Password Managers

I’ve posted this before on a different site but I felt it was important enough to mention again here. Below is the original post, with some minor editing.

Everyone, for the most part, uses the web for almost anything these days; online banking, email, online school, social networking, and so much more. Every time you use one of these services you are required to create a username and password. Over time, your accumulation of accounts can begin to stack up and keeping track of those accounts becomes a hassle. I’ve even noticed over the years that after all the sites I use consistently, the number of accounts has grown beyond control; last count was well over twenty unique accounts.

The most important part of creating these accounts we forget is security. Writing down the information on a piece of paper to keep next your computer is not secure. What we fail to realize is that information is easily available to everyone that visits your home. A password manager application is perfect for this type of information.

The function of a password manager is to store all of your accounts in a database and then secure the database by a master password so that you only have to remember that one password instead of many. Along with this advantage, it ensures that you don’t forget the password to an account, just in case you lose that piece of paper.

I personally use KeePass Password Safe that I originally found from the Portable Apps suite of applications. The advantage I found with this application, at first, was so that I could keep my secured password database with me everywhere I went on a USB thumb drive on my key chain. But then mobile applications came out on mobile devices, like the iPhone and Android phones, which allowed me to install the KeePass mobile version on my Andorid phone to keep with me at all times. I then use Wuala mobile application on my phone to sync my password database between all my devices (laptop, desktop, mobile phone, etc). This way I have all my passwords available to me always.

There are plenty of alternative password managers out there to choose from. To tell you the truth, any password manager with good security encryption is recommended to help you keep track, and secure, of all those accounts you use day to day.

Dropbox Lies About Security

In my last post regarding Backing Up Your Data I had recommended using Dropbox as a tool to backup your data. I feel it may be necessary to point you to an article I recently came across on Wired’s web site that indicated some interesting findings regarding the security of your data while using Dropbox. The article is titled Dropbox Lied to Users About Data Security, Complaint to FTC Alleges and can be found here.

Since reading this article I decided to try the backup software mentioned in that article called Wuala. It’s basically a backup service identical to Dropbox. The most important difference, however, is that Wuala claims to be completely secure. Installation and configuration of the Wuala software was really simple. And, just like Dropbox, I also have access to my files remotely on their web site after providing my account information. Here is a brief video, also provided on Wuala’s website, describing their software and service.

YouTube Preview Image

I will continue to use Dropbox in some scenarios where I am not too worried about securing my data. But I can tell you I will definitely be switching to Wuala in cases where I need to securely sync my sensitive data between my computers.

Backing Up Your Data

On many occasions I have written about backing up your personal data (pictures, documents, videos, etc.) on my personal blog and other technology blogs and forums. I figured this is the perfect topic to start off this Tech Tips blog. You may ask, “why are you writing about it again then?”. My reason is this that no matter how many times you talk about it or suggest or recommend it, people will still ignore you. I figure if I continue to mention backups it’ll eventually hit home. Unfortunately for a few people I know, it took one incident of them losing their family pictures or work files before they finally listened to me.

Here’s the deal, straight and simple: The hardware that is in your computer right now, the hard drive, will fail. It will break down and be unusable. That means that all the files you have on that hard drive will be trapped with no way of getting to it. It will be lost. Don’t rely on that hard drive to always be available. We buy insurance for cars, homes and other property in case of a disaster. Think of data backups as an insurance policy in case of disaster to your hardware.

Now that I have preached the gospel of backing up, here’s how you do it. In previous years, the simplest way to back up was to buy a USB thumb drive or external USB hard drive and copy over your data to this external drive once or twice a week. I still recommend this method as a second option. Now in recent years, there are online solutions that will do this for you automatically without you having to remember to backup once or twice a week. These services will automatically backup your data every time you create or change a file. A few I recommend all depends on the amount (size) of data you currently have on your computer. Most of them are free to use, again, depending on the amount of data you have. The first I recommend is Dropbox as they offer 2GB of free storage to try. The others I recommend are IDrive and Spideroak as they also offer free storage once you sign up. The reason I recommend Dropbox is because it is really simple to use and it allows syncing the same files from one computer to another, if you have more than one computer. Basically, Dropbox has a lot of flexibility. IDrive and Spideroak are pretty simple to use also but there is no syncing between the computers. All of them have an application that you will need to download and install on your computer so that the online service will know what files on your computer it needs to backup online.

When I preach the gospel of backing up I am trying to save you from the headache of losing money, time and precious data. The loss of money can be in the form of you requesting someone like me to attempt to retrieve the data from your broken hard drive that usually comes at a high price. The loss of time can come from the same task and from the data you have created over time. And, of course, the loss of precious data could be from all those family pictures and videos over the years, or all those work spreadsheets you had been working on for hours.

I say all that to simply say this: backup your data.

If you need more assistance with data storage, please contact me for a brief free consultation. I can help you with the task of backing up your data.

Subscription Update

I believe I have fixed the kink, as mentioned in previous post. Once you subscribe to the RSS feed of your choice on the right there should be a title included. Also, I’ve added email subscription if you prefer to have my posted tips sent to you via email.

Thanks for subscribing.

RSS Subscription

If you’ll notice on the right, I have some icon buttons to subscribe to Twitter and to RSS feeds. Be aware that as of this moment that if you subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog it will show as “Title Unknown”. I am still working on this kink.

Keep checking back as I will be posting when this is fixed. Also, RSS email subscription will be available in the future, just as soon as I fix that kink.

Technology Tips

I’ve decided to add a new feature to this site. Visiting this section in the near future you will be able to find various technology tips that will help you use and understand technology a little bit more.

Come back soon.