What a password manager is and why it’s a good idea

Having a strong, complicated and unique password for each of your online accounts is super important, but also super difficult if you’re relying on remembering all of those passwords yourself. Writing them down is an option, but there are lots of caveats with that, which I explain here. Writing passwords down is only a good idea if you only need them in the house, never when you’re on the move or at work, and if you completely trust everyone you live with.

Enter password managers. Password managers act like a vault: you just need to remember one complicated password (do make it a good one!) for the password manager itself, and then you store all of your other passwords in the ‘vault’. This means you can have incredibly long, complicated passwords that offer high levels of security and you don’t need to try to remember them. You can use the password manager to suggest new passwords for you and they generally have copy and paste features so you don’t even have to type the password out when you go to log in to a site. Password managers also allow you to sync your passwords across your devices and so they are available to you when you’re on the go. Finally, password managers make it really effortless to change a password, which comes in handy when a site gets breached and you realise you were using an old password there which you may have used elsewhere.

People understandably worry about the idea of putting all of their eggs in one basket, and trusting a password manager with all of their login details. However, we know that there is no such thing as perfect security, it’s all about getting the right balance. Currently, too many people are in the position of reusing the same one or two weak passwords for all of their accounts because it is impossible to remember so many different, complicated passwords. A password manager, protected with one very strong password, offers much greater security than this. Don’t just take my word for it, see what the UK Government’s NCSC has to say on the matter, too.

So, hopefully I’ve convinced you to look into getting a password manager. They’re easy to set up and will make your online life easier and more secure. You’re may be wondering which one to use: three that are commonly recommended are 1Password, Dashlane and KeePass.

By Dr Jessica Barker