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The 5 best portable password tools

Never forget a username or password again

If you've got hundreds of passwords to remember, fear not. We've rounded up the five best password tools that are all accessible either from a portable device (such as a USB stick) or over the web.

Password Hash

Another free browser-based option takes an entirely different approach to password security. If you have the Pwdhash (Password Hash) add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer installed, pressing F2 prior to typing in a password runs that password through some mathematical 'hashing’ calculations.

The end result is a unique and strong password that transmits to the site and doesn't have to be saved anywhere; meanwhile, you have to remember only one password. The tool will always generate the same password for the same site (provided you give it the same starter password), even if you use a different browser. If you're at a PC where you can't install the add-on, you can instead visit the PwdHash site to run the calculations manually, after which you can simply cut and paste the resultant password.

OpenID

Wouldn't it be nice to use one account to log in to many different sites? Try OpenID. First sign up for free with your choice of OpenID provider; the pool includes big names such as Flickr, Verisign and Yahoo. Then, when you visit a site that supports the technology, give it your OpenID. You'll be sent to your provider for verification. Once you're vetted, which might require you to provide a password or correctly identifying pre-selected elements of an image map, the provider tells the original site that you're okay, and voilà, you're logged in.

Not many sites use OpenID yet, largely because some security risks, such as phishing, still threaten the relatively new system. But you can save yourself a fair amount of hassle by using it for those nonsensitive sites that do support it.

ID Vault

Guard ID's USB drive can securely store all your online account data, and it can help guard against phishing by launching a stripped-down custom browser for use with financial accounts. While it's easy to use, it's not cheap: It costs $50 (£25) plus a $40 (£20) yearly subscription renewal. Before you can use the device with a given PC, you'll need to install downloadable software (available for Windows XP or Vista).

Then you can add accounts from a list of known financial or shopping sites or input data for other accounts you specify. From then on, you connect the thumb drive, right-click the ID Vault system-tray icon, and select an account. After you provide a numeric code (which you choose during the device setup), ID Vault logs you in.

  1. Never forget a username of password with these apps 
  2. Password Hash

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