How many passwords do you need to remember — fifteen? Fifty? Too many to count?
You don't need to.
When you use a password manager, you can have a unique, unbreakable password for every service.
The only password you need ever memorize is the one for the password manager itself, which you'll use nearly every day — so it will be hard to forget it.
But why else should I use a password manager?
They’re not just for passwords ‒ any kind of secret can be kept inside. I use mine to keep insurance info and serial numbers for my valuables, as well as some other important personal information.
In an emergency I don’t need to stress over trying to get my information together; it’s all in one (secure) place, and is backed up to several independent locations.
Convenience is another great reason to use a password manager. The best of them will type or copy in the password as soon as you need it.
For example, I’ve set up a hotkey so that my system will type in the right username and password, without having to ask me which set to use. Since you don’t need to type them manually, it’s easy to have strong, hard-to-guess passwords everywhere.
Should I use a cloud-based solution, or a local app?
The easiest managers to use are cloud-based, and they’ll take care of the backups, so even if your PC or phone is broken, recovering your passwords is easy.
Local password managers can be used even without an internet connection, and often have more powerful features. They also don’t ask that you place your trust in a cloud provider, and don’t send your passwords over the internet.
Some are also open-source, so they can be audited if need be. You will need to ensure that your vault is backed up, though.
What are some popular password managers?
Browser Password Managers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, etc etc)
While it’s definitely convenient to have the browser fill in those passwords for you, it’s important to know that they aren’t stored encrypted on your computer - unless your browser asks you for a Master Password before it fills them in - and they may not be backed up. If your computer fails, they’re gone.
You might ask 'why do I even need to bother? I can always just reset my password.'
That works fine, up until you can’t access the email address you used to sign up for the service; then you’ll have some difficulty.
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes! Security Questions (the questions that some services ask during the password reset process) are often the weakest link in account security, due to their easily-guessed nature.
Someone who has even a little information about you, can make educated guesses and do an end-run around your password.
I recommend choosing very unusual (even abstract) questions and answers, and keeping those in the password manager.
You can be confident that you’ll never need to remember them, since your password manager will not fail you if you take care of it.