Digital Decluttering: Passwords

One of my ongoing projects is to make sure that all of the accounts I use are as secure as they possibly can be. I'm going to echo the sentiments of a digital decluttering post from my other blog to share my experience of the process of hardening account security.

I am not a fan of clutter anywhere, which I have expressed pretty much everywhere. I'm an unapologetic, unabashed minimalist, and that extends into my online presence. For me, it's helped the most to treat online accounts the same way I treat physical objects--if I don't want or need something, I get rid of it; if I don't want something but need it, I store it somewhere safe. Without further ado, let's jump in to my process:

  1. Set up a second password manager... assuming you have one already. In my case, I started with Google's password manager and wanted to switch to Bitwarden. You'll only have two password vaults until you finish cleaning up the original one. Some things get worse before they get better, I know.

  2. Start with the easiest keeper accounts. You'll build up the best momentum cleaning up your accounts when you start by transferring the few you want to keep the most. Once the easy accounts are done, move on to the accounts you don't want but have to keep--like anything for taxes or loans.

  3. Close accounts you don't use, if you can close them. It's wonderful when websites have a readily-available link to cancel or close accounts... and it is 100% infuriating when they don't. The easiest accounts to close were additional email accounts (with the caveat of not logging in for 60 days). Shopping accounts were also fairly easy, but some required filling out a form instead of just clicking a link and providing your credentials one last time. But then came complete garbage sites that required helpdesk emails that would never get answered. If I have to not log into an account for 30, 60, or 90 days to make sure it will actually close, I set a strong passphrase before completing the cancellation request and then I remove the credentials from password vaults so I won't log in accidentally.

  4. Move over the unwanted must-keep accounts and secure them with good passphrases. Where Bitwarden really wins my heart over and over is with their passphrase and password generator tool. I loathe having to keep a GRE results account that hasn't been relevant to me in 7 years, but it's a pill made easier to swallow when I can set a virtually uncrackable passphrase.

If you're one of the folx who has 90-130 online accounts and want to declutter, I really hope this post has helped, or at least provided inspiration. And if you're trying to escape social media, I'll offer another one of my older posts about digital decluttering and closing social media accounts

When I started my effort to declutter my password vault, I had almost 140 accounts. I still have about 20 accounts to evaluate, with just over 70 that I have kept and hardened with better passphrases and TFA wherever possible. Staying safe online can be a hellish endeavor, but having an organized approach makes it so much easier.

If you've tried digital decluttering, let us know how it went in the comments!