Go ahead and forget your passwords.

Written by Tyler Jacobson on August 9, 2012

I can’t tell you how many frustrated grumbles of “I’ve got too many passwords,” I’ve heard from customers and co-workers in my career. We all know it’s true; We’ve got passwords for our email, our control panel, our client area, our WordPress admin area, and that’s just where your MacHighway web hosting account is concerned. How much stress do we carry by just trying to remember all of the passwords in our lives, not to mention the added irritation when we use the wrong password and can’t access something we need RIGHT NOW?

Thankfully, there’s a solution to shake the password monkey off of your back:

Step 1

Create a different password for everything; mail, control panel, client areas, every internet shopping site,… everything.

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t having too many passwords the problem in the first place?
The problem isn’t having too many passwords, The problem is having to remember all of those passwords. We’ll get to the fix for that in a moment.

Having different passwords for everything is actually great practice. If one site gets compromised and your password is exposed to even a single malicious hacker, you can rest easy knowing that the hacker won’t be able to use your same username and password combination to exploit your accounts on other sites, or worse yet, your email account which potentially allows them access to all of your passwords by simply clicking “Forgot Your Password” links.

Step 2

Forget all of those passwords.

That’s right. Forget those passwords and feel the stress of carrying those around just melt away. Here’s how: Your email client, web browser, and FTP Client will remember your passwords for you. Read on and I’ll show you how.

Email
For this example, I’ll assume you use your email with an email client, such as Apple’s Mail client, Thunderbird, Sparrow or any other email application that exists on your Mac (and not webmail).

All of these email apps store your email password for you, saving you the frustration of having to type in your password every time you open your mail program. This convenience also offers you the ability to completely forget your email password(s).

Now, I suspect there will be concern for those times you’re on the road and you need access to your email. Before you begin to worry, consider that you may be checking your mail from a mobile phone the majority of the time and that all smart phones include Mail applications of their own, which will also store your email passwords for you.

If you use Apple’s mail application on your computer and also have an iPhone, iPad or an iPod touch, you can synchronize your mail accounts (including passwords) by following our instructions here.

If you aren’t carrying a smart phone, laptop, iPad or iPhone touch and you know that you’re going to be using webmail exclusively when you reach your destination, we recommend that you use a unique, memorable and strong password for each email account (You will find instructions on creating a password with all of those attributes in an upcoming article.)

Once you’ve chosen a new password, you can update your email account’s password by following the instructions here.

If you use webmail exclusively (we really recommend using a mail app – your life will be so much easier), please see the section on web browsers immediately below.

Web Browsers

Your web browser, the one you’re using to view this article, is almost certain to retain your passwords if you allow it to. You most likely know this, but due to safety concerns, have chosen to instead rely on either your own memory or a sticky note affixed to your monitor screen to remember the passwords you use on various websites.

I’m here to tell you that it’s far safer to allow your browser to remember hundreds of random passwords than it is to use the same password (or an assortment of a few passwords) on sites over and over again. If safety is your concern, be sure to password protect your computer by enabling both a login screen and screen saver lock.

You can easily ensure that your web browser is equipped to remember your passwords by reviewing the following guides for your favorite browser. We’ve covered the big 3 for Macs here, but you can always do a search for “[browser name] remember password” in Google.

Note: To those of you who use webmail exclusively, this is how you store your email passwords.

How to Manage Passwords with Safari (eHow.com)
Remember, delete and change saved passwords in Firefox (mozilla.org)
Manage your website passwords in Chrome (Google.com)

In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that for the most part I do not tell my browser to save my passwords. The reason for this is because I, instead, rely on the 1Password application. Not only does it remember passwords I type into browsers, it helps me create random passwords for each site, it serves as an easily searchable database for my usernames and passwords (which I use far too often, for reasons I can’t recollect), it stores and populates profile information (useful when checking out on shopping sites), securely stores my credit card numbers and so much more. It even has a mobile app so I can sync password to my iPhone.

I don’t get paid for this endorsement (yet?), so you can trust me when I say that buying 1Password is some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

FTP

You may be using FTP and not even know it. If you use any version of iWeb to create your site, you are using FTP to publish it. If you use Dreamweaver to create your site, you use FTP to publish that site to your server space. Same goes for Freeway Express, Freeway Pro, RapidWeaver, Sandvox and any other application you use to build your site on your computer – FTP is what you use to get your files and images and movies from your computer onto the MacHighway hosting servers.

If you use Transmit, Cyberduck, Fetch or any other FTP client, well, you are probably already aware that you use FTP to publish.

Now, is there really a reason that you need to have a memorable FTP/cPanel password? I’ve pondered this for months (that’s why I get paid the big bucks) and I can’t come up with a convincing argument as to why you’d ever need to remember your FTP/cPanel password once you’ve committed it to your web browser (for your cPanel password) and FTP client’s memory. Yet, I see people regularly changing their FTP/cPanel passwords from truly random passwords to easy to remember passwords. I just don’t get it.

Telling your web design tool or FTP client to remember your FTP password couldn’t be easier. Below is a list of tutorials which will walk you through the setup of many popular FTP clients and web design apps, which you will see, also show you how to store your FTP password.

iWeb 09
Freeway Express & Freeway Pro
RapidWeaver
Dreamweaver
Sandvox
Transmit
Cyberduck

So there you have it, friends. I hope these tips help to relieve frustration, stress and, at the same time, make your life on the web more secure. If you have any tips or tricks that I’ve missed, or just some feedback, please feel free to leave me a comment below.

Part 1: Go ahead and forget your passwords.
Part 2: What makes a strong password?
Part 3: How to retrieve your forgotten passwords.

Posted Under: Security

5 replies to “Go ahead and forget your passwords.

  1. Pingback: What makes a strong password? | MacHighway Blog – Mac Web Hosting, Email and eCommerce for Mac Users, by Mac Users

  2. Anonymous

    FIRST: Thanks for the informative email help. This is a problem that needs solving, and I appreciate your information about it. I’m often confused as to which passwords need re-entered for each access, and which ones get used once and never needed again. This was informative. I will bookmark it.

    QUESTIONS: Isn’t “never needed again” only if one never upgrades their system (taking the chance some items may be lost in the upgrade), purchases a new computer, or a “glitch” of some sort causes the need for a password reset? _____

    NOTE: I’d love to follow these directions, and forget my passwords… BUT in the past, with MacHighway, for some reason, my emails have sometimes been blocked – even when we enter the correct password. I worry that not knowing my current password might make regaining access even more difficult.

    When the “block” has happened; I call MacHighway and do receive cordial and quick “re-sets” eliminating the “block” that’s been put on my email. But I’d like it not to happen. I’ve been told that perhaps one of my computers is incorrectly attempting access, and after maybe three attempts, somehow the server (carl.machighway) automatically blocks the email address. But I’ve been unable to solve that mystery.

    Actually, people may be changing to simpler passwords because it seems quite often (with many more applications than just MacHighway’s servers) entry is denied, even when passwords are correct*. I’d love to think an application like 1Password would solve the problem – but what IF we’d somehow lose access to THAT application – would we then lose access to EVERY application we have that demands password entry? It’s scary to contemplate!

    *Then one must click on “forgot my password” (even if they haven’t), wait for an email to arrive with directions to reset a password (hoping that the email being sent isn’t blocked due to password glitches).

    I guess I’d just need some REALLY STRONG assurance that this would help the problem, not make it worse. Does the application 1Password rest on my computer, with its passwords, or in the “cloud”?____ Is there a way I could go in and “see” all the passwords should I need that?_____

    Reply

    1. Post Author Tyler Jacobson

      B,

      QUESTIONS: Isn’t “never needed again” only if one never upgrades their system (taking the chance some items may be lost in the upgrade), purchases a new computer, or a “glitch” of some sort causes the need for a password reset? _____

      Sure, this could happen. Ideally, it wouldn’t happen – but computers are computers and data glitches or fails to transfer properly. With any company, there are ways to reset a forgotten password. Considering the safety that having multiple passwords offers and how rarely (if ever) you’d lose all of your password details, I think it’s a moderate risk worth taking.

      NOTE: I’d love to follow these directions, and forget my passwords… BUT in the past, with MacHighway, for some reason, my emails have sometimes been blocked – even when we enter the correct password. I worry that not knowing my current password might make regaining access even more difficult.

      In these cases, the password entered isn’t what the server is expecting, for whatever reason. That’s the only cause of a block like this. Luckily, we now offer the ability for you to remove your own blocks. We have a KB article about that here: https://customers.machighway.com/knowledgebase.php?action=displayarticle&id=248

      I hope that helps. 🙂

      Reply

  3. B

    Continuing response to your “go-ahead-and-forget-your-passwords” information, which had a “thank You” and explained my worries about passwords, and 1Password app questions. I didn’t leave my details the first time – sorry – I’ll include them here below.

    B Dauria (BookPublishGuide.com – Touchstone-com.com – etc.)
    email bd@bookpublishguide.com

    Reply

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