Back in 1995, when the “Internet” was a thing that mostly university students used, I had perhaps two online accounts. The first one was for a UBC-wide e-mail address. The second one was for an electrical engineering account that allowed me access to their UNIX systems. Two accounts meant, at the very most, two different passwords to remember. It was easy to keep track of all my online credentials.
Fast forward to the present. I now have more digital and online accounts that I can count. In fact, I have never counted how many accounts I currently have. It’s probably well over two dozen if not more. You can now access almost all personal information online. That’s very convenient and saves time. The downside is that with every new account means a new set of credentials to remember. In the last two weeks, I’ve signed up for three different accounts: one to access my medical lab tests, one to access my pay stubs online, and one to become a member of the HTC support forums.
I believe I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer store all these credentials in my head. There’s actually one account where I don’t even try to remember the password. I just get the system to send me a new password each and every single time I need to get into the account. Last week, I signed up to get my pay stubs online and promptly forgot my userID. From what I can tell, the system doesn’t even let you retrieve a forgotten userID.
I can do one of several things at this juncture. First, I can start to use the same password for all my accounts. I’ve tried really hard not to do this from the onset as this can severely compromise all your accounts. If someone steals the password for just one account, they essentially have a good chance of getting into all your stuff online. Second, I can start writing down all my information down on a plain, old, low-tech piece of paper. This is proven method but it too has drawbacks. It’s not very portable as you’ll need to carry this around with you. I possibly could store this in my wallet but that seems kinda lame. It’s also not very secure. If you lose the paper, you’ll be in big trouble (you won’t remember your info and someone else might pick it up). Third, I can use a software password manager. These type of programs can live either on your own computer or online. These too are not perfect. If someone gets your master password, all your passwords are now vulnerable. If you use a desktop one, then it’s not portable. If you use an online one, it’s susceptible to being hacked.
How do you keep track of all your accounts?