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KeePass Password Safe: Lightweight, Yet Powerful Password Manager

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Published on November 16th, 2005
Category: Utilities

If you’re like me, you have a very large number of accounts online. I, myself, have probably 40 accounts. It’s a little scary to think of all that information floating around cyberspace. With many accounts, should be about the same number of different username and password pairs. At the very least, no one should use the same password for every account online. It is dangerous! If that password is compromised, there is almost no limit of what an identity thief can do with it! Many accounts are tied to credit cards, social security numbers, bank accounts, and stock portfolios! Having a many passwords hampers someone from gaining access to this sensitive data.

But how does one keep track of these usernames and passwords? I probably use 10 different usernames and passwords. How do I know where to use each? The answer is simple; I use a password program.


In the past, I’ve used Password Agent. But, it was “crippleware.” Unless I actually bought the software, I would be limited to 20 account entries. As the number of my accounts grew, the closer I was to that 20 limit. Finally, it was time to find an actual free program. In my search, I found KeePass.

Despite the price, it was ten times better then my “crippleware.” It worked exactly the same … but better! Aside from basic password manager functions, there were two that I found noteworthy out of KeePass’s feature list: Security and Ease.

Security
KeePass goes the extra mile when keeping passwords safe. A “master key” password and a separate password file can double encrypt the password database file. The “master key” password is the password that opens the database. The makers of KeePass go a step further by implementing a separate password file. If one gets a hold of the “master key” he will also have to know what the filename of the password file is called and where it is located. Double protection!

Additionally, KeePass employs a workstation lock. Anytime I minimize my KeePass window, it will lock the program and require the master key and the password file again if the window is maximized. KeePass also locks up after a timeout of 15 seconds. That way, if I leave my computer, someone’s prying eyes still will not be able to view my passwords.

Ease
It’s a pain to type my username and password over and over when I visit my regular web sites. Occasionally, I forget which password I use so I have to open my password file and look the record for that account. Then, I type in my login information. KeePass merges these two tasks to make things simpler. When I encounter a login page, all I need to do is open my password file, highlight the account, and select “Perform Auto-type.” KeePass does the rest. If the username is already entered in the web page, it will fill in the password field. If nothing is filled out, KeePass will enter the username and password. After KeePass does these tasks, it goes a step further and presses ENTER for you!

An alternative way to do this is by highlighting the account and select “Copy Password to Clipboard.” Like it says, KeePass copies the password to the clipboard so that it can be pasted in a password field. What it doesn’t say is that the password will stay in the clipboard for only 15 seconds. This goes back to the security feature, another way to safeguard your passwords for “your eyes only.”

Another feature that makes things easier is the task tray icon. KeePass gives the option of running the program in the background via the task tray. This is very handy for me. I’ve configured the program to run and dock to the task tray every time I login to my computer. This way, anytime I need a password, I just click the program, input the master key and password file, and get what I need.

If you are looking for a way to remember passwords and keep them safe, look not further! Try KeePass and comment on your experience with it!


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