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How To Keep Track Of All Your Passwords – For Free

November 2nd, 2013

Tired of forgetting important usernames or passwords?

For years I kept mine in a small spiral-bound notebook on my desk. At home. The problem was, when I was at work, I could not access that notebook.

Google-login-imageSo a couple of years ago I came up with a better solution which I use daily and can access anywhere in the world. It’s a spreadsheet inside Google docs, free for individual users. All you need is a Google account such as Gmail. Google docs is a feature of Google Drive, which provides free online storage in the cloud for anything you can upload to it.

To ensure that it is safe and secure, I added double security with Google’s 2-step verification. Now once you go down the 2-step path, you will have to use it for all Google apps, including Gmail, Google apps on your smartphone or tablet and other Google services. So that is the trade-off. But worth it in my opinion because it keeps all of it secure and pretty much unhackable.

Essentially Google wants to verify that you are intentionally using one of its services with a qualified electronic device. So if you start out with your password spreadsheet using Internet Explorer or Mac Safari, and then want to access it via Chrome, Google is going to ask you, one time, to verify that you intentionally want to use Chrome on your computer to access your Google docs. You will not be able to access other Google services without first verifying that you want to do that on the device you are using at the moment – computer, smart phone, tablet etc.

The quickest way to do that is to have Google’s computers send you a verification code number to your mobile phone via text message. Typically it is a 6-digit code (it used to be 4 and may soon be 8). Within seconds of your asking Google to verify access to one of its services, a window will open up in your browser and the code will be sent to your mobile phone. Just type the numbers into the verification window and submit, and you’re done. From now on you can securely access Google docs or other Google app with your verified device, computer or smart phone without having to re-enter the verification code for that combination. Very easy, very quick, very secure.

Since I create and manage websites for a living, as well as having multiple websites of my own, my list of usernames and passwords is over 200 lines long and growing! My Google docs spreadsheet has columns entitled:

WEBSITE     USERNAME    PASSWORD    WEBHOST      OTHER

Every time I create a website, or add a blog to it, or register as a website user, I immediately open a new window, log into my Logins spreadsheet, add a row, and add the new data. Because I know if I forget to do that in the moment, there’s no way I am going to remember it weeks or months later.

Google docs also allows a wide range of other services, including online surveys which are really neat and valuable. But that’s a topic for another post.