You know you need a password manager. But did you know that one of the top managers is a free, open-source application?
Here’s why I think KeePass is the best solution for protecting your passwords — and for safely accessing the Web.
Password Managers 101: If you’re a regular Windows Secrets reader, you undoubtedly know that password managers are an indispensable tool for keeping and managing strong passwords. Password managers store passwords in a virtual safe or vault (actually, an encrypted database). When you sign in to a website or secure program, the manager enters the correct username and password for that particular site or app. That lets you give each site/app its own unique, impossible-to-guess password — an essential practice for PC security. You have to remember only one password: the master key to the password manager. (Obviously, that’s the one password you never want to forget!)
Many great password managers are offered, both paid and free. In his Nov. 14, 2013, article, “More good questions on password management,” Fred Langa nicely explained how password managers work. And in a related Top Story, he also noted that his preferred password manager is the paid RoboForm — in part because it’s what he’s used for years.
I’m going to tell you why I use the current KeePass 2.24 (site), which on its download page is called KeePass Professional. (Note that the program itself doesn’t use the Pro label.) I’ll also give some advice on the best ways to use it.
One reason I prefer KeePass is that it’s free! That’s nice, but it’s not the primary reason you should seriously consider this tool.
More options for securing your password manager
As stated above, the whole point of a password manager is to let you use strong passwords without the need to remember each and every one. But of course there’s one you must never forget — the password to your password manager. That one master password needs to be both strong and easy to remember. It’s the one you should consider carefully before implementing.