KeePass Info

KeePass
Keepass is available for free from KeePass.info.  Versions of this program are available on a lot of different types of computers: Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Smartphones.  There is another free program which some people like better, called Password Safe which has some nice features and only runs on Windows.  I was looking for something that I could use on my Windows computer and my Android Smartphone though, so I went with Keepass since there is a version which runs on Android phones.

Keepass is fairly simple.  It allows you to create entries for each computer system or website where you can store your user ID, password, and other relevant notes.  It stores all of this data in an encrypted file.

When you create the file for the first time you assign a password to it that you won’t forget.  If you forget that password then you can’t open the file in Keepass!  If you use a strong password for this file then it will be encrypted really well so that nobody else can open it without knowing your magic password.

Keepass + Dropbox: Sharing your KeePasss File...

Dropbox
I also use software called Dropbox which can keep files synchronized between various computers.  I installed Dropbox on Krista’s home PC and on my work laptop, and also on my Smartphone, and on each of my children’s laptops.  I use different Dropbox accounts for each person.  Dropbox allows you to “share” a folder with another Dropbox user, so I created a folder called “Scott Family” and shared it with Krista and the kids.  Then I moved the Keepass file that Krista and I share into this folder, and it was then synchronized to all of these PCs.  Only Krista and I know the password for that file, so while our kids can see the file it they can’t actually open it to read its contents.

As our kids entered college and opened their own bank accounts, they also had to start managing an increasing number of passwords.  I created a Keepass file for each of them and stored it in this folder too.  I know the password for their files and each child knows the password for their own file, but not the other child’s file.  They have access to their own data and I do too, just as an emergency precaution.  This works very well for our family, and all of the data is secure because of Keepass’s encryption of these files.

I would not trust Dropbox to be secure on its own!  It has some basic security, but it could be hacked fairly easily, so I make sure that if I store anything important in Dropbox, that data is encrypted by some other program.  I was happy using Keepass, but since I access a lot of websites in my job, it can be sort of a hassle copying and pasting the user ID and password into the web browser.  Read on about LastPass if this is your case too.