Password managers, shared photos, backup data
Bob's Tech Talk
January 1, 2023 | View PDF
Q. I have promised myself that 2023 is the year I finally organize my passwords. What do I need to know?
A. The list of things we have to remember grows longer each year. As phones have become the center of our digital lives, almost everyone has more than a handful of hard to remember passwords.
Until now, my advice was to consider a commercial password manager app like 1Password or LastPass. However, as prices for these apps continue to rise, and as built-in smartphone features have improved, there are better choices available.
Many of these features only work on the newest devices, so older devices may need to stick with a password manager app for a while longer. But if you’re using up-to-date Android or iPhone devices, consider these options:
On Android, Google Safe Lock. On iPhone, iCloud Keychain. Both of these solutions store your passwords in the cloud and can fill in the appropriate fields when needed by the web browser.
A key advantage of cloud password storage is that your passwords remain accessible if you lose your device. As long as you remember your main password, the cloud-based passwords in these services are safe.
The iPhone can also create secure notes in its built-in Notes app. This allows you to store any information you want in an encrypted text note.
Think of a secure note as a word processing document that can be locked and unlocked. (In the last few months I was able to replace 1Password with a single secure note.)
The best way to organize your passwords is: 1) store all of them in one safe place; 2) that place should have a copy in the cloud; and 3) be protected by a password known only to you. That is it. There are many choices available, but any single method that meets these three criteria will serve you well.
Q. Is there a way to store photos taken with multiple iPhones in a single library?
A. The Shared Photo Library debuted in December as part of the latest round of software updates for Apple products.
Each device that uses this feature has to be running the most up-to-date software, which includes most devices released in the last five years or so.
To see if your device can support the Shared Photo Library, go to Settings -> General -> Software Update. If a new update is available, install it now. Once finished, the same screen should display iOS 16.2. Larger numbers are OK, smaller ones mean that device does not support it.
To turn on the Shared Photo Library, go to Settings-> tap your name -> iCloud -> Photos. That screen has a button that will allow you to set up a shared library.
This feature is easy to set up and easy to use, but it is complex enough that you may want to read this page first: support.apple.com/en-us/HT213248. It explains the different settings available.
Q. What is the best way to back up my data on my computer?
A. In 2023, the word computer could mean everything from a desktop PC to a smartphone, so let me break it down by device type.
If you have a traditional computer, either one that sits on a desk or on your lap, I recommend a service called Backblaze. Backblaze stores a copy of your disk in the cloud. A subscription is currently $7 a month, and it requires a speedy Internet connection. It is available for Windows and Mac at backblaze.com.
Smartphones, unlike traditional computers, cannot use Backblaze for data backup.
For Android phones, open the Google One app, tap “Storage” followed by “Backup.” Once configured via the “View Details” button, Google will automatically back up the entire contents of your Android device in the cloud.
For iPhones (and iPads), open the Settings app and tap your name at the top. On the next screen tap “iCloud,” and on the next screen tap “iCloud Backup.” The screen that appears has a switch labeled “Back up this Phone.”
Please take my word for it, you will never regret good backups, but eventually you will regret not backing up your data.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Random Street View
This website pulls up random images from Google Street View. Armchair traveling with a click or tap.
Searching for menu inspiration? Enter the food you have on hand into this website and it will offer recipes that turn ingredients into meals.
Tech Nerd Humor
This web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language is bursting with laughs and witty observations.
Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.