Thursday, 4 February 2016

Using KeePass for passwords

Using KeePass for Passwords

Ditch the little black book!

Let’s face it passwords are a pain to remember

Most people end up with a notebook full of handwritten cryptic notes; crossed out, changed, scribbled over, squinted at (what does this say??)

It isn’t practical and it isn’t secure

So I want to introduce you to a little program called KeePass
It isn’t the only program of its kind out there, but it has a few advantages
·       It’s free
·       It’s portable (meaning it doesn’t need to be installed, you just run from the location where you put its files)
·       You can put it in a usb drive, or Dropbox* or other online storage.
·       I use it myself, so I can help you from personal experience J

*I use Dropbox and I’ll explain why later in this info sheet

 Where to get it

Choose the professional edition 2.XX. At this writing the latest version is 2.31. You want the portable option

You will download a zipped file that contains all the files you need to get started.
Unzip those files to a directory of your choice. I unzipped mine to a folder in my Dropbox Directory. You can also unzip them to a USB Flash drive or just a folder on your PC. (Again I’ll explain the Dropbox option later)

Run the exe file
You will be presented with a new database. It’s all customizable
Even if your database came with pre-set groups you don’t have to keep them. You can simply right click on any entry or any group and Delete and entry or delete a whole group. You want to customize this database just how it makes sense to you.
You will start by creating a new database

Click the New icon or CTRL N

Name the database and pay attention to where you save it ( I save mine to the folder in Dropbox where I saved the program)
You will give it a master password
Now you add entries for all your various passwords. You can Group these into Groups

Under the edit menu you can add a group or add an entry

Try adding a group first – let’s say “Online Shopping”
Your new group will be added under whatever is highlighted in blue, so if you want a sub group under ‘General” for example make sure that is clicked so it highlights in blue. If you want it as a Group alone not as a sub group of anything just click to highlight at the very top where the name of your database is.

You can also add Groups and entries by right clicking. Right clicking on a folder gives you the option to add a new sub group
Right clicking within that group gives you the option to add an entry

(If read this and follow along with the program open it will all become clear!!)
Click on your new Group (eg Online Shopping) Right Click in the white area on the right

Once you have put in all the info click ok
That entry will now be remembered as long as you choose File, Save, before closing KeePass

If you have a long list of handwritten passwords it may take you awhile to input them all into Keepass but it will be worth it in the long run.

By default, when you see the entry the password will be hidden under asterisks and you have to open the entry to view it. I like to just see the password. To change that option, click the View menu and choose Configure Columns. The option is right at the bottom.
Uncheck the box if you don’t want the password to be hidden by asterisks

 Now let’s talk about Dropbox

Since Dropbox is online my KeePass Database is not on my home PC
I store the program in a folder in Dropbox
When I initially save the database I create (you can save more than one database – so one for each family member if you like, or one for personal and one for business)
I save it to that same folder

There is an app (android or iOS) free in the app store (Apple) or Google Play Store (Android) The one for Apple is called MiniKeePass. I believe the android one is called  Keepass2Android*

*I haven’t tested the Android one so I can’t speak for it

On your iPhone or iPad if you have the Dropbox app and the MiniKeePass app installed:
Open the Dropbox app
Navigate to the folder that you stored the database file in. It will have the name you gave it and end in .kdbx Click to open it. Dropbox will say it can’t preview it but you can choose the “open in” option and from the list of apps choose MiniKeePass

Now your database is available to view on your mobile device!
Your KeePass Database is locked with a master password that you are asked to create when you set it up. You DO need to remember that password.
 If you have a really bad memory create a document with a HINT (only a hint that will make sense to you!!) and store that in Dropbox too

This all may sound confusing but if you download the program first, follow the prompts, and read this guide with the program open, you will see that it’s not too complicated.

You can also check YouTube for tutorials (I searched for KeePass 2 for beginners but try searches with various wordings)
Look for ones that are fairly current as the program has been around for a while and older tutorials may not be as relevant to the newer versions

Once your Database is created you can put a shortcut to the program on your desktop, in the taskbar, in the Windows 10 Start menu, on your iPad home screen -  anywhere and everywhere that makes it easy to access. If you forget a password it’s quick to open KeePass, input your one master key and all your passwords will be there for you, all organized and easy to find.

It’s like that little black book, but digital, secure, and always with you (and no illegible, handwritten, crossed out, or chicken scratched entries J)

If you don’t use Dropbox, but keep the database on your PC, back it up often so that you don’t lose it.
I back mine up once in a while even though it is in Dropbox, but I’m fairly paranoid!
If you change a password for something, remember to update that entry in KeePass
One more tip:
If you want to input a password from KeePass into say a website form, you can copy and paste it from KeePass, which can be helpful for longer password. Some sites don’t allow that but most do.
If anyone would like to use this program and would like a hands on tutorial I can do a LogMeIn session with you, or a home visit, or phone support

This may sound daunting but once you start using it you won’t look back!

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