Password managers and why you should be using one

Let me ask you some questions:

  • Do you have that one account that you only have to log into once in a blue moon, and you pretty much always have to reset the password?
  • Do any of your accounts use the same password?
  • Do you have any of your passwords written down somewhere or typed out in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet or some other similar list?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then using a password manager may benefit you.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is an program that digitally and securely stores your login information for various accounts. Using just a single “master password,” you can access the login information for any and all of your stored accounts witout having to know every account’s information.

Why use a password manager?

Security

The most important benefit of a password manager is security. If you have your passwords written down somewhere, then it is more likely someone may accidentally (or intentionally) find out how to access your accounts; additionally, if they’re written down, they can be lost or destroyed. If you have more than one account using the same password, if that password is discovered or stolen, the theif could gain access to many of your accounts. Using a password manager allows you to securely store your passwords, have convenient access to them, and also lets you generate more complex and secure passwords without the need to memorize them.

Simplicity

Security is important. But the extra-nice thing about a password maanger is the simplicity. Instead of having to remember of the logon information for many accounts, you can simply remember a single “master password.” Some password managers even support web browser add-ons/extensions that will auto-fill your login information into a webpage after you enter your master password.

My recommended solution

Bitwarden is a fantastic and free option for a password manager. I have been using Bitwarden for several years and love it. The solution is open-source, free, and supported on the many platforms and browsers listed below.

Operating systems: Windows | macOS | Linux | Android | iOS

Browsers: Edge | Chrome | Opera | Firefox | Tor | Vivaldi | Brave | Safari

Additionally, Bitwarden features web-based access via the web portal and also has powerful command-line tools (CLI) to create and execute scripts against your Bitwarden Vault.

Web portal access to your Bitwarden Vault

With Bitwarden, securing your online accounts is as simple as creating a free account, setting your master password, and entering the information you’d like to store. If you’re like me and had all your login info in an Excel spreadsheet, then you’re in luck, because Bitwarden supports the import of .CSV files to making your setup process breeze by quickly.

Other neat stuff Bitwarden supports includes: locally hosting it on your own server instead of cloud hosted, it supports multi-factor authentication and is compatible with the Yubico YubiKey (a review on that to come), a password generator, configuration for auto-fill on websites, and the ability to store more than passwords securely–including secure notes, credit card information, and identity information. And so much more.

Available on every major platform and cloud-accessible, Bitwarden is a fast, convenient, and free solution to enhance your online security and make your life easier.

Other Options

Bitwarden is fantastic, but it won’t be for everyone. That’s why competition exists! Here are some additional options for you to check out:

Bringing it all together

Regardless of which solution you choose, a password manager is crucial to increasing your online security–unless you can just memorize every single password you have. Combining a password manager with some form of multi-factor authentication provides a high degree of security while also making life more convenient by requiring you to only remembe a single master password. If you haven’t tried a password manager, don’t delay! Try one today.

Have you used a password manager before? If so, what was it and what were your thoughts? Have you had other issues or complaints about memorizing passwords? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Calling Home for the Holidays

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many families will not be able to gather in person as they normally would whether due to financial situation, health concerns, travel restrictions, etc. It is important to take time to connect with family and friends, even if you do it from afar. Here are some options available to help you and your loved ones connect digitally via audio/video this holiday season
while distant.

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays

‘Cause no matter how far away you roam

If you want to be a happy in a million ways

For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home

There really is no place like home for the holidays. Unfortunately, home sweet home might not be a physical, in-person reality this season. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc for many families medically, financially, and otherwise, many are opting to postpone or avoid family gatherings due to concers with the health of relatives, or due to quarantine. But family is the most important thing, and being able to be with one another especially during the holiday season is important, so in this brief blog post, let’s take a look at some of the options available for remotely and virtually gathering your family together this holiday season.

If you can’t be face-to-face in person, still being able to see each other is the next best thing! Here are some options for video calling services that are free.

Jitsi Meet

Jitsi Meet is a free online video meeting solution that offers video calling and screen sharing. Not only is it free, but you don’t even have to make an account or download any software to use it! Just create a meeting name, start your call, and have others join. Jitsi Meet offers HD audio and video, unlimited free access for up to 50 participants at a time, end-to-end encryption, multi-screen sharing, remote control, and other neat integrations as well. Not only is it available in your web browser on your computer, but Jitsi Meet also has Android and iOS apps as well. I personally use Jitsi a lot, and highly recommend it.

Download for Android | Download for iOS

Google Duo

Google Duo is another free online video calling solution. Duo is available in a web browser on your computer, and also has apps for Android and iOS as well. If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to make a free account which only takes a few minutes. It features one-on-one calling, group calling, and end-to-end encryption as well as a variety of fun features. Duo also integrates with Google smart products and is built-in to many Android devices already. I’ve used Duo on several occasions, and do not have any major complaints.

Download for Android | Download for iOS

Facebook’s Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger platform recently launched a new feature called “Messenger Rooms,” a video calling solution different than their existing group video call functionality. While you can still create a group message in the Messenger app and begin a video call, now you can create a video call “room” with a shareable link. Friends and family can join your call via the link–even if they don’t have a facebook account. With a wide variety of other fun and functional features, Messenger is definitely a viable option for gathering your loved ones virtually. Messenger is available on Android, iOS, and Windows 10 from the Microsoft Store.

Download for Android | Download for iOS | Download for Windows 10

Apple’s FaceTime

FaceTime is perhaps one of the most well-known video calling applications in existence and is a functional solution for up to 32 participants, though everyone has to have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer. If your family isn’t entirely in the Apple ecosystem, this might not necessarily be the solution for you. Despite that, friendly features such as Animoji, stickers, and integration with iMessage–all without a subscription–make this another great option for some people.

Download for iOS

For the technologically agnostic…

And don’t forget: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply picking up the telephone to have a phone conversation with loved ones, or even writing a letter. Because home isn’t necessarily a house, a dining room table, or living room with a Christmas tree. Home is where your heart is, and connecting with your friends and family from afar whether by video, phone, or in writing, can help you be home for the holidays.

What is the holiday season looking like for your and your loved ones this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Wishing you each the merriest of holiday seasons and a safe and happy new year.