Managing passwords with KeePass 2 and Dropbox

I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I have way too many login names and passwords too keep track of. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone pull up a Word document and scroll down a list 40 miles long to try to find the right username and password for a particular site. Often as well, I’ll see someone rummaging around their office trying to find the CD envelope or printed receipt on which they have jotted down their information. Everyone knows that the computer was invented to reduce this clutter and make such things easier. The major problem I have found is that computers simply aren’t normally that reliable. No one wants to consolidate all of their most important and sensitive information into such a temperamental and hackable environment.

In response to that situation, I have been using a system that has worked very well for me and has made managing and using my logins very easy. To start, I enter all of my information into an encrypted KeePass 2 database. This is a very well designed application which makes it very easy to organize and find credentials for massive amounts of sites, applications, and even licenses. One of the features I like the most is the ability to double-click the URL stored in a credential entry (ie. which opens up in my default browser. I then double-click the username, paste it in the login form, double-click the password, paste it in the login form and I’m good to go! On top of that, KeePass automatically clears the clipboard within a few seconds so that no one will be able to just paste my password after I’m gone.

“Why not just rely on the browser to store my passwords?” you may ask. Ah, I’m glad you may have asked. While I do this as well, I find that it is still very helpful to have the password stored in a discrete file that I can manage myself. This allows me to place it in Dropbox, Google Drive, or my Mesh SkyDrive. This satisfies the need to have the critical information backed up as soon as possible after changes are made. It also allows me to share it with others. This makes it cross platform. I frequently access my KeePass database on my HTC Thunderbolt via Dropbox. While Chrome will share my stored passwords with other computers, it still doesn’t share with my phone’s browser. This also means I will have easy access to my credentials no matter what browser I use. Sometimes I am forced to use Firefox for instead of my usual Chrome. Another reason is that browsers don’t have nearly as nice of an interface for simply looking up your information at a moment’s notice. What if you need to type the password for your secondary Facebook into a mobile device? Staring at the masked password in your browser isn’t helpful.

KeePass also has several features which enable the average user to maintain very high security with their passwords. You can set expirations for certain passwords and have a very secure password generated automatically. Most people use the same password for almost everything and never change it. Using KeePass instead of a Word Doc makes using a 70 character password no more difficult to change and use than a 6 character password. I use this system with all of my customers. I never have to ask them what the new password is because I have an updated version of the database available to me. They never have to worry about getting a hold of me if a password has changed because they know it is stored in the KeePass database. They also have peace of mind because the database is stored and updated automatically on all of their devices and the cloud.

As I mentioned earlier, KeePass is also very useful for storing software licenses for the average user. I use it to manage my own software serial such as for Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

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