With almost every web application requiring a password and adoption of universal login services like OpenID or Google Accounts still a distant dream, it is ultimately your memory that acts as the safest password manager for storing all those complex and secret passwords.
The memory, though a safe hideout, is not a very scalable solution especially when you have accounts across dozen different websites and you don’t use the same password everywhere. That’s where Password Managers enter the scene - these tools (often free) store your passwords in encrypted form and you just have to remember a single password for retrieving any other password.
There are three kinds of Password Managers - desktop based (offline), web based (your passwords remain accessible from all computers) or portable (carry your passwords on a USB stick).
Desktop based Password Manager
KeePass is a popular desktop based password manager that’s available for all operating systems and even some mobile devices. It stores all your logins and passwords in a single database that is protected by a one master password.
The password database of KeePass consists of just one file so can easily transfer stored passwords from one computer to another very easily. If you forget the master password, all your other passwords in the database are lost forever and there is no way of recovering passwords.
Online Password Manager
Online password managers work the same as their desktop counterparts except that all your passwords get stored on an external web server and can therefore be accessed from any other computer that’s connected to the Internet.
PassPack is a good choice for an online password manager since they provide a desktop client in case you want to access passwords in an offline environment. The desktop client is available for both Adobe AIR or Google Gears.
Build Your Own Password Manager
Most web based password managers have strict privacy policies and even the company employees do not have access to your password information.
However some people might still not feel very comfortable with the idea of storing all their sensitive data on another service. If you too fall in the same category, consider using Clipperz Community - this service lets you create a personal online password manager hosted on your own web server.
Clipperz Community Edition is open source and can be easily installed on any PHP enabled web server that has MySQL. Since the passwords are stored on your own server, you get all the benefits of an online password manager but the data is stored on your own server just like any desktop password manager.
Password Manager for USB Flash drive
Portable password managers are recommended when you neither want to save passwords on the web nor on the computer’s hard drive as there’s fear that someone else may get access to those passwords in your absence.
KeePass, the tool that I discussed in the desktop category, is also available in a portable avatar that can be safely carried on a USB flash drive, CD or even your iPod. KeePass runs without installation and won’t leave any traces once the USB stick is plugged out of the computer.