I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before until you get sick and tired of hearing it. You need a unique strong password for each of your accounts. Do not use the same password more than once. Do not use personally identifiable information and set a password as long as possible.
This means no password like 12345 or abcde. Or classic unlock password. If you use them, well, don’t ask yourself or others why you were attacked. Instead, you need something totally fun like g6J2_a1 ## @ RlQ56..99 + * REMOVE.
But the problem then becomes that you are not a robot that can fall back on such cryptic passwords. That’s why you need a password manager, and since I absolutely love open source software, I chose the password manager as KeePass.
It also has my allegiance as it has a portable version so it fits on my USB stick.
Setting up KeePass for the First Time
I will use the portable Windows version for this article because I usually don’t like installing software that isn’t necessary. Plus, since I use multiple devices, having something usable on a USB stick appeals to me.
So you need the settings file first (obviously).
If you go to KeePass Download Page, you’ll see the latest versions of Windows at the top. Always use the latest version.
Below that, you’ll see versions of KeePass for other platforms, such as MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, etc. There’s even one for Blackberry. Cute.
While not all of them are called KeePass, they are fully compatible with the KeePass password database.
Now extract the zip file, making sure that the folder structure is still intact. Place the extracted file on your computer or USB stick and open it.
Click KeePass.exe to start the program and you will be presented with a login window giving you access to your secure password database.
But since this is your first time using KeePass, there will be no databases to open. So you will have to make one.
Close the login window and an empty window will pop up.
Create your first database
Click File–> Newlead to this.
Click OK and the next step is to create and save the KDBX file (the file format of the KeePass password database).
Make sure it’s in the same folder as the other KeePass folders and files so it doesn’t get confused.
You can also rename the KDBX file to whatever you want. Call it Mango if you will. KeePass doesn’t care. As long as there’s a KDBX file format, that’s all that matters..
Set database password
The only thing stopping someone from hacking your password database is the password you give your KeePass database. Make it weak and they’ll go bankrupt in no time. Make it strong and they will never intrude.
So don’t rush into this part of the process.
Try to make your database passwords as hard to guess as possible. Use uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and maybe a few special characters like commas or full periods.
When you enter your desired password, the “Estimated Quality” of the password will tell you what KeePass thinks of your choice. You want that as high as possible.
You will definitely want an urgent fact sheet!
Finally you will be asked if you want to print the “Urgent Declaration”. YES!
For obvious reasons, there is no password reset option. So, if you forget your database password or you die and your loved one needs your password, then you or they are in big trouble.
So print out the emergency paper, write down the master password, then hide it. If it belongs to your loved one, put it with a will where they can find it.
Customize your database
Your database will now open and you can start creating and saving passwords.
The login categories are on the left. These are the default ones that KeePass gives you, but you can delete them or rename them if you want. You can also create unlimited new ones.
It will have two saved sample entries on the right and you can go ahead and delete them.
Create your first password
To generate a password, go to the top of the password database window and click the little yellow key.
A new password window will open. Now you need to fill in the fields. The title will be the name of the website, the software, whatever. Username… well explainable. The URL will obviously be a link to a website or software service. None of these fields MUST be completed but it helps.
Now for the password. For security reasons, passwords are masked with dots. If you click the three-dot button, the password will reveal itself. Click the button again to mask the password.
To generate a password click on the key icon under the three dots button and you will get this menu. Choose Open Password Generator.
You really just need Create using charset section. Choose the length of your password (a good length is at least 25 characters). Then select the type of characters you want in the password.
Now click OK and the password box will be pre-populated with a password. Click the three dots button to see what you are offered. Do not like it. Reuse the password generator for another spin.
When you want to log into that site, right click on the entry in KeePass and select Copy username. Then click in the username box on the website and CTRL + V to paste the username in (or CMD + V on a Mac). Right click on the entry again and select Copy password and repeat the process in the password box.
You need to be quick because after 12 seconds, KeePass will delete the information from your clipboard for security reasons. You can shorten or lengthen the time in KeePass options.
KeePass makes creating and managing difficult passwords as easy as possible. Now, there’s no reason to say that maintaining unique passwords is exhausting and stressful. KeePass makes it as easy as a few clicks.