Last updated 3 Nov 2023

Recording your Important Information

There’s nothing worse than a pile of passwords written on the backs of envelopes and bits of old paper. They get lost, it can be hard to tell which password is for which account, and when there are alternatives, you never know which the latest one is.

So invest in one (or more) of the following:


Just about every letter – and every number – can be confused with something else, and your record needs to be legible to someone other than yourself. I don’t want to see you ill, in hospital or pass away, but you know. Just in case.

Print out the second page of the GoggleboxTech Record Book and use it to think about those easily confused pairs and groups of characters, and fill in the way you will write them.

A Notebook

You might be writing in a book, but still use the Record Book to guide you, so nothing important gets left out. Use it for:

  • Email accounts
  • Banks, building societies, PayPal and other financial
  • Phone companies
  • Government websites (TV licence, pension, DVLA etc.)
  • Any company you have registered your details with, e.g. because you bought some of their software (don’t lose your licence when you need to re-install)
  • Other websites, including health.

I suggest you take a page for each account. Write the name of the account at the top, then list:

  • username (usually an email address)
  • the password
  • the date last changed
  • any other information needed like PIN or memorable word
  • List the information you gave them (e.g. alternative contact details) so if any of those change, you know who needs to be informed.
  • If you change a password, strike out the old one leaving it legible, write in the new and the date. (If something goes wrong, knowing old passwords may help you prove that you legitimately own the account.)
  • Don’t forget to note their emergency numbers, as you may need them in a hurry.
  • Store it very safely!

The GoggleboxTech Record Book

Download and print out this useful template. If you get one of the editable formats, you can adapt it as necessary.

Updated July 2023. Now has page for NHS information.

RecordBook.odt for LibreOffice, OpenOffice and Microsoft WordDownload
RecordBook.pdf for Adobe Reader and other PDF readers Download

Please read the directions and start to fill it in. You can either edit it on your computer, which makes for clear printouts and lets you copy & paste where possible, or you can fill in by hand. But in either case, you must store it very carefully. The document would be a treasure trove for any criminal!

  • If you have a safe, use it. Don’t leave the record lying around after use but lock away immediately.
  • Otherwise, hide it in plain sight. Just like thieves always look under the doormat and flowerpots for keys, avoid the sorts of places they might think you would think of, like the airing cupboard, or the toilet cistern. You are not in a spy film! Hide it among other similar objects such as bills or recipes from magazines, but not in something that might get thrown out one day when tidying.
  • Do not keep in the same room as the computer.
  • Make sure your family or representatives know where it is.
  • If you save the filled-in document on your computer, you must encrypt it. See: How to encrypt your sensitive files (Coming soon). If the computer were to be stolen, it would be in plain view without even logging onto the machine unless you encrypt.

Security advice is given in good faith but must be used with discretion. I can accept no responsibility for loss of any sort however caused.

A Password Manager

A Password Manager in Action

A password manager is a piece of software that installs as a web browser extension. Put simply, it is an encrypted database or list that stores your username and password for all the websites you need to log in to. Because it is right there in the browser while you are on the Internet, it can capture those details while you log in (and whenever the details change), and from then on fill the credentials in automatically for you. All you have to do is enter a single master key for the database.

So it’s pretty simple: you can have a different password for every single account, the passwords can be long and completely random for security, and you don’t need to remember or type any of them. It is all handled automatically. Neither do you have to make up new passwords, because it generates them for you.

Using one is a no-brainer. It actually makes your life easier while making you many, many times safer than using easily-remembered (and thus easily guessed or cracked) passwords.

And there’s more: Other pieces of information can be stored securely in there too, such as additional codes or PINs some sites require. And it will synchronise the list between other computers and devices, including any smartphones and tablets you have. All automatically.

Am I making this sound really simple? It really is! And it’s something you should do because using the same password for multiple sites, or using short, easily typed ones, is a sure-fire way of getting hacked, which will bring a mountain of woe. If you’re still saying, ‘Oh, it all sounds very complicated,’ then I’m just not explaining it right. Everyone I have explained it to in real life says ‘it all sounds very complicated’, so I know I do that. But when I show them, they say, ‘well, that’s pretty simple’. So please look at this page (Coming soon) which tries to do just that.

You are probably even using one without realising, because the popular browsers have one built in. I recommend using a third-party one because of the extras, especially the ability to store those additional PINs etc. that you need. But even using the built-in managers is safer than not using one at all.

Now, some of you turned off at the word ‘install’. Don’t worry. I list the steps and it doesn’t take long.

Others worry about security. Can the list be hacked? The cryptography will be AES-256, a standard was established by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) over two decades ago, and has never been cracked. Not even by the US government with all the resources they have. So don’t lose your master key! Even the CIA couldn’t help you. Quite simply, with today’s technology, so long as you use a secure key (so not the names of your pets or young relatives, then) and keep it secret, the risk is very small. You’ll be surprised how quickly you learn the key too, now that you’ll be typing the same one every time.

Getting Rid of Passwords

There is no doubt that using passwords to authenticate is the bane of everyone’s life. Even with a password manager, you still need that master key. Speaking as someone with spanner fingers and a terrible memory, they can be pretty frustrating. But for some people especially, they can be next to impossible. If you suffer from:

  • dyslexia
  • dyspraxia
  • Parkinson’s
  • memory loss
  • sight loss
  • impatience
or a host of other things, they can be real barriers, and the temptation is to avoid them altogether. I still meet plenty of people who do not have a password set up on their computer! But there are real alternatives that don’t leave you exposed, and I discuss them here (Coming soon).
© Andrew Rowland 2022