Weighing the hassle of a password program against the convenience

The premium version of Dashline costs $20 per year and will synch your passwords to all your computers, tablets and mobile devices.

There are two ways to handle passwords. You can either use the same password for all the websites you visit or you can generate bullet-proof ones like noah436jduri8k0. The first way is not recommended for obvious reasons. Once a hacker realizes that you're using the same password for everything from your bank's website to your sign-on to the online barber college you're enrolled in, your privacy will, sooner or later, be as secure as running around with a sandwich board that says, "Hack me - my password is 1234." The second way is far more secure if you have a photographic memory.

The third way, which most computer users don't think of, is a password program. There's no shortage of utilities that not only will fill in your sign-on and password, but they will generate hacker-proof passwords that are highly secure, except to exceptional hackers who can worm their way into your PC no matter how secure you think it is. Roboform comes to mind, especially since it's also mobile - you can install the program, along with your passwords, on a thumb drive. It's pricey, though you get your money's worth.

Along comes an updated version of Dashlane, a mostly free program that remembers your sign-on and password, generates hack-proof passwords, fills in forms and keeps electronic receipts of your online purchases. It's also an obnoxious pain. Although I tried mightily to turn it off, it still offered to store my passwords, fill in forms and otherwise supply information to sites I would rather it didn't remember. To get rid of those remembered sites, I had to delete the site's icon from the main menu. Still, every time I logged on to those sites Dashlane remembered sign-ons and passwords or offered to "learn" them.

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You're asked to set up a master password to make Dashlane work, but on one of my PCs, I didn't have to input the master password. True, you can only change a regular password only by typing in the master password, but the sign-on is there for all to see. That's just not acceptable.

Dashlane will sync all your passwords to different PCs and Macs, smartphones, iPads and the like if you spring for the premium version, at $20 a year. Twenty bucks a year? How about 20 bucks forever?

There are better, less obnoxious password programs out there. I like Norton Identity Safe, which comes free with Norton Internet Security. Roboform is less intrusive. If you insist on using the same password for every site you visit, you're asking for trouble. On the other hand, remembering every unique password is fine until you're tortured by enemy agents to give up your passwords.

Dashlane has received rave reviews in some quarters. The New York Times tech writer loved it. It's always possible that my experience was unique. You can decide for yourself by downloading the program at dashlane.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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