Welcome to the eighteenth installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.
Header by Rory Midhani
feature image via Shutterstock
The internet requires us to possess 89 billion and a half individual passwords to exist in our digital age. Creating said passwords can feel a little bit like jumping through three flaming hoops whilst singing opera on the back of a dolphin. And of course none of them can be the same, because crazy internet thievery hijinks.
And then what happens when you forget a password? Sometimes they’re easy to reset, but often it feels like your aforementioned dolphin now has one fin and a bad attitude. And you’ve been blindfolded. And you’re being shot with paintball guns. In short, sometimes it’s hard to reset a password, so we might do better to just not forget them at all. Impossible, right? Wrong!
There are almost as many ways to make your computer remember your password for you as there are passwords you have to remember. You could always go the way of encrypting a spreadsheet, but there are fancier ways. Even easier ways. And here are a few of them.
Platforms: Mac, Windows, iOS and Android
1Password is made by AgileBits, which I like as a company name because it sounds a little sexual. It has a desktop version and a mobile version that sync together using Dropbox (or not, the choice is yours). It has a browser extension for Safari, Chrome and Firefox that will ask you when you want to remember a log-in and password in your database. Then you only have to remember one password to access the entire database! The browser extensions also allow you to autofill passwords and even generate secure ones so you don’t wind up using 123password for every site you sign up with.
Pros: They’ve got a free trial. The software also allows you to save credit card and bank account information for easy access. It’s gorgeous and they have great support. The information lives on your computer unless you choose for it to sync via dropbox, meaning that your information isn’t out in the ether somewhere. And I’ve used this software for two years and I’m never looking back, so this has my personal stamp of approval.
Cons: After the free trial ends, this software costs $49.99 for the Mac or Windows versions, and that’s not even including the price for the mobile apps, making it the most expensive solution I’m presenting today. Also no Linux version. Sorry y’all.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Blackberry and even a USB Drive.
Roboform works a whole hell of a lot like 1Password. Here, I’ll let the cute robot do the explaining.
Pros: The upfront cost of the Windows and Mac versions of the software are less than the upfront cost of 1Password ($29.99). The USB version is $10 more than that. Plus this runs on a lot of platforms, including Linux. But the best deal by far is the Roboform Everywhere option – 1 license for all your devices for $9.95 your first year ($19.95 all subsequent years), which includes unlimited syncing.
Cons: There’s no support for Chrome on a Mac. And those yearly fees are just that – you pay them every year, instead of just once.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, and several mobile interfaces such as iOS, Android and Blackberry.
This isn’t a desktop app like 1Password or Roboform. This is all cloud-based, online storage and entirely controlled through a browser extension. But the idea is the same – one password, forever more. It also has the same secure password generator that the others do.
Pros: This solution is entirely free. There is a premium version, but the free version is pretty darn feature rich. This is also one of the most popular solutions out there. It also runs on a lot of platforms and syncs automatically. Yup. Completely free syncing.
Cons: This one might be a bit anxiety-inducing, as it had a pretty large, pretty public security breach in 2011.
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, plus tons of apps for Android and iOS.
Description: This is the open source solution of the bunch! It has a whole page of possible extensions/plug-ins/bookmarklets.
Pros: Hey hey, open source! If you’re a programmer, you can view the source code and make tweaks or even design your own app or bookmarklet that works with KeePass.
Cons: …it’s a little ugly. And by a little ugly, I mean a lot ugly. I’m a design kinda girl, so this is important to me. And it’s not as feature heavy as the other options.
Also, for those that have trouble coming up with passwords stronger than 1234qwerty or who don’t actually know what makes a password strong or weak, the website passwordmeter.com has a nifty formula calculating the strength of your password and telling you what’s good or bad about it :)
Yeah…I just use the same 2 passwords for everything. I guess that’s bad. Also Chrome sometimes offers to remember my passwords for me, but not always. Anyone know what’s up with that?
I’ve been using LastPass for a couple years now, and my only complaint is that it’s ONLY free for the desktop versions.
Sure, the desktop versions are incredibly feature-rich, but being able to use the Android/iOS/Blackberry/Symbian/Windows Mobile/WebOS versions is apparently one of those “premium features” which requires a yearly subscription.
Their subscription cost *is* the least expensive of the options reviewed here (at a standard price of $12 per year) so that’s at least something to recommend them above the others’ premium versions — and since it’s cloud-based, you’re looking at the equivalent of “all your devices” anyway.
When I need something super secure, I use a pattern password of words, with some letters replaced with random numbers and symbols– and the trick to remembering it is to use a visual pattern on your keyboard. Fancy!
I tend to use old reference number for airline flights or tickets to things that I’ve memorized. They’re always complicated and I’ve needed to remember them anyways!
I’ve very suspicious of things that offer to remember my passwords for me though, I don’t know how I feel about it. I never click yes to any of it and always enter everything manually. Too many people I know can’t remember their passwords because everything remembers it for them!
I usually use a lyric from a song.
For personal use, I use PasswordSafe, which supports Windows and Android (I don’t know about iPhone or Mac since I don’t use either) and there are some free clients available for Linux.
At work, several groups use Keepass. It does have some features which others lack and are very useful for multi-user environments, i.e. the ability to synchronize changes so one user’s updates don’t overwrite another’s.
A friend of mine put me on to 1Password a couple of years ago and I must admit I’ve never looked back. I didn’t have to pay that much for it – watch Lifehacker or your fave tech site cos they have 1/2 price offers periodically so you can get it cheaper.
LastPass is pretty great, I love it. And seriously, $1 a month for the premium service is a bargain.