Work on this started 20230614

I use keepassxc

Password managers are essential

We are adding more and more of our personal, financial and legal information to computers. Computers are growing in importance. The same way that people tend to lock their homes before they leave, it's important that everyone learns how to lock their digital information too.

Often when you mention how a password manager, I get a response which involves a complaint regarding friction. Yes, it's going to be more annoying to have a password manager than to not have one in certain circumstances. It's also more annoying to carry keys to open your house than not to - yet you still do that. Why not pay a little in terms of convenience when it comes to safety online?

What are your choices?

There are basically two different types of password managers:

  1. Cloud based password managers.
  2. Offline password managers.

Option (1) has the advantage of taking a lot of the friction worry away from using a password manager. You don't have to deal with sync or backups. The risk with option (1) is that your secrets are now in some computer on the internet. You are trusting that the company managing that computer has really good security. Also, that company could decide to dis-allow you access to your secrets at any point in time.

Option (2) avoids the drawbacks of option (1) but now it obliges you to find a way to sync your secrets to different computers and phones. Also, you will have to find a way to backup your secrets to make sure that if your machines break or something like that, that you are able to get your data back!

I only use option (2), and more specifically keepassxc.

About keepass and keepassxc

Keepass is a password manager which became famous enough to spawn a lot of different ports. These ports use the same file structure, that means that you can open the password database created by one port in another - the same way you can send email from Google to Yahoo. One of those ports is keepassxc.

When you startup keepassxc it asks you if you want to create a new data-base. Once you select that and provide a password, it will create a small file on your computer. That one file contains all the passwords that you will create. You will be able to access all those files by using the master password that you created (and can change) using keepassxc when you got started.

Since it's a simple file, that means that you can use a lot of different services to keep that one file in sync in other computers or phones: rsync, syncthing, dropbox, google drive or any other such service. When it comes to backup, it can be as sophisticated or simple as you want. I just put the file into a USB key from time to time.

Power-user features of keepassxc

There are programs like pass that have only power users in mind. I find that keepassxc strikes a nice balance of offering a user interphase as well as some power user features.

This short video explains these power user features better than I could in text.

I am especially happy with the SSH key integration. It's amazing to be able to have portable SSH keys that I can take to other computers with me.