Passwords on Paper

Sometimes this can be the best way


Why are we bringing ink and paper into this?

Passwords can be a tricky thing. They need to be random, long, and unique but we also need to remember them. In most cases, this problem is solved by using a password manager. And you definitely should opt for a password manager!

For those that either can't use a password manager or just haven't reached that step in their security journey, I recommend using good ol' pen and paper.

It's far from perfect! But I believe that it does provide better theoretical security than other commonly used methods of storing passwords. This is especially true is only used temporarily, or while memorizing a new password.

Example of an index card for temporary passwords

Example of an index card for temporary passwords

Some commonly used password storage methods that I believe you shouldn't use:

  • Spreadsheets, documents, or text files
    • on your laptop or desktop
    • in Google Drive
    • in Office 365
  • Built-in password managers
    • in your web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari)
    • on your mobile device
  • Mobile device note apps

Take care when using passwords on paper:

  • Don't let others see them
  • Don't leave them on your desk
  • Don't stick them your monitor or anything else
  • Don't put them under your keyboard
  • Do store them somewhere very safe when you don't need to see them
  • Do change them right way if your paper is exposed

If I had to choose between unique passwords for all accounts written on paper or a single password reused everywhere, I would choose the unique passwords on paper. But I strongly encourage using a proper password manager over either practice.

At the very least, paper isn't connected to the internet.

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