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10 Free Ways to Track All Your Passwords

10 Free Ways to Track All Your Passwords

With the proliferation of web services — there’s a new one out each day, it seems — it feels like we’re always creating new accounts, each with a different username and password.

The easy options — using the same password each time or writing them down on paper or in a spreadsheet — aren’t exactly the most secure. In fact, security experts strongly warn against these options as they leave you vulnerable to online theft.

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So what’s a web surfer to do? If you’ve got more than a dozen services, you’re not going to remember all of them. It’s time to look into a password manager — and if you’re a cheapskate like me, you want a free one.

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Let’s agree, from here on in, to stop using our dog’s name and birth date for our single password. Here are 10 free options for doing that:

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  • Firefox or IE: Both popular browsers offer fairly secure ways of storing your username or passwords for different sites, once you enter them the first time. This is very handy, and can save a ton of time. Unfortunately, under certain conditions, the password could be lost, requiring you to enter the password again. And if you’ve been relying on the browser to remember the password, you’re out of luck. Also, this solution is only for online passwords, not for network or desktop passwords.
  • KeePass: One of the most popular password managers out there, KeePass is great because it’s open-source, free and cross-platform — available for Windows, Linux, OS X, and even mobile devices. It keeps all your passwords, online and off, in a secure database, so you only have to remember one master password. Be sure that master password is safe!
  • Clipperz: Unlike most password managers, this solution is online — so you can access it anywhere. And it stores more than passwords — credit card numbers, account numbers, anything really. Storing passwords and other confidential information online can make someplace nervous, but Clipperz uses an encryption method that means not even Clipperz knows what it’s storing. This is a good solution if you need access to your passwords from multiple computers, rather than just one or two.
  • OSX Keychain: If you use a Mac, you’re most likely familiar with Keychain, which comes with OSX. Basically, it’s a password manager that uses your OSX admin password as the master password.
  • KeyWallet: Windows only, this little utility sits in your system tray, and you just pull it up when you need to enter a password. As a utility, it is browswer-independent, which is ideal for some.
  • Password Manager Plus: The Billeo Free Password Manager Plus toolbar works with both Firefox and Internet Explorer, and allows you to store not only passwords but credit card numbers and online account information, and can autofill your information as you shop online or paying bills, for example.
  • Password Hasher: This Firefox extension generates strong passwords for you by scrambling your master password with the site’s name. The passwords generated by this extension are better than any you could come up with yourself.
  • PasswordSafe: This free online service works on any modern web browser, for any OS, and a desktop version is available for Windows or Mac. Basically, it uses an encrypted safe to store your passwords, along with other information including software keys, website logins, pin numbers, email logins and more.
  • Password generator: This is a little bookmarklet that combines your master password with the site’s name to create a stronger password, and one that is different for each site. Very handy and simple.
  • Algorithm: The best solution may not even be a technology solution — remembering strong passwords could be as simple as coming up with a way to change a base password using the name of the online service you’re logging into. For example, if you come up with a base password of “xlg519” (based on your partner’s initials and your cat’s birthday), you can add the first two and last two letters of a service’s name (“amon” for Amazon) and you’ve got your password!

Some notes on passwords:

  • Never give out your master password if you use a password manager. Be sure you never forget it.
  • Don’t write passwords on a little piece of paper and stick it in your drawer. If it gets stolen, you only have yourself to blame.
  • Password managers may not be safe on a shared computer — it is probably best to only install them on a computer that only you use.
  • Using common information for your password is not secure — such as your birthday, initials, kids’ birthdays, names, etc. And no, “password” is not a safe password.
  • Using the same password for everything is a bad idea, because once that password is discovered, a thief has access to all your accounts.
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More by this author

Leo Babauta

Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

This is why setting priorities is so important.

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3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

1. Eat a Frog

There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

2. Move Big Rocks

Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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3. Covey Quadrants

If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and Not Urgent
  3. Not Important but Urgent
  4. Not Important and Not Urgent

    The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

    Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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    You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

    Getting to Know You

    Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

    In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

    These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

    More Tips for Effective Prioritization

    Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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