I Forgot My Password

File this under "really f'ing irritating." I have probably 50 or so accounts I use on the web – from Wordpress to MT, Wells Fargo to AdSense to AdWords, to lord knows what. And I tend to mix up my passwords a bit. No, well, a lot. And I…

File this under “really f’ing irritating.” I have probably 50 or so accounts I use on the web – from WordPress to MT, Wells Fargo to AdSense to AdWords, to lord knows what. And I tend to mix up my passwords a bit. No, well, a lot. And I am forever screwing up and forgetting my passwords. Sometimes I also forget which email address I used as well, so even getting my damn password back is impossible, given that I have like six working emails.

All of this is made worse by Firefox and its ilk, which remembers passwords for you, so you can forget them entirely until, of course, your browser is borked or you’re on a different machine.

Anyway, all this came rushing back to me when I read this post by Xavier at Sun. Seems Meebo users are a lot like me:

Two releases ago, we considered eliminating the “New user?” and “Forgot your password?” links on the front meebo login page. Before doing so, we decided to track how many users clicked on the links. Good thing we didn’t eliminate them – turns out that 11,000+ meebo users depend upon these links daily!

There has got to be a better way.

31 thoughts on “I Forgot My Password”

  1. I’ve been using this Password generator bookmarklet for well over a year now. It runs the domain name and your master password through the MD5 algorithm and fills out the password form on that page with a unique password for that site. To crack it an attacker would need to discover your master password.

    It works out when I am travelling also. Just e-mail yourself a copy of the bookmarklet or Google for `javascript master password’ and use that site.

  2. Try roboform it allows you save multiple passwords under multiple identities for the same website, it’s even portable on a USB key so you can still have access to your info while not on your PC

  3. for me i just use the same password on all my accounts, from Typepad to paypal. My password is my first name backwords, and I never forget it.

  4. I have the same John,
    So I started collecting all my user names and passwords in an excel sheet, which is protected with just one password.
    I keep the excell on my private memory stick.
    this way, if you ever forget one, you can simply look it up.

  5. For 30 bucks, RoboForm has been a life and sanity saver. Used to do the Excel password-protected file synched on home/work computers with FolderShare and on USB, but RoboForm seamlessly automates the whole process and fills out the fields for you to boot.

  6. I’ve noted the same challenge and wonder if it is analogous to failing to use advanced search features at the SEs. Could it be user habituation combined with a lack of motivation to organize the mundane tasks of life? or Laziness? or Stupidity?

  7. The future of the web is not what we put on it, we are already drowing in content – it is how we connect to it and how it remembers us.

    The last part is key – the web currently has no capacity to know it’s me. And if you think the answer is cookies and secret password files, simply erase them each time you close the browser and then re-visit the web site. It has no idea that I’m back again.

    It’s bad enough with desktop browsers, wait until people switch to mobile devices which are even more limited. Forms are only part of the answer, there has to be a better way to do the following:

    1. Who are you
    2. What are you
    3. Where are you
    4. What can you do
    5. How can I find out more about you ( safely and legally )

    The web has to become more bi-directional to solve these problems. Until we will all be carrying around password files.

  8. I have this problem. So many emails, so many sites. And even though I have a system for how I choose passwords, so many sites are now requiring more and more specificity…this many characters, this many numerals, etc. etc.

    So, I use a little utility on the Mac called Keychain Access pretty damn regularly. Just by remembering my Mac system password it will give me access to all of the various passwords, as long as I have indicated when logging in that I want the system to remember the password. Comes in handy, pretty much daily.

    Don’t know what the equivalent is for the PC, if any.

  9. But, why in heaven would Meebo even consider getting rid of the “Forgot your password?” link? If there’s a feature I expect from any service that requires a login, that’s number one. I don’t think for a second they really considered to do such thing.

  10. The passport microsoft thing seems like a good idea now. One place, one password. Too bad the patriot act and other compliance issues killed it.

  11. I imagined a utopia where each of us would log into a browser and have all of our passwords unlocked. Then I remembered blackhats.

    It’s best to jot down your passcodes on paper and carry them in your wallet. (I shy away from password-protected excel sheets; motivated hackers can do just about anything.)

  12. I like

    it is free, runs well on USB, has autocomplete ability, will copy to the clipboaqrd (and clear the clipboard after 10 seconds) and is 128 bit encrypted. About once a week, I back up the database to an "air gapped" machine at my residence. (Meaning it does not connect to any network.)

  13. I use keepass too. Excellent. However I also use a kind of public/private key mechanism. I have a set of characters I remember and never tell anyone. To that I add some thing from the site I’m on that will spark my memory. So if my private key is say, dog* and I’m on wordpress my password might be dog*wordp or something like that.

  14. What I really hate are sites which require you to enter
    your username to get your password instead of an email.

    If I’ve forgotten my password for the site, I may have forgotten the username as well.

  15. Thanks for sharing.

    Here, I was thinking I might be the only one having to struggle with this messy way of remembering passwords and user names.

    What an inefficient way to operate.

    I hope someone has a simple and effective way to solve this messy issue.


  16. I also use just one password although I find the idea of writing my name backwards a bit insecure. I use a word unrelated to anything connected with me, and then substitute a few numbers for letters eg. 1 for l, or 5 for s. Google calls my password strong on my gmail account. If you then encrypt all your user info, passwords etc. and keep them as a file you can’t really go wrong. Oh, and change all your passwords every now and again.

  17. Passwords are a terrible (but unfortunately ubiquitous) way of securing information. I was reading a book about Alzheimers recently which pointed out that in the past (ie pre-paper and universal literacy) people had to be much better at remembering things. One of the methods that was used was to imagine items scattered around a room in various places (eg in the fireplace, on a chair etc). I’d have thought that someone who could build this kind of cultural/visual mnemonic into a browser would be onto a winner.

  18. I’m a big fan of “anypassword”. It’s handy for keeping all those pesky pw’s. Sounds like keepass is pretty similar.

  19. Just because in 11,000 people choose the “forgotten password” link, doesn’t mean that there are 11,000 people who for the password. the whole reason that you considered getting rid of it was for security concerns, and I think this proves it

  20. Hi John,

    The thing of it is, most sites that make you remember a username and password really don’t need to! Usually, they really only need to know two things about you:

    1. That you’re the same person you were the last time you showed up at that site, and
    2. That you have certain preferences, like your interests, the feeds you read, the area of the world you live in, etc.

    At PrefPass, we’re trying to help solve this problem by providing an easy to use system that replaces this kind of user/password relationship with a single click. We’re in limited beta right now, so feel free to sign up for an invite at prefpass.com!

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