How Many Passwords Can A Person Remember?


“Forgot Your Password?” or “Time to change your Password” or “Password please?” are questions guaranteed to mess with your productivity and incite password rage. I call it password insanity. Password Password Password!

Why do we require so many passwords and why do we have to keep changing them? And how many passwords can a person remember anyway? And how are we as seniors famous for losing our glasses and carkeys regularly, expected to remember the numerous passwords and user IDs we are now burdened with? There are just too many user names and passwords to remember!

I have an address book not so much filled with phone numbers, addresses and email addresses, but instead full of passwords current and expired, crossed or whited out with new ones noted, pins and user IDs included  – all growing in sheer volume.

Being prompted to change one’s password, pin or user ID right at the point where we finally remember them is an invitation to headbanging.  And how on earth are we supposed to retain all this information when we are urged to change all three regularly?

In addition to the frustration of having to create new passwords on a regular basis, trying different combinations and being refused until you finally get it right, you then have to recall which one worked as you were writing them down until one was accepted – because the password was not long enough, or required a capital letter or a number or special symbol. Hopefully you did write them all down and saved the right one, or did you?

Computer frustration

When Your Address Book Becomes the Burdensome Password Encyclopedia

I know that if you are a business person you probably have a binder full of passwords. When traveling, and before you pack your socks or underwear, you need to ensure that information accompanies you. That binder contains the keys to your kingdom: banking passwords, courier user IDs, auction passwords, transport user names, computer login information and an exhaustive list of internet information needed to access any information belonging to you.

Questioning the Need for Password Protection?

I am an admitted victim of password rage and believe use of passwords has exceeded the need. But could I be wrong? What do I really know about the dangers of having one’s password hacked? Is all this emphasis on security really necessary or has caution gone overboard? How real are the risks that someone might want to log into an online course in which you’re currently enrolled and take the exams for you? How prevalent is it that miscreants might log into your courier account and book a pick-up? or a pizza online?

Password exasperation

Then from one security company comes this advice:

Users should never write down their passwords, as that makes it easier for the passwords to be stolen and used by someone else.”  Never write down or record a password? Excuse me? I have a 3 ring binder filled with pages of companies I use along with user IDs, pins and passwords. And need I reiterate about seniors and their capacity to lose or misplace things on a regular basis  – in additopm to password recall. There has to be a better way…

Enter: The Cloud. The Cloud has its advantages. It remembers your passwords so you don’t have to. But is it really secure?  Unfortunately even the Cloud has issues.

Has the Internet Become the New Frontier for Theft?

Apparently. Data stored in the Cloud can be accessed. Servers can crash. Irreplaceable pictures can disappear. Weak passwords can be accessed.

Security professionals caution us not to use the same password for multiple accounts and services because doing so can open an individual up to hacking and access to all your accounts. Thieves count on the fact that many people can’t remember more than one password and will use that one password liberally. Once discovered, that one password is THE key that will unlock volumes of private data.

Hackers are busy 24/7. More directed to companies, the following article highlights the horrors when a data breach takes place because the personal information of millions of individual users is involved:

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Activating 2-factor authentication is recommended where you provide a phone number at which you can be reached. If there is a suspected breach of your account, the possession factor verifies that you really are you and warns of any suspicious activity.

Then there are Password Management Services who will generate hard to guess passwords and save them to devices frequently used to access cloud storage services. Password “managers” will store your passwords for you. Yes, you read that right – now there are “password managers” – Key Pass, Sticky Password, Roboform and 1Password are just a few worth investigating.

It is also recommended that you back up your data to local sources. This won’t be much comfort if your bank account is accessed but saving all your other data in the event of the Cloud being compromised will help you sleep at night. Keep critical data close to your place of operations and back up to those very sources.

Know that software and hardware failure can contribute to data breaches in the Cloud, as can user error.

How Best to Secure Your Data In the Cloud?

Security experts recommend using Cloud Services that encrypt data and use strong passwords. Five of the more secure Cloud storage options in 2020 are: Dropbox, pCloud, iDrive, Spider Oak and Microsoft One Drive. All Cloud storage companies provide different features as well as varying fee schedules, but some are free.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

We are now online-dependent for basically everything: banking, email, socializing, news, chat rooms, shopping, educational courses and general information seeking.

Few can imagine living without the Internet and when it goes down on occasion, we are lost. Today it is almost unthinkable that we could live without it. So we must weigh the benefits alongside the realities of password rage and password insanity, heed the security experts, and do what we can to protect our data. Believe the experts and follow their recommendations on keeping your information safe by not providing the keys to the city to hackers and online criminals. Yes, there are too many usernames and passwords to remember, but consider the alternative and be grateful for the Cloud, there to assist.

As data breaches scale up, so too must our determination to be protected.

So please excuse me now as I’m off to interview a “password manager” and begin backing up my data right here, right now in my home office.

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