Digital Declutter Day 24: Logins

Welcome back to the Digital Declutter Challenge. Yesterday we worked on closing unused internet accounts. I hope you had success terminating a few that you no longer need! Today we are going to look at how to manage the required login information for the accounts you chose to maintain.

In this digital world, it seems we need to have a login and password to do almost everything:

  • Bank
  • Read an article
  • Buy tickets
  • Make an appointment
  • Buy a product or service
  • Send a gift

We’ve gone from a lifestyle with almost no passwords to an environment where most people have thirty, forty, fifty or more. Things are further complicated by the need for passwords that are complex, consisting of a combination of letters, numbers and characters. Even more, we are encouraged to regularly change our passwords to ensure the highest level of security. This is a lot to manage!

There are multiple ways to manage your login and password information. Regardless of which system you choose, it is wise to make sure that at least one person you trust has access to your information should anything happen to you.

Here are a few options for creating a safe and complete record of your login information:

Paper Record

For those who prefer paper, designate a non-descript pad or journal where you will keep a record of your passwords. A smart approach is to make a table where you list the category (e.g. banking, travel, medical), website address, login and password. If you use this method, it is wise to keep this document in a locked drawer or fire safe box. In addition, it is smart to periodically make a copy of this document and keep it in a separate location (e.g. a safety deposit box) so you have access to it should the original become lost, damaged or stolen. Needless to say, having one document lying around with all of your password and login information is vulnerable to theft and misuse, so be wise about where you keep it.

 

Computerized Record

If you are comfortable with the computer, but don’t like having your password information in the cloud, create a spreadsheet or table in a document on your computer to hold the relevant information. As with the paper version, make a table where you list the category (e.g. banking, travel, medical), website address, login and password. For security, consider restricting access to this document and naming it something that obscures its contents  (i.e. not  “Password and Login Summary”). Additionally, periodically print this out and keep it in a safe location (e.g. a fire safe box or safety deposit box.)

 

Cloud-Based Password Manager

For those who want to have access to websites from multiple locations, a cloud-based password manager such as LastPass or Dashlane is a good solution. These services charge a small fee, but provide strong security and flexibility. You set up one “master password” to gain entry, and then you can access all of your passwords from any location. Password managers continue to improve their services, offering easy importing, auto-generation, secure sharing, and two-factor authentication (among other things). Since these services store and will auto-fill your information, they allow you to have very complicated (i.e. secure) passwords without your needing to remember it all.

 

Need a little comic relief as you think about all of this? Check out some vintage Jimmy Kimmel:

*****

Having a safe and secure method for keeping track of your passwords is important not only for easing daily life, but also for protecting your identity and digital legacy. If you have passwords stuck on notes that are taped on your computer screen or stashed in a drawer at your desk, today is the day to put a better system in place.

Could you improve the way you manage your login and password information?