Killer Download: Fill out forms and generate secure passwords

Use one of these programs to remember just one master password, and let the program generate secure passwords and fill-in the log-in info.

Killer Download

As an Internet worker, I surf hundreds of different Web sites daily. A good portion of those--including online e-mail services, Web-based work tools, and members-only message boards--require a log-in information before I can gain access. In addition to sites and services that require only a login and password, I also occasionally need to fill out forms when I register for software, sign-up for a new service, or buy something online.

You might think it's not a huge amount of trouble to fill in log-in information, but if you're like most people, you use the same password (or a variation) for every site you visit. Though this makes your password easy to remember, it also means that if someone cracks your one password, they can get into any site for which you use that log-in information. Fortunately there are Password Managers to eliminate that problem by making you remember only one master password locally on your machine, and then generate secure passwords for all your favorite sites.

One thing I should mention about these types of programs is that they have an initial set-up process before you can let them manage all of your passwords. You'll usually need to create a master password and then set up accounts for your many log-ins. Though there's a little work involved in the beginning, once you're up and running, you'll be logging into all your favorite Web sites and filling out forms faster than ever before. You also can rest assured that your passwords are close to impossible to crack.

Password Agent Lite
Quickly grab all the info for each account using a familiar Windows Explorer interface (Credit: CNET Networks)

Password Agent Lite lets you create groups of related sites--online pay sites , for example)--and then lets you add log-in, credit card, and other secret information for each site. Password Agent Lite generates secure passwords for you, so you'll need to remember only a master password to gain access to all your info. The initial set-up for Password Agent Lite isn't immediately obvious, so I recommend checking out the tutorial in the help menu to get started. This application is the only one of the group that is for passwords only--the other two also help you to fill in forms.

WebM8 provides space for a huge database of password and log-in information (Credit: CNET Networks)

WebM8 also fills in your log-ins and forms for you, and adds the convenience of a drop-down menu for forms requiring more than the standard log-in and password. WebM8 works with almost any browser, and it encrypts your log-ins, passwords, and other private info by using the Blowfish algorithm with a 256-bit key so you don't have to worry if you share your computer with other users. Just like Password Agent Lite, you'll want to check out the help file to get started. As I said, most of these programs are tricky in the beginning, but well worth the effort once you go through the setup process.

Roboform lets you choose the type of password characters you use for restrictive sites. (Credit: CNET Networks)

RoboForm is my long-time favorite for filling out forms. I use this one to quickly fill out software registration information, billing addresses, and online forms, all by using the small window that pops up every time I need something filled in. I've pointed out that these programs work great once you've trained them. Roboform almost trains itself. Roboform pays attention when you fill out forms, so once you save your address, from then on Roboform will fill in the information for you. The password manager for Roboform also requires only one master password, and then it remembers all the rest. Roboform uses AES encryption to ensure your private information stays safe.

If you find yourself filling out way too many forms, or you need an easy way to keep track of log-ins and passwords, grab one of these programs. Once you get used to them and go through the set-up process, you'll love how easy it is to log into any site.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.