Password managers can be challenging

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- How many passwords do you have? How would you like to trade them all in for just one, ultra-secure password? It is possible, but a 7 On Your Side tryout finds you have to really want it.

We are told to have a different password for every website. Depending which study you believe, that means the average computer user needs somewhere between 25 and 100 unique passwords to protected their accounts. That is a lot to keep up with, so to help with that there are password managers.

Those are apps that securely hold our passwords, then dole them out when we sign into websites where they're needed. Sounds fast and easy, but the set up process can be challenging.

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Joe Ridout is with the consumer advocacy group Consumer Action. He agreed to look at password managers while I followed along and kept track. While he worked he told me, "This is not a very easy or straightforward process."

Joe is used to working his computers, he is not a newbie, and the going was slow. Some of the apps wouldn't even download into his computer.

"This is not very intuitive," he says, and that is exactly what I experienced when I downloaded several password managers.

What I imagined to be a straightforward project, turned into an ordeal.

Edward Zeidan founded Lafayette-based Lamorinda Technology, a firm specializing in IT support for individuals and small businesses.

He says password managers, "Do take a little work to get used to, there's a little bit of learning time involved with a password manager."

So can an average person figure it out eventually? "Yes," he tells me, "but with several hours' worth of studying."

He says it is worth the time, that his password manager is one of his favorite programs.

If you want to get a password manager, take these three steps.

  • Look for an app that works with your operating system -- that's a major issue.

  • Use a free trial to see if the app you select is a good fit

  • Set aside ample time to learn the app and input all of those user names and passwords.

"I think the idea of simplifying with a universal password is outstanding," Consumer Action's Joe Ridout tells me. "But the password managers I tried today were anything but easy, efficient or helpful."

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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