Why you need a password manager (besides saving your passwords)

Password managers can do a lot more than just save your logins

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You've probably heard the recommendation multiple times before: Use a password manager instead of reusing your password on different sites. That advice is still good advice, but if you haven't taken it yet, let me offer a few more reasons to download a password manager today.

There are many password managers to choose from--1Password, LastPass, Keepass, and Dashlane to name a few. They all work similarly to encrypt all your passwords in one secure vault locked by your (hopefully long and secure) master password. But there are also features of these programs you might not be using--or would be worth using even if you don't use the password saving feature much.

With most of these programs, you can save not just your logins, but your:

  • Contact information and other "identity" facts, such as your birthday, gender, job title, and company. This makes filling in forms very quick, and you can create multiple identities to fill in forms with your work details, your family member's information, or any other alternate identity.
  • Software licenses: Save the license keys to your purchased software, download links, and other details that would make reinstalling these apps much easier in case you need to move to a new computer or your hard drive crashes.
  • Credit cards, membership cards, and other wallet items: It's safer to not store your credit card information in your account with online stores. But filling in your credit card details are a pain. Password managers can store credit cards for you and easily fill them out at checkout, and you can also add your reward program cards, passport information, driver's license information, and other wallet items. This serves as an emergency backup in case the actual physical items get lost or damaged.
  • Secure notes: Anything confidential that you have to make a note of can go into your password manager as well.

A password manager is like an encrypted database of your most important and vital information. Storing it all in one place might seem dangerous, but it's a lot better than not recording the information above or storing them in unsecure locations like a text file on Dropbox. If you choose a strong master password for the database and have two-factor authentication turned on for the app, you should be able to rest easy.

Also, give a loved one access to this database or share parts of it with them; that way, in case anything happens to you, they'll be able to take care of your accounts without hunting around for the details.

This story, "Why you need a password manager (besides saving your passwords)" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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