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Organizing Computer Passwords

Martha Stewart Living

It's hard to keep all of those numbers and characters straight, especially since you shouldn't use the same password for more than one service. Some people store them in a document on their home computer. This is fine -- if (and only if) you encrypt the file, a feature available on most personal computers.

Encryption scrambles text, so it will be unreadable if someone hacks into your system. Even with this defense, make sure your main log-in is protected by a ''super password,'' one that has at least eight characters and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.

There are other, more high-tech storage options to choose from. For example, you could put your passwords on a portable USB flash drive with fingerprint recognition. The biometric device costs upward of $100, but you'll be the only person in the world who can access its contents, because only your fingerprints will open it.

Then there are programs that you can download from the Internet (often for free) that will maintain a protected database of passwords for you.

Comments (75)

  • Neardley 21 Oct, 2013

    I have a personal rolo-dex that has all the websites, the ID's and the passwords for each. It is in an extremely safe place, so there is no need to worry about security. If I am ever incapacitated, whoever needs to take care of my affairs, this rolo-dex will make their job infinitely easier...of course, it helps me out every so often, too.

  • other Jan 12 Oct, 2013

    LaraA
    28 Dec, 2008

    Create an algorithm that is unique to each site. An algorithm??????????

  • Violets23 19 Mar, 2013

    Duh, people. The point is, you should NOT, as in NEVER write down your password and keep it in a notebook next to your computer! Seriously. Use an encrypted program or write it in code!

  • GheneS 1 Mar, 2013

    We use splashID to generate, store and organise our passwords so we only have the software's password to remember. Everything else, we just copy & paste.

  • KerryDi 4 Dec, 2011

    WE ARE BOTH OVER 65 (MY HUBBY AND I) Someone other than myself should be able to access my computer records and help pay the bills etc. I have an address book that is written in code and my daughter-in-law and sis have the code. DL will step in and take over my record keeping in the event something happens to me. Such as physical disability, mental dementia, or death. My hubby doesn't remember how turn the computer on each time he wants to use it. Paper has always remained constant.

  • TreborNC 4 Nov, 2010

    I use a password protected word document with the weblink for the accoutn and store it on a flash drive. That way it is portable and I have the copy for work or home use.

  • nana2oneboy 16 Oct, 2010

    I recently heard that if you use 13 or more letters, characters, symbols as passwords, they are not likely to be hacked, which stands to reason. I am now in the process of changing my important passwords (like banks, credit cards) to include more characters. I agree that on the sites where no personal information is exchanged, using the same password works fine.

  • deLadyBex 14 Oct, 2010

    for a business the password safe might be okay as they are insured for theft etc. but as for me as an individual I keep my passwords secret and write them. I have had I>D> Theft and it is not a pretty lot to prove it is not you doing the dirty deeds.

  • Gram-I-Am 14 Oct, 2010

    I am retired from an international company and everything was computerized and required a password that had to changed every so often. Some would not let you reuse a passwords that you had previously used. Eventually, we were given a handy little program called Password Safe. This is a free program that can be downloaded at this link http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/
    You only have to remember one password. It stores

  • DennieB 14 Oct, 2010

    I also use an address book just for my online stuff. It's great because you can take it with you and pay your bills (ie) from any where.

  • chicagosully 14 Oct, 2010

    three days ago my paypal account was hacked and authorized $500 to Korea. I had a random word and number combination. This acct. was connected to my debit card.
    Don't think you are exempt from this! Luckily payola security caught this transaction but now I am having to change all my bank accounts. Don't be naive.

  • vsatej 14 Oct, 2010

    Have the same password for everything it totally works.

  • donnaannharris 14 Oct, 2010

    my passwords are on my rolodex. talk about low tech

  • Deliuta 14 Oct, 2010

    I put my passwords on a word doc. and labeled something random like nana's meatloaf recipe and copy it in a few places.

  • bwood33 14 Oct, 2010

    I don't keep complete passwords on computer. I keep a list that shows the beginning and end of the password and use the same word in the middle that I don't write down anywhere. i.e.: super****mom best****mom pretty****mom

  • lwarther 14 Oct, 2010

    I put all my passwords in a little address book that I keep near my laptop at home.

  • lwarther 14 Oct, 2010

    I put all my passwords in a little address book that I keep near my laptop at home.

  • msrivinus 14 Oct, 2010

    I found one of the best tips on creating passwords in a newspaper article. Use the first letter of a song title or chorus -
    example: The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music = THAAWTSOM - if you remember the song you will remember random letters - you can always add numbers or other symbols as well. If I keep a record of the passwords I might just put something like "Amazon - Julie Andrews" and that would remind me of the song.

  • hunter0562 17 Apr, 2009

    I can't believe how many people are using a Roladex or address book! Personally - I think creating a password protected Word or Excel file stored on an USB drive (computer could crash!) is the way to go!

  • hunter0562 17 Apr, 2009

    I can't believe how many people are using a Roladex or address book! Personally - I think creating a password protected Word or Excel file stored on an USB drive (computer could crash!) is the way to go!

  • tomlisa28 29 Dec, 2008

    I read an article once that said you should choose one word for your passwords ie: apple. Then you keep a notebook or file on your computer and list the site and the numbers you added to your word.
    ie: marthastewart.com 3*80 (so you know your password is 3apple80) Just don't write the word down!!

  • LaraA 28 Dec, 2008

    Create an algorithm that is unique to each site

  • Melijane9 3 Dec, 2008

    I have code words for passwords

  • Melijane9 3 Dec, 2008

    I have code words for password

  • pickypeople 24 Nov, 2008

    I don't often recommend but I so completely endorse

  • michelebrissette 21 Nov, 2008

    I have a few passwords that I use for services that aren't really important. Since I only have a few they are easy to remember. I have a very strong password (letters and numbers and special characters) for more important sites that should have better security like my banking website. A key is to NEVER EVER SHARE PASSWORDS WITH ANYONE for ANY REASON. Even your spouse shouldn't know your passwords. If you must share a password with someone that password should not be used for anything else.

  • michelebrissette 21 Nov, 2008

    Passwords should never be written down. Anyone who gets into your home (cleaners, guests, kids) or office (co-workers, cleaners, any visitor) can then access anything that has a password, for example your banking website. It may not be ideal but I do use a password for more than one service. ...

  • birdangel 15 Nov, 2008

    One way to REALLY help someone with, say, Lyme Disease, a very widespread illness, is to organize their passwords and computer security, including backup schedules. This is a huge thing, as Lyme can destroy "executive function." I don't want to go off topic, but organizing computer matters is a huge help for the disabled. You can do it--look around for where you can help. You all sound pretty organized!

  • stranger 13 Nov, 2008

    I bought a rolodex and keep in by my home computer. It has all the websites I visit along with the passwords. It works great and with them being in alphabetic order, it couldn't get any easier

  • sushay14 13 Nov, 2008

    My plan isn't as "high tech" :D I just bought a pretty address book at a dollar store and write the name of the site my Username and Password. I keep it at my desk. Works well for me. For my bill paying I have them all listed on the inside back cover so I don't have to flip through.

  • harvard44 11 Nov, 2008

    I do EXACTLY the same as ESPANA and it works VERY well. Except mine is a PC. And I wish I had spent a little more money to get a Mac. Far fewer security worries on the whole.

  • Espana 10 Nov, 2008

    I use a mac and an iphone, and take advantage of the "Notes" section under each contact. For everything I have a password for, I enter them as a contact and then in the Notes section give myself a reminder about the password that goes with that contact. I never list the whole thing. I have one standard password that I do variations on, so my password hint might look like: T3default and so on. It works really well, and my hints are always in two places once I sync my computer to my phone.

  • RAParker7 10 Nov, 2008

    Be CAREFUL: not all email is encrypted! I use a program from download.com called KeePass Password Safe. All information is encrypted and the program is locked with a password. The program can even create "generate" strong passwords for you. Now All I Remember Is One Password!

  • wevrchic 10 Nov, 2008

    I use an everyday rolodex works great and I can add more cards when needed.

  • barbaraspearin 10 Nov, 2008

    I use a small address book to organize my passwords. If it is the telephone company, it goes under "E" for Embarq. The user name is written out, but the password is abbreviated so only I know it, and if someone else looked at it, they wouldn't have a clue. It works for me

  • jackielapham 9 Nov, 2008

    Emails are encrypted so I send myself an email with the subject: PASSWORD: www.whateversitename.com. In the email I include the site, my id, my password, answers to secret questions, etc. I keep these emails in afolder titled Passwords. I can survive a computer crash since emails can be accessed from any computer and kept forever. Change the password for email accounts often. If you change your email provider simply forward copies of these emails to your new account.

  • jackielapham 9 Nov, 2008

    Emails are encrypted so I send myself an email with the subject: PASSWORD: www.whateversitename.com. In the email I include the site, my id, my password, answers to secret questions, etc. I keep these emails in afolder titled Passwords. I can survive a computer crash since emails can be accessed from any computer and kept forever. Change the password for email accounts often. If you change your email provider simply forward copies of these emails to your new account.

  • megbonkers 9 Nov, 2008

    The problem that the rolodex and address book have is that if you aren't storing them in a safe EVERY time you leave the house, you leave yourself vulnerable to people breaking into your house. They can take the computer, and the rolodex/address book, and then get into everything at their leisure. It's a big risk to assume that no one is going to break into your house, ever. Just a thought.

  • ruthandshawna 9 Nov, 2008

    I find using just a regular address book works great. Keeps the name alphabetical order, easy to use and I just keep it locked in my safe for safe keeping. If I can't remember a user name and password, I just flip my book open to the appropriate letter and there it is.

  • LouLou2007 9 Nov, 2008

    Way to go rcdesigns; I use the same thing and I have a brand new Dell PC; loaded to the hilt and it does NOT have it on it either. See, there's more ways than 1 to get rid of a hacker. LOL...thumbs up to rcdesigns!

  • Nanacy 9 Nov, 2008

    I use a rolodex... it is handy for keeping track of login names/passwords.

  • Nanacy 9 Nov, 2008

    I use a rolodex... it is handy for keeping track of login names/passwords.

  • rcdesigns 9 Nov, 2008

    I use an old small address binder to keep my memory refreshed when I need to. BUT, instead of encryption, I use very old fashioned Pittman's shorthand. Very few people know it these days and it's not on my PC at all.

  • SamCon 9 Nov, 2008

    Also not s "techy" solution, but I use my daily old school planner. my Moleskin has an envelope in the back with an expandable pad of paper-Perfect for storing important names, Christmas gift ideas- whenever they should strike and log ins!

  • jet2step 9 Nov, 2008

    I utilize my Blackberry for passwords in address book and also utilize my Note Pad for odd measurement like airfilters and specific size or measurement it usually forget when I'm out shopping. :)

  • RoyalOwl 9 Nov, 2008

    It might seem non tech but I use a rolodex for all of my ID names and passwords! Redowl.

  • jags6752 9 Nov, 2008

    I agree with simonlise. Same password for all sites - nothing to hide. Except my banking account. That is the only site that has a different password.

  • louiselouiselouise 9 Nov, 2008

    I use 3ID

  • pelican66 9 Nov, 2008

    i keep a list in email under a file called 'passwords and signups' so i can refer to it.......then if something should happen to me all i do is give my email password (which is different from everything else) to the family member who has to access my banking and charge accounts.

  • simonlise 9 Nov, 2008

    I make it extremely easy on myself - same password for everything
    after all using sites such as this one is not like joining the secret service
    who cares if someone can 'see' what I am up to - I've got absolutely
    nothing to hide

  • terriavidreader 9 Nov, 2008

    That spiral notebook has worked for me and husband for over 9 years. It's kinda full now, but better for both os us overall than other systems we've tried.

  • judehannah 9 Nov, 2008

    I use a real address book to write everything down. Really easy to look things up!
    Also, a combination of words and numbers is recommended as a password.

  • ecoeric 9 Nov, 2008

    1Password is a great program ($40) if you have a Mac. It not only stores your passwords, but can generate secure passwords. It also is integrated into your browser of choice so you just have to click an icon to insert your login name and password information. You can try it for free: http://agilewebsolutions.com/products/1Password. (I am in no way associated with the company.)
    It will also sync with your iPhone so you have all your info to go!

  • redcatcher32169 9 Nov, 2008

    i use a small alphabetized spiral notebook, just keep beside puter

  • cam1503 9 Nov, 2008

    I would like more info on creating passwords as mainmoosie said...I've heard about how a couple years ago but have forgotten...I recall they could be very secure if you do it right. Will check back later. Thanks!

  • dcruey 9 Nov, 2008

    My Rolodex beside the computer works great for this.

  • dcruey 9 Nov, 2008

    My Rolodex beside the computer works great for this.

  • inspireME 9 Nov, 2008

    I have a simple journal that I keep by my computer that I store passwords, log-ins

  • mainemoosie 9 Nov, 2008

    i have a system for creating the passwords, so no matter what site i go to, i can almost always figure it out. it is also highly unlikely that anyone could hack in.

  • knittlebittle 9 Nov, 2008

    One word: OpenID.

  • chaddican 9 Nov, 2008

    Since I have occasional "repairmen" from Comcast especially, as well as other home maintenance repairmen I am afraid to put info on a rolodex but I may try to come up with something like that too. For now I have an Excel document with a title non related and a backup copy of the file on an external hard drive. It seems to work for me so far.

  • Hoxiesgirl 9 Nov, 2008

    I have a couple of places that I keep passwords. First, I keep an old-fashioned Rolodex at my computer with passwords, credit cards, basically, stuff I need when I'm sitting at my desk. Lately, as the passwords have accummulated, I am keeping another list stored on my desktop in a folder that is unrelated to the computer or to passwords, such as rental payments, pet list, etc. It works for me.

  • Hoxiesgirl 9 Nov, 2008

    I have a couple of places that I keep passwords. First, I keep an old-fashioned Rolodex at my computer with passwords, credit cards, basically, stuff I need when I'm sitting at my desk. Lately, as the passwords have accummulated, I am keeping another list stored on my desktop in a folder that is unrelated to the computer or to passwords, such as rental payments, pet list, etc. It works for me.

  • aimeejameson 9 Nov, 2008

    My Rolodex works great for this as well...so easy and it's at my fingertips!

  • mychouchou 9 Nov, 2008

    I am really old school. I purchased a "Password Directory" from The Container Store. It is just like an alphabetized address book, but instead of addresses, it is for passwords. I just keep it somewhere secret.

  • ViAnBa 9 Nov, 2008

    So what if you get sick long term or pass away and somebody needs to access your computer? Fingerprint flash drives seem a bit over the top and impractical to me.

  • Tryingsomethingnew 9 Nov, 2008

    I most be old fashioned. I keep a handwritten copy in a fire-proof lock-box.

  • maryannewholman 9 Nov, 2008

    I really like the USB flash drive idea. It's small and can stay with the computer where it goes (laptop). I get really tired of trying to keep passwords straight, and have recently just used the same one (I know, bad, bad, bad).

  • CreativeIndianaMom 9 Nov, 2008

    I went to digital-woman.com and I it has the worst layout I have ever seen. The page is poorly organizled and confusing. . . . and I would consider myself a very computer-saavy person. Bleh.

  • daymom 9 Nov, 2008

    I use a site called digital-woman.com. There is a worksheet you can print off (online accts.) and many other neat things. Print one for each person in the house or the adults and kids seperate.

  • daymom 9 Nov, 2008

    I use a site called digital-woman.com. There is a worksheet you can print off (online accts.) and many other neat things. Print one for each person in the house or the adults and kids seperate.

  • MarthaandMeBlogger 9 Nov, 2008

    I also use a small address book. I include the user name and password for each site or company. When we go on vacation, the address book goes in the safe.

  • califtxn 9 Nov, 2008

    I use an address book. I put the name of each company on the appropriate alphabet page and the pass word I use for that company. It's easy and should someone hack into my computer it is not available to them. I hope I have my computer well protected but I suppose you never know until something happens. I keep my security programs updated and scan on a regular basis. But it seems there are people who seem to want to cause havoc for others and are smart enough to do it unfortunately.

  • carsodie 9 Nov, 2008

    I just name my bookmarks with the name of the site and then my code for my password (such as marthastewart rep# or wamu childhood ph #

  • LavendarLady 9 Nov, 2008

    I've got a chart in my word processing application (protected) that lists all the computer (and other) related passwords, account information that I use in my life. Once a chart is made, you can access it, use it and it is not availbale to anyone else, once protected. Easy and cheap!