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I was visiting a friend recently and as we logged into various accounts he had created on all the typical Web services like Twitter, Google,  Netflix,  Apple,  and Amazon,  he had a bit of a problem remembering which passwords he had used for what services (and it gets worse when some of these make you add a number or you forget you used upper case instead  of lower case…which usually matters with passwords).

Although there are a number of web services and local applications that help you manage passwords,  I want to suggest (and it’s just that :  a suggestion) that you implement some sort of personal password storage to help you through those times when the passwords become a bit too much to remember,  espeically when you find yourself returning to a site you don’t use often.

My system is to create a folder,  down deep so it’s not as easy as seeing a “Passwords” directory on my C drive.  I have a folder of a certain name,  under another I call another name,  with more folders under  that for each service,  and a text file with the names and passwords,  which I also code with things like “usual” for username ,  so I’m not giving the user name directly to unwanted, intruding eyes.  And comcastmail or gmail  for my email/username,  and then I have another oft-used keyword that I combine with various first letters and the ‘initials” of the particular site to which this name/password belongs.  So I have some letters ,  lets say mine are mba (this stands for my blog article,  since that’s what I’m now doing,  but my actual phrase is something else entirely,  that I use on every site,  and I follow that with the Upper case letters of the “initials” of that site  — like A for Amazon,  followed by a non-alpha/non-numeric special char,  then  my “usual” word,  first letter capped,  and then a number or symbol.  I put this password in the text file ,  under the name/user which I designate as “usual” or comcast – if my username is my email.  If my username is something  else,  like usual + 1  I’ll store that.

Depending on how safe you feel storing these this way,  I often just put the actual password.   YOu may be able to zip the dir in its hidden location,  and create a password for the zipped password storage.  Another way is  to keep this on a USB drive ,  but that seems a bit more risky to me.  But if its kept at home,  that may not be an  issue.  I keep it on my laptop,  so someone would have  to steal my laptop and find my hidden dir,  and even then they’d run into roadblocks with my “usuals” and such.  I go back and amned/edit these when needed,  usually because  I’ve found myself without these files — like  when I’m remote somewhere w/o my laptop — and have to resort to resetting my password if there is no “hint” method available.  Most sites won’t just send the password,  but email  a temp password and make you change it when you login with it.

If I find myself getting  comfortable with one of the apps for this purpose,  I’ll pass that  along.  How about  you?  Do you have some user login methods for storing or remembering  passwords?  I know many people use the same everywhere,  but I hope you know how unsecure that can be.  Tell us your ideas (but of course,  don’t reveal too much.  Be abstract and  non-specific).

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