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Bookmark managers

Accessing your internet bookmarks on any PC is handier than emailing links to yourself. But what makes an online-bookmarking site useful is its social-networking aspect: the ability to share bookmarks with anyone.

Del.icio.us - Recommended
The most popular page on the original social-bookmarking site, Del.icio.us features the latest and geekiest tech news as bookmarked and tagged by the site's one million-plus registered users. You can use the site to find recipes, podcasts or the most relevant pages on a topic of interest.

While it may be hard to remember how to spell the name, using Del.icio.us simply requires two toolbar links – one for your list of links, the other for adding and tagging pages. It uses a Craigslist-style interface with one field for notes and another for tags.

To make things easier, Del.icio.us suggests tags for a bookmark based on other users' tags. Since tags are the only organising method, it can be hard to find a link later if your tags aren't consistent. Del.icio.us lets you import and export bookmarks, keep tabs on other users' links and mark certain links as private.

Magnolia Del.icio.us' younger, prettier sibling requires only a single toolbar link. Conveniently, Magnolia grabs a web page's description from the underlying HTML and automatically adds it, so you need only to tag the item. Other useful features include a quick five-star rating system and a Keep Private button which is displayed by default.

Like del.icio.us, Magnolia easily imports and exports bookmarks. But with a smaller user base, its library isn't as useful.

StumbleUpon This is an odd social-bookmarking site whose real purpose is to show you new sites without you having to search for them. To use StumbleUpon, you have to install a toolbar with a button that, when clicked, takes you at random to cool sites in categories that you select.

You can then vote the site up or down, review it and choose to add it to your bookmarks list. You can bookmark a site without leaving the page via the toolbar, although this isn't intuitive.

You have to hunt in StumbleUpon's preferences menu to turn on its best feature, Search Links, which appends user ratings and reviews to search-engine results in Ask.com, Live.com, Yahoo and Google.

StumbleUpon's main drawbacks are its busy interface, its continual insistence that you join its social network and the necessity of installing yet another toolbar.

Fortunately, you can minimise the toolbar and use keyboard shortcuts to stumble and vote sites up or down. Unfortunately, there's no shortcut to simply bookmark a page. How (or whether) the site will change now it's been bought by eBay is anyone's guess.

Furl Furl saves a local copy of every page you bookmark on its site, and it's the only site here that indexes the full text of these pages so that you can search them. Nevertheless, Furl's relatively drab interface makes it feel like a mid-90s tool for librarians.

Magnolia

Magnolia is younger and better looking than Delicious

Password managers

New web services have inevitably led to an overflow of logins and passwords, which many people foolishly cope with by reusing passwords or creating an unencrypted password file. A better solution is an online service that can help you organise your passwords for access at a moment's notice.

Just1Key This is the only online password-storage service with real security. To prevent hackers grabbing your passwords Just1Key uses a Java applet in a browser window, into which you enter your central password; the applet encrypts the password before sending it to the server. Just1Key sends your passwords list back to you in encrypted form; the applet then decrypts the list so you can read it.

You can cut-and-paste passwords as needed, but the software is barebones. Passwords are kept in a single list, which can be unwieldy. There's no search, import or export functionality, but you can access your passwords on a mobile device so long as its browser is capable of an SSL-based login.

PasswordSafe The free passwordsafe.com relies solely on SSL for password transmission and there's no indication about what kind of encryption it uses on the server side. The interface (JavaScript-free) is uncluttered, has a search function and a password generator, and lets you create categories.

It's a great way to store passwords for non-sensitive sites, but that's it.

Agatra The creators of this beta site claim it encrypts passwords using the Blowfish algorithm, but it asks you to log in to an unsecured home page. Agatra sends your passwords via an SSL connection to your browser. For the most popular sites, Agatra will automatically log you in.

This convenience may not make up for the security weaknesses raised by the site's reliance on inherently vulnerable JavaScript.

Quick links

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Get the latest broadband internet news, reviews, downloads and tutorials at PC Advisor's Broadband Advisor website

See also, Office 2007 alternative: best free online office software


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