A new release of a popular utility for managing and securing passwords provides a place to store all your personal information.
By Chris Smith
I have written in the past of the importance of having solid passwords to protect your data. I haven't offered, however, any convenient and inexpensive utilities to manage passwords at home, in the office, or on the road. One such utility that has recently been released following a complete rewrite is Password Profiler 2. This automated password filler enables you to log into Web sites and quickly complete lengthy registration and checkout forms, allows you to save logins to frequently visited sites, and provides for multiple profiles for separating business and personal information.
Password Profiler has been around for about five years, and many people have taken advantage of its convenient features. Unfortunately, the database files used in the original version and those in the new version are neither interchangeable nor compatible. So if you are a current user, your choices include 1) keep using what you have, 2) re-key the data into the latest version, or 3) wait until the development team comes through with a tool to migrate the old data files into the new (there is a possibility such a tool may be forthcoming, as users have complained in the product's forums about the inconvenience of migrating to PP2). Nevertheless, for those who are willing to re-key data or are newbies to the application, following are a few items to consider.
These are some of the features in Password Profiler 2:
•· Password encryption
•· An advanced artificial intelligence engine for accurate form-fill
•· Password saving and filling that is not intrusive
•· Support for Firefox as well as Internet Explorer 6 and 7
•· Minimal consumption of resources
•· Shared logins between Internet Explorer and Firefox
Password Profiler 2 is a utility offered directly by PCMag.com, which charges for it before permitting you to download it, but the cost is minimal at $7.97. For a little more than double that fee, however, you can have access to more than 140 exclusive utilities from the PCMag.com library.
When installing PP2, you get to specify whether you want to use both Firefox and Internet Explorer. A wizard will take you through installation, where you can specify various other options pertaining to automatically saving forms with passwords and retaining the option to automatically fill forms that have been previously saved. You can, however, return to change these preferences at a later time. You will have to re-boot in order to complete the installation of the add-ons for each browser you intend to use.
Once up and running, you can use PP2 to fill in Web site registrations, check-out forms, and banking forms. You can launch the program from within your browser by selecting the PP2 icon in the status bar. Options in the menu that now presents itself include locking the PP2 database, launching the program window, saving a form, and filling a form using either saved profile data or data saved from a previous site visit. You can also add additional data fields within each profile if you occasionally register at a site with an alternate address, say from work.
If you open the default profile folder, you will be asked for personal, address, contact, credit card, and banking information. Once you've entered all your data in PP2, you can fill in forms by selecting "fill form using profile" through the dialog that prompts you to select a profile.
One of the most common ways business people lose data today is by losing or having someone steal their laptops. PP2 allows you to lock others out of your password data with a master password you create from a dialog in the Edit Master Password menu. An elegant feature of the application is that it does not store this master password anywhere on your system or even in the program's memory. Needless to say, lose the master password or forget it, and you will have a very tough time indeed in getting into PP2. Using a master password is the trigger for PP2 to encrypt your data, something most business users will want. It's worth noting, however, that for reasons of flexibility, URLs that are stored in PP2 are not encrypted. This does not affect stored passwords, however, which still are encrypted when you use a master password.
The database where PP2 stores your information is a standard SQL database, making it fairly easy to merge or replace tables between databases with SQL commands should you need to sync your files with another user. However, PP2 doesn't support multiple file rules at the present time. You can, however, set up multiple files and designate one as the default. In the File menu, there are options to restore, back up, and compact the database, as well as an option showing information about the database, including how many records it contains and the last time you backed up.
For people, such as me, who like to print out their passwords, and then save them in a dark corner somewhere, like the backyard well, PP2 allows you to print out all your profiles and saved site-forms. You can also print them to a file.
While Password Profiler 2 has its limitations, it offers a convenient, low-cost, and secure improvement over the haphazard systems many of us have devised over the years. The small entry fee is a minor investment to acquire a fairly robust means of protecting and managing your individual passwords.