Managing Client Passwords Without Going Crazy

As web professionals, we all end up logging in and out of countless websites and apps all day long. Between all of my clients and all of my own projects, I’m often logging in and out of the same websites with different credentials in a day. And using different computers just makes it even worse.

I’ve looked for ways to help keep passwords manageable for years. A former employer built a custom CRM that stored client passwords. I’ve kept text lists and Basecamp Writeboards. I’ve saved them in my browser, and used different browsers for different accounts to keep them all straight. It’s constantly been a mess.

So I finally broke down and tried a password management plugin a few months back. It’s something I’ve considered for years, but wasn’t convinced it would actually make the situation better. I also couldn’t decide between LastPass and KeePass.

My decision between the two wasn’t all that scientific. A friend who has used them both said, “unless you need to store terminal passwords, use LastPass.” So I signed up.

I’ll be honest – it’s been a bit of a bumpy transition. Sure, it automatically imported my Firefox passwords from all my computers, and technically set up was easy. But due to the horrible mess all my save passwords were in, well, it imported that mess. I have passwords from former clients floating around (don’t worry, I’m deleting them), multiple passwords for the same site, passwords that don’t work anymore, etc. I’ve been trying to clean them up as I encounter them, but I really need to sit down and just clean up everything at once.

The beauty of LastPass (and other password managers) is that they’re completely cross-platform and cross-browser. So for those who’ve abandoned Firefox for Chrome, or if you use a PC at work and a Mac at home, or even when using two browsers to log into two different Google accounts at the same time – you’re still covered. And it’s mobile. And portable. And web-based. You can have your passwords literally anywhere you are.

One of the other features I love is password generation. How many times have you had to generate a password for a client, and the site requires 12 characters, at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter and one number, and for you to stand on your head for 3 seconds? Set the parameters you need, generate the password, and you’re done. (Just, don’t forget to copy the password and send it to the client).

Overall I’m pretty happy with the jump to LastPass. I’m ever so slightly more organized, which makes managing multiple clients and multiple websites a bit less of a hassle.

Photo: Carlos Luz/Flickr

About Dawn Smith

Dawn Wentzell is currently working in custom mobile app development as Project Manager, Mobile Technology at SpeakFeel Corporation. She has experience with SEO for both local businesses and national markets, loves to do site audits and hates IIS hosting. You can find her at or on twitter at @saffyre9.

Filed under: Tips


Dawn Wentzell

Ironically, when I tried to log in to the Authority Labs site to post this, LastPass had the wrong password saved and I ended up locking myself out for an hour *headdesk*

James Moore

Did you try RoboForm? It’s not a free solution but we’re found it to be the best solution for our company. Many users can share the same passwords across our network. Client passwords are encrypted with AES (or many other choices) and there is even user/supervisor level access to the passwords. Works with IE, FF, Chrome, Opera, and integrates in the system UI nicely for FTP credentials, etc.

Dawn Wentzell

@James – I haven’t tried RoboForm. In my mind, RoboForm is more for saving shipping info than logins, but it actually sounds really handy if you work in a team environment. Thanks for the suggestion!

James Moore

@Dawn – What you’re referring to is what they call Identities and those come in extremely handy for the SEO department when Link Building in Directories. Add the client info once, add a few custom fields such as URL, keywords, site description, etc. and the manual link building process is a bit less painful.

Dana Lookadoo

Dawn, glad to learn about LastPass. I like the password generation feature. I’m always interested in how others manage this challenging task. Cross-platform & cross-browser compatibility is a nice feature!

Agree with James about RoboForm. I use it to keep track of everything that has a password. It also has “safe notes” that are secure notepads. For example, when I setup a blog or a new domain, I copy all the information and dump it into a safe note. And thanks, James, for the link building tip using RoboForm. RoboForm Everywhere syncs computer, mobile, etc.

Oh, and Dawn…I read this post and learned you changed jobs. Congrats!

Dawn Wentzell

@Dana! Thanks lady 🙂 The change happened a while ago, but seems we rarely cross paths on teh twitters these days.

The secure notes feature sounds awesome. It’s funny though, you and James seem to love RoboForm, but several others are not fans. To each their own, I guess.

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