I want to tell you a story that happened to me. Perhaps, this will make me look a bit like a fool to half of the people reading this article, but I'm sure it will help the smarter half to learn with my mistakes so they don't have to go through it on their own.
Since I've joined the social media bandwagon, I've been creating profiles on every social website I lay my eyes on, and quite expectedly, I've been a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of login details I have to deal with it. Just to have an idea, I have already registered with 120+ accounts at the time of this writing.
Yes, I know that sounds crazy, but there is a reason for this madness.
These sites present an excellent opportunity for personal branding. The more websites I join, the more opportunities for exposure to different groups of people, not to count all those juicy backlinks to my website which we are pure SEO gold.
So, how was I managing so many usernames and passwords?
At first, I was simply using the same password for all sites. It was a 12 digit reasonably secure string, but it didn't take long for me to want something better.
I can be quite paranoid when it comes to online security and I do have a good reason for that. I've been online almost since the beginning of commercial Internet, I first got online back in 1996, and thanks to my coding background, I do know many of the little dirty secrets hackers use to get into someone's account.
Soon I was assigning individual passwords to each one of my accounts. Remembering all those passwords off the top of my head would be impossible, so I did the best thing and set up a protected spreadsheet, saved locally on my computer hard-drive, containing a list with all my accounts and passwords.
It worked like a charm—for a while. Yes, it was a bit of a pain in the backside to keep opening the spreadsheet, copying passwords, pasting passwords, and well, I'm sure you can picture it was a bit of an extra work, just to keep my accounts safe.
Everything was working great until guess what? My hard-drive went bananas! While I was able to recover all of my work data as I keep a backup on DropBox, guess which file was the only file I kept exclusively on my hard-drive?
If you're following the clues, you must have guessed, the password spreadsheet!
The only reason why I didn't completely freak out about this was because I knew how to recover every single password. I would have to sign up to each website, select the recovery password link and then create a new password.
It would be a huge waste of time, and sometimes, finding the recovery password link on some of these sites is almost like trying to find a needle in a haystack!
This. This was the moment where I landed the most epic facepalm of my life.
So after a few hours of recovering passwords, I got all them back. Since then, I've been experimenting with a couple of password management solutions, LastPass and 1Password. Not sure which I like most yet, but I'll come back with an update.
I hope my story helps you to not make the same mistake I did. If you're online, always remember to use strong passwords and keep them in a safe place.
I would love to hear your password story. Have you had a similar problem? What password tools would you suggest to manage hundreds of passwords?