I’m old enough to remember the days when it was possible to keep all the “secrets” you needed in your head – a PIN for your bank account, a combination for a lock on your suitcase or bike lock, one username and password for your account at work, another for your personal webmail.
As time went by, the number of usernames and passwords I needed grew and grew. Eventually it wasn’t possible to remember them all – at this point, I began to either reuse the same password again and again (bad idea) or write them down (which is actually a fairly good strategy).
Eventually I decided enough was enough – it was time to get a proper password manager. After looking at a few, I settled on KeePass, a free and open-source password manager. It was ideal for my needs as it had been ported to Linux as KeePassX. KeePass is very simple to use – you create a password database, protect it with a single, strong, password, and use save all your other usernames and passwords in the database.
So that I can access my passwords on all my machines, I store the KeePass database in Dropbox.
There is now also a free iPhone app, MiniKeePass, which can read KeePass databases, although unlike KeePass it doesn’t automatically update the database file with any changes you make to it.
Obviously, the problem with KeePass (as with all password managers) is that you are putting all your eggs in one basket – if someone can access your KeePass database, all your credentials are compromised.