Reader Rob wrote to us with this question:
Can you comment on the top two password manager programs that are currently available and that you would recommend? I had Norton Password Manager 2004 on my old machine; I just got a new desktop and want to get an up-to-date, easy-to-use, reliable program to use to create/store passwords and fill out forms.Excellent question, Rob. A password manager is an essential tool these days, particularly one that can generate and organize secure passwords. I use mine almost daily.
When it comes to freebie password managers (our preferred variety), you really have two main choices:
First, there's KeePass, an open-source, cross-platform password database that can generate random passwords for you and copy them to the clipboard for quick and easy pasting.
It's not the most user-friendly tool on the planet; just figuring out which version to install (Classic or Professional, a.k.a. 1.x or 2.x) can be a challenge. But it's free, and it lets you store all manner of private information (PINs, Social Security numbers, etc.), not just Web passwords.
If, on the other hand, you're interested solely in Web passwords, look no further than LastPass. The free version can generate secure passwords for the sites you visit, automatically fill them in whenever you return, and synchronize across different browsers and computers.
Personally, I prefer a password manager that's good for all kinds of data (credit card numbers, frequent-flier accounts, etc.) and that can sync with my iPhone.
Consequently, I'm using eWallet, though SplashID is another good candidate. So is RoboForm, arguably the most popular of the password managers. Alas, the free version is quite limited; you have to pony up $30 on RoboForm Pro to get the good stuff.
Anyone have any other recommendations for Rob? If so, share 'em in the comments!