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Simple steps to avoid the dreaded ‘access denied’

Your Life

Simple steps to avoid the dreaded ‘access denied’

Passwords can be the bane of our existence but EDIN READ explains how to make modern online life easier in remembering and keeping them safe.

With the growing number of accounts we use on our phones, computers and even TVs, there’s one thing that always seems to be an issue: passwords.

We sign up to new accounts, telling ourselves the lie that we’ll remember them and the next time we go to log in, it’s ‘access denied’. In addition to not remembering them, it’s a case of not being sure which password is for which account.

I founded Greyology over two years ago, and passwords has been a continual issue for most clients ever since. After much deliberation over the best way forward, I can confidently say that I have found the best way to store passwords in a cost-efficient and easy manner: a simple, well-laid-out, physical notebook.

Commonly, I see an attempt at a password book which is often not future proofed. It’s a good idea to write down your passwords and keep it secure somewhere. But when you start being unable to read your writing, with white-out all over the page and little notes scrawled, it helps no one.

The notebook should have one account per page. Listed at the top: the username/email associated with the account, as well as any information required for that account. Listed underneath that is the password for the account, as well as the date this password was created.

This means that if the account asks you to update your password or create a new one, you can simply put it on the line below and date it. That ensures no more uncertainty about which password is valid or if there is a new password written on another page.

Please note that you should never write down your complete password. Asterisk (***) out the body of the password, just in case anyone with bad intentions was to get hold of this information.

In addition to this, keep your password book secure – as if it was as valuable as a wad of cash, as usually it is more valuable than that. Ensure you write your passwords clearly, and if you make a mistake, cross it out and rewrite it underneath. Trying to write over passwords may save you time today, but it will cause you pain when you go to type it in again in the future.

Indicate clearly if a letter is capitalised: I personally use an underline to demonstrate a capital. Some use a different coloured pen. Ensure you cross out your zeros so there is no doubt as to if it is an ‘O’ or a ‘Ø’.

You might be thinking, “Edin, don’t be silly. Google saves my passwords for me or I keep them saved in a document on my computer. Why on earth would I need to write down my passwords for someone to steal?”

Well, the reason I say this is because I have seen password managers go wrong time after time after time. Firstly, usually you don’t have people you don’t trust in your home in the first place to take your book. This is a valued consideration. However, on your computer, it is becoming harder to manage who has access. Many times have I seen clients give remote access to a stranger via a program on their computer as a part of a scam.

Remote access has a time and place, but you should never let someone remote access your computer if you have saved passwords. If you can see your passwords on your computer, so can they. In my opinion, it is fine to save some passwords on your computer – but only passwords that are unique and wouldn’t cause devastation if someone were to access them.

Your login to golf or bridge, for example, wouldn’t be an issue. Your bank password or myGov should never be saved by anyone or anything. It simply puts you at too much risk.

Follow these steps and you should have more security and fewer forgotten passwords.

 Edin Read is founder and chief technician at Greyology Tech Support for Seniors. Visit

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