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Manage your passwords like a pro

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We all know that the best way to protect your online identity to create a different password of random letters, numbers and special characters for each online account.

But, like eating your five a day or flossing your teeth, it often feels like too much of a faff until our bad habits inevitably come back to bite us.

The problem is, having a jumble of letters, numbers and special characters that no-one will ever guess as our password, is that we’ll never be able to remember it. Especially if we need a different one for each of our many digital accounts.

Writing them down in a notebook seems depressingly old-school. And, with the obvious risk of it getting lost or stolen, it doesn’t seem particularly safe either.

I’m ashamed to admit that there was a time when I used the same password for many accounts. For the more sensitive ones, I would make one up on the spot, forget it after a day or two and then click on 'Forgot password' whenever I needed to log in.

At that point, I'd promptly change it to the same password I had for everything to save myself the bother of having to reset it again.

But there is actually a very safe, reliable and grown up solution to this common cyber security issue: use a password manager software.

There are many available but my favourite has to be Dashlane. It encrypts and stores all passwords on your device and you can retrieve them by using a single master password that is never recorded anywhere.

The master password is the only one you need to remember.

Dashlane app in-hand shot

The data can be synchronised across multiple devices and it works on iOS and Android as well as desktop systems. You can even set it to fill in passwords with a fingerprint if your phone has this feature.

Best of all, there’s no need to manually enter all your passwords. Just install the software on each of your devices and whenever you open a website or an app that requires a login it will pop up giving you the option to save your login details.

If you're signing up to something for the first time, it will offer to generate a strong password for you.

It’ll also advise you on which password should be changed and why. And in many cases, you can even update passwords without having to visit the service’s site.

Dashlane screenshot of Amazon

The software features a digital wallet so you can save your payment cards details. And you can store secure notes and personal information too.

Passwords and notes can be shared securely and there’s an emergency contact option so you can nominate a trusted person to access some or all of your data if you’re unable to.

Dashlane screenshot payments and emergency contacts

Dashlane can be installed and used for free. However, a paid subscription is required for syncing across devices. It costs $39.99 (about £30) a year at the time of writing.

You can get Dashlane for your iPhone or iPad.

Apple not your thing? Get Dashlane for Android.

The alternatives

If Dashlane doesn’t do it for you, there are a few other password managers out there that you might want to try.

LastPass

This is one of the most widely used password managers out there. Because of its popularity, a few security breaches have made the front pages, but there’s no evidence that any customer data has ever been compromised.

Got an Android device? Find LastPass in Google Play Store.

Or, if you're an Apple user, you can also get LastPass for your iPhone or iPad.

1Password

You can securely save passwords for you and your family. There's also a brand-new and very handy travel mode, which will remove all your sensitive data from your device when you're on holiday. So if you lose your phone on the beach, your sensitive data will still be safe.

Tempted? Get 1Password from Apple's App Store.

Or, if you've got an Android device, you can get 1Password from Google Play Store.

iCloud Keychain

Apple’s own attempt at a password manager has a very limited set of features. There’s no compatibility with other devices, which is a pain if you’ve got a PC laptop or Android phone.

And if you want to store passwords for Apple services, such as iTunes or iCloud, you’ll have to store your password with the same company. Which isn’t exactly ideal.

To use iCloud Keychain, simply go to Settings, select iCloud and hit Keychain.

Google password

If you have a Google account chances are you are using it already. But it has the same disadvantage as Apple’s iCloud, in that you’ll be storing Google your passwords within your Google account, but it’s compatible across all devices.

You can access this password manager through your Google account.

Category: Guides
Tagged: smartphones

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