Tech Tips for Moms: My Secret Method for Managing Online Logins

By March 6, 2011General

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(For the next few Mondays I’m going to share a few foundational tech tips that I think all moms can benefit from knowing.)

My System

As a former web geek (I used to be a web developer) I find that I have dozens….scores….perhaps as many as a hundred “accounts” at different sites. It used to be SUCH a headache to manage all of them. I made frequent use of the “Forgot Your Password” link until I came up with what I consider to be a tried and true system.

Username

For normal web surfers, one username for all sites is probably fine. If you want an added bit of security go ahead and use a second one for more sensitive sites (bank, paypal etc.)

I tend to use two standard usernames. These usernames are based on whether I’m using the site for personal use or blog use. Depending on the site I’m at or the specific account I’m trying to log into, I can easily figure out which username is applicable.

Password

Now, for the password. This is where people get into trouble. Either they use the same password for all sites (bad…bad…idea) or they use truly random ones and never have a clue what their password is when arrive at a login screen.

If you fit into either of those groups, today is your day to rejoice (go ahead…rejoice) because I’m going to share my system with you and I hope it will simplify your web life immensely.
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My Secret System

Here’s my secret…I use the same password for every site. (gasp) EXCEPT, I change it based on certain specifications of the site I’m on. For example, let’s say my base password is “butterscotch” and I’m creating an account at yahoo.com. I decide on a certain spot where I input information from yahoo.com so that each password on each site is unique.

A simple version would be to make my password be “butterscotchya5″.

What I did was take my base password, added on the first two letters of the site name — YA — AND added the number of letters in the site name — 5. Make sense?

So now, whenever I visit a site I know that my password is going to be “butterscotch” PLUS the first two letters of the site name PLUS the number of letters in the site name. As a result I have a relatively secure, alphanumeric password that is really easy to remember (or at least figure out) for every site I visit.

Make it more secure

Now, if you’re a security nerd like I tend to be, your base word can be a “made up word” that would be difficult to separate from the rest of your formula….like “huplkst” and then you could add variable from the site name into your base password at more random intervals…like the 3 and 5 letters and add the number at the beginning….like this “5huYpAlkst.” In addition, you can change your system on a regular basis (as long as you’re willing to update all the sites.)

Make It Even Easier

To make it even easier you can use a password app like 1Password or Roboform to auto enter your passwords so you only have to figure them out when you’re at a different computer.

Still Awake?

With this process I’m never searching through emails or word documents trying to find passwords to sites. And I know that no matter where I am or what computer I am using, I know how to quickly log into any site I need to use. I can also feel relatively confident that my passwords are secure.

If you’re not asleep yet after reading this post….congratulations…all two of you.

Question: Have you ever found remember logins and passwords to be a hassle? Do you have a system?

This post is part of WFMW.

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Comments

25 Comments

  • Your password system is very much like mine, but I think yours is even simpler. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar Catherine says:

    Oh my goodness, you may have just changed my life. Seriously. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Avatar Carla says:

    This is a great tip! At work tonight we were talking about the number of password and login names we need just to access things at work, nevermind outside of work. There were at least 10 different login names and passwords that we needed, with eachone requiring a different password type. Uggh! This will definitly simplify things for me! Thanks!

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I have actually had “research a password app” on my “to-do list” and now I don’t even need to research it! And I have always had a hard time remembering all my passwords so now I need to add “reset passwords” on my “to-do list” based on this method…seriously very helpful 🙂

  • isn’t it crazy how many services you use on line require and account of some kind! Just off the top of my head I can think of at least 8-10 that I use on a regular basis from blogs to social media to my business (vistaprints and paypal) and personal fun stuff like shutterfly, walgreens, pandora, etc. etc…..oh, it IS difficult to remember them all. i like your system – i may have to try that out.

    I have a hand written log of all my accounts that I have (in alpha order) that I can quicly reference to if I forget one. I don’t write out the complete password – just enough to jog my memory.

    thanks for sharing!
    ~h

  • I need to better protect my accounts with new passwords.

    Another tip – you should really change your passwords every 90 days. If you use a number within it, just add one to the number each time you change it.

  • This sounds like a good system. I used to work for a company that had multiple logins and password possibilities. Luckily they had a system syncronizer that would synch all your passwords and prompt you to change it once a month. It was a bugger to keep it all figured out. I would do something similar to what you did, except I would pick a word, for example, Summer and and the number 1. And next month I would change it to Summer2, etc.
    I also kept an odd randomly named word document that had login info, but if someone were to be looking for a file to find passwords, they would never know to look!
    I like your system and may consider how I can begin to implement!
    Bernice

  • I’m married to the computer geek, who has a great system that I cannot explain. My own system is similar to yours but on the low end: I have two passwords, no, make that 3. One’s transliterated from Russian, so that’s for my email and it’s about glory to God. One’s very easy, common, with numbers for words (2,4,8) In one instance an extra number was required to fill the password minimum, on a food site, so I used 8 for ate.
    I learn well from geeks! When I was in college in the age before everyone had computers but there was a computer lab, everyone using vi, I never took a class but just learned the basics from my techie boyfriend (now hubby) and asked questions when something didn’t work.

  • Avatar Tammy says:

    Lastpass is an excellent free program too. It will create passwords, memorize, and has apps for smartphones too.

  • Avatar Donnetta says:

    With passwords both at home and at work, these are great tips. Another tip I use is to capitalize some or a variety of the letters in the password.

    I may evaluate all of my passwords and think about going back and changing some based on your tips here. Thanks!

    My system has been to just type in my password each time I enter a site. That way I never forget what it is for that site. It may seem tedious for some but it has worked for me.

  • Avatar renee says:

    Loved this post, but can you tell me (in layman’s terms) why it is bad to use the same password for every site? I use the same one all the time and thought I was being clever!

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Renee,
      It’s not a good idea because if anyone (unscrupulous site owner, hacker etc.) figures out your password they’ll try it on all the common sites and find they can access ALL of your information with ease.

  • Avatar Kara says:

    I already have so many passwords that I’ve created in such a random mess of an order, with absolutely NO LOGIC at all…kind of depending on what cartoon our kids may have been watching at the very moment I was creating an account….that….the only thing that works for me is to keep them all in a small “address” book.

    I just file them by “site name” and under it write my password, username etc.

    Downside to this amazingly ancient system is that if I lose the book…I’m in serious trouble.

  • Avatar Audrey says:

    That’s a pretty good system. My system is boring. My hubby and I have a base password that we use for everything, but we always do variations of it for everything. Sometimes we’ll add a number at the end, sometimes we’ll change the suffix, sometimes we’ll capitalize one letter, but it’s the same base password so we know we only have so many variations of it instead of different passwords. And as for keeping track of them….. I have all my passwords for everything written down in a certain pretty notebook that I keep next to my microwave (random). I figure if something happens to me, my hubby will have access to everything if I have it written down for him.

  • Avatar Jenny W says:

    I love your tip. I am always using the same password, so thank you for that!

  • Avatar Mandy says:

    Dear Kat – from someone who writes passwords and usernames on little scraps of paper at whichever computer I am at …. this tip is HUGELY beneficial – thank you so much!!

  • Avatar Donna says:

    I do the same thing, a VERY similar system. I love how simple it keeps my passwords and I never forget one anymore!

  • […] You might be interested if you’re like me and use the same password a lot.  Click here to […]

  • Avatar Lisa says:

    Kat –

    What a great idea! I just have a notebook that I write it all down in. the only advantage to my sustem, is that my hubby knows where the codes are if anything should happen to me. 🙁

    🙂
    Warrior MAMA Lisa

  • […]  Tech Tips for Moms: My Secret Method for Managing Online Logins {Inspired to Action} Kat makes remembering online logins and passwords super simple. Something we all need in our days packed with sites and surfing. […]

  • Avatar Almut says:

    Thank you! This is brilliant!

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