I’m often asked about how I handle passwords for all the different sites that require passwords.
The questioner’s eyes get pretty big when I mention that I use random mixtures of letters and numbers for my passwords, and even bigger when I say that I use a different password on every site.
The immediate question is "How can you keep track of them all?"
The answer is one of the reasons that I use a PDA, a Personal Digital Assistant. In my case, it is the PalmOS v4 based Sony Clié SJ-33, which I’ve used for a couple years.
The program that lets me keep track of these is called Secret! (yes, there’s an exclamation mark as part of the name). Secret! has long been available for PalmOS. I didn’t realize it, but it is also available for Pocket PC handhelds, too. According to the publisher’s web site (http://linkesoft.com/secret/index.html), Secret! runs on all Pocket PC handhelds with Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 SE, and the current Windows Mobile 5.0.
Secret! uses the 128-bit International Data Encryption Algorithm (IDEA) encryption system to
keep the data protected. Of course, it requires a password to get into Secret!
What happens if my PDA breaks?
First, every time I sync my PDA with my computer, the Secret! data file gets backed up.
Second, there is a optional sister application called "Secret! Desktop" that synchronizes automatically with the PDA-based Secret! at every hotsync, too.
So, that means, when I’m using my PC, I can look up the passwords without having to pull out my PDA. Or, I can access the PDA, whichever seems my best solution at the time.
My other solution, which I planned to use if I ever switch to a Pocket PC, is the database program HandBase. HandBase(http://www.handbase.com), from DDH Software, is an easy-to-use database program that lets users create their own database applications with the $30 Plus version. With the $40 Professional Edition, you also get a screen editor to let you create nice-looking input forms.
HandBase includes optional encryption of individual databases that you create. So far, I haven’t encrypted any of my HandBase databases, but I can, so that makes it a viable option.
You can see one of my HandBase database applets here: My Coffee Beans Inventory Program for Palm and PocketPC.