Managing Passwords

We all have dozens of online sites that require a password to access. Many of these sites contain personal information that needs to be protected. Do you use the same password to access every site requiring a login? If so, you are a data thief’s dream come true. Every compromised site – IRS, US government employees’ records, Target customers, etc. – provides the infiltrators with login information that they will use to test other sites. So, if you use the same password for every login and one of those sites is compromised, then you better believe they are checking all your other sites (Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, your bank, etc.) to see if they can access them too.

How do you deal with this? Use a password manager. These apps will help you build unique, complex and secure passwords for every site requiring a login. They maintain your password collection securely and automatically enter the appropriate login information for each site you visit. All you need to remember is the single password needed to access the password manager. Here’s an overview of one password manager – 1Password.


Because researching requires access to a number of sites maintaining personal information, a password manager is a priority tool in your genealogy research toolbox. It helps you keep your research world separate from your personal world. Here are some very good password manager options.

1Password [$49.99 desktop] supports Mac, Windows, Android and iOS computers and devices and will securely synch the password database between your desktop and mobile devices. A single license for an operating system will support multiple devices. For example, in our household we have one Mac license and one iOS license. The Mac license supports both my big Mac and my husband’s MacBook. The single iOS license supports both of our iPhones and iPads. Each of us has our own personal database as well as a shared one.

Lastpass [free & premium $12/year] supports Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android systems. You can use the free app on any of your devices, but you will need a premium account to sync your data between all your devices.

Dashlane [free & premium $40/year per user] supports Mac, Windows, iOS and Android systems and is the only service (so far) that offers an automatic password changer. It also requires a premium account to backup your password database and to have web access to your password data.

Choosing a password manager is the first step. The next one is spending time learning how to use it. Most have browser extensions that will insert appropriate login information at the click of a button. You’ll be using this feature a lot so make sure you know how it works. Not only are these apps great for managing passwords, they are also a great place to include personal information like the answers to security questions, PINs and other private stuff. I use 1Password’s Software License section to store license keys and purchase dates. It’s much faster than trying to find the receipt.

Yes, it will take some effort to move from your manual password system but once you’re done you will have a secure system and easy access to all your online accounts. Your security is well worth both the time and money.



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