Keeping track of one password is easy enough, but tracking dozens of them or even hundreds can be problematic. It's hard to remember many of them, and to write them down would defeat the purpose of keeping passwords discrete in the first place.
KeePass typically works by using a master password or passphrase to unlock the database. It is also possible to use a physical key disk, such as removable USB "pen" drive or a floppy disk, as the database key. For even greater security, you can combine the two approaches. The passwords themselves can be organized and presented according to many different sort/search criteria, grouped together, or arranged hierarchically.
You can export password lists (although only if you really need to!), import them from CSV files, transfer them between instances of the program, or generate them on demand. (If you've ever needed to machine-generate a whole list of passwords on demand for new installations in an organization, this is one way to do it.)
Here's one of the best features of the program: You can use it to fill in a password field automatically (in a Web page form, for instance) without having to retype anything. The password itself doesn't even have to be exposed.
The program also has a plug-in architecture that makes it possible to expand on the program's basic functionality. A few such plug-ins have already been written -- for instance, an XML importer. In addition, the authors created multiple language resource files for the program, including Japanese, Polish, Russian and Hebrew!
The entire project is open-source, which keeps it from being compromised in turn. The most recent version of the program is 0.98b, but don't let the 0.x revision number scare you off: It is already quite functional and reliable.
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of The Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!
This was first published in May 2005