How do I manage my passwords with a password manager?

Password managers can help you remember and secure all of your passwords.

Password managers are applications that store information for you (conventionally passwords, but they will also work for passphrases, PINs, and security questions). They encrypt that information and use a single strong master password that you enter when you want to access your other passwords. This means that you can use a different, strong password (many password managers will generate these for you) on every site that you log in to, without needing to worry about remembering more than one master password. Each of the products we're recommending can also complete online forms for you, simplifying your entire online experience.

As long as you remember that one master password and do not use it anywhere else, you get the benefits of using very strong, unique passwords on every site, with only having to remember one password.

Why should you use a password manager?

Passwords, passphrases, PINs, and other forms of authentication have become a fact of life for modern computer users.  Almost everything that you do on a computer from banking to blogging to checking your email requires you to prove your identity.

While it is widely acknowledged that writing down your passwords on a scrap of paper or post-it-note and storing that near the computer is a bad idea, picking one single password and using it for everything can be just as dangerous. If you've used one password for all of your accounts, it just takes one data breach at one of those accounts to expose that password you rely on for everything. The solution to this problem is not to go back to a stack of post-it-notes, but rather to use a password manager.

Password manager recommendations

We recommends a password manager for anyone that has more than one system or account that requires a login and password.

KeePass (Windows)

KeePass is a free and open source password manager that can be installed on any computer or even on a USB drive. It works with Windows 98 and newer versions of Windows. KeePass has also been reviewed for accessibility and received a strong thumbs up for its use with screen readers.

Get KeePass

KeePassX (Mac OS X and Linux)

KeePassX is a free and open source implementation of KeePass. It does not support many of the advanced features of KeePass, but it does have native clients for Mac OS X and Linux. For most purposes KeePassX is a seamless replacement for KeePass.

Get KeePassX

LastPass

LastPass is a free browser-based, cross-platform password manager. It can run as a browser extension in most browsers or as a webpage in any browser. LastPass has both a free version and a paid/premium version. The premium version primarily offers clients for mobile devices. You can compare the features found in the free and premium versions. If you do choose to to purchase the premium version, you can use the following URL to receive an 18 month subscription for the price of a 12 month subscription ($12).

Everyone with an email address ending in @illinois.edu, @uic.edu, @uis.edu, or @uillinois.edu may take advantage of this education discount, but they must use this link.

Get LastPass

What Happened To PasswordVault?

PasswordVault is no longer recommended or provided by the University. Please use one of the above options.

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Last updated: 

November 09, 2012

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