Q:

What is a password manager?

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Quick Answer

A password manager is a software tool that allows users to enter a single password to retrieve, and often automatically insert, for a variety of online websites. These tools help prevent users from using the same password on multiple websites for easy remembering and often require users to only remember one password for access while supplying a different password for every site used.

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Full Answer

Many password managers include the ability to create long strings of randomized alphanumeric passwords that are very hard to guess and add an extra layer of security to password use. Password managers often come as built-in options for web browsers or standalone programs that start up whenever users log into their computers. Some are web-based, storing passwords in the cloud for use anywhere around the world. Web browsers that offer to sync across multiple systems also keep managed passwords in a cloud-based system.

Password managers, especially those used with browsers or those that generate long strings as passwords, are typically encrypted to prevent unauthorized access by others. Browser-based managers tend to be less secure, as anyone with access to the browser on the computer may apply the passwords without the need for further confirmation. Password managers come in paid, free and open-source varieties, with open-source managers often benefiting from the extra boost to security provided by community scrutiny of the software.

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