What is password management software and why is it useful?
Password management software makes it as simple as ABC to handle your personal online credentials. Not only can it create strong and hard-to-guess passwords for you, it also facilitates the way you log into your accounts, thus sparing you of the vertigo almost every computer user faces these days. All you need to keep in mind is the ‘master password’ – the rest of the authentication routine is then done by the utility automatically. Moreover, using the ‘master password’ you can work with your accounts on different PCs without leaving any traces, thus eliminating the probability of subsequent privacy violation. So, you will no longer need to write down or remember your passwords as the software stores them all in a safe place and subsequently logs you in each time you want to access an account.
Another handy feature provided by most password managers is ‘auto-fill’ which makes it real easy to apply for new web services. The tool will do the cumbersome personal details entering job for you using the information that you pre-defined (your name, birth data, location, phone numbers, etc.). It’s not only passwords that this software helps you manage though. You can also rely on it for storing other data like PINs, locker combinations, software licenses, etc. Additionally, the backup function enables restoring your private information if some error or software failure happens to occur.
Password Management software review: evaluation criteria Password managers should be convenient and easy to use even for those who are not too computer savvy. This simplicity is to be combined with sufficient security though, powering the ultimate privacy protection. Below is a brief list of the basic criteria password management software should meet.
- Usability: Convenience and ease of use are some of the undoubted virtues that definitely tilt the scales in favor of a specific password manager. You want a program that makes complicated things simple, be it generating strong passwords, creating new accounts, backing up your data or filling out online forms. Beyond doubt, installing this type of software should not imply anything complicated, getting completed in a few clicks and causing no conflicting issues. It’s also great to be able to check out the selected password manager for free during evaluation period, so this capability is something we definitely take notice of as well. In terms of the controls, some of these apps are manifested as browser add-ons; in any case, making use of the features and toggling settings ought to be easy and take little time to get accustomed to.
- Features: The functional value of password managers is determined by the scope of specific options they offer. Of course the feature of prime importance is generating and managing passwords. The ability to store other types of personal information such as credit card details, SSNs, etc. is an additional advantage to look for. It’s also a great feature to be able to save the password database to an external device so that the user can be protected while working on a different computer. If available, the form fill-out feature will help apply for new services with ease, doing the whole annoying job for you automatically. We also pay attention to things like virtual keyboard, multifactor authentication, and options for importing/exporting login data from other password managers, including ones that come with web browsers.
- Efficiency: The idea that must be ‘hard-coded’ into the very essence of password managers is to help you stay on the safe side when entering your confidential information online. Reliable data encryption with military-grade algorithms (e.g. AES-256), as well as phishing and keylogger defense, are therefore implied as the basics to consider when picking the right utility. To reinforce the intactness of your sensitive information, the best password management applications should allow for multi-factor authentication, making it possible to log in using a USB drive with a special tool on it, or YubiKey device. Furthermore, appropriate password generating techniques assuring a sufficient degree of combination entropy, along with password strength meter functionality, let you avoid the consequences of possible brute-force attacks.
- Support: It’s a must for password management software vendors to provide appropriate assistance to its clients and supply the necessary software documentation, answers to the most common inquiries in the FAQs section, access to the dedicated customer care forum, and preferably video tutorials addressing product use and troubleshooting. Customer support should be easy to reach via different channels (email, online chat, phone), friendly, and responsive. Fast problem solution is particularly relevant when it comes to situations where you need to get your forgotten master password recovered or in the event of a serious technical failure, so this component of the general product evaluation is not to be neglected.