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Fix Firefox’s password scheme

Filed in: design, vent, Web, Thu, Nov 30 2006 11:58 PT

I’ve had a problem with how my browser memorizes passwords for a while now, and I’m certainly not alone. Since the holy grail of identity management appears to be a long ways away, I think it’s time to address it.
When I enter a username and password, Firefox helpfully offers to remember it. This is good, and helpful, if you know your username and password. My problem is that I have hundreds of accounts scattered all over the place, and I can never be sure that the username and/or password I am entering is correct. If it’s not, and I tell Firefox to remember it, then I am guaranteed to be starting with the wrong credentials on subsequent visits. Only I won’t know it until I try signing in. That’s a less than stellar user experience.

The problem compounds itself on sites where the form sends you to another page in the site’s hierarchy. Then, you may store the correct username and password combination on that other page, and Firefox will remember them both. And as a result, you’ll go to log in on a site’s front page, then fail, but then be sent to that second page, which will let you in. I had to do that for years with Vonage, having forgotten that the original username and password I provided were useless.

It seems a better way to store new usernames and passwords would be to ask whether to store them after the transaction has been completed. So once you submit the form, and you know whether your credentials have been accepted, you can inform the browser to continue. If not, you can go back and try again. But in any case, you will not be saving bad credentials that will continue to come back and bite you each time you forget whether you used this password or that, or whether you’re bob or bobsmith or bobs or bobsmith@gmail.com or b0b_l0l_360 at any given site you have visited.

Am I alone in this, or does this seem like a useful feature request?

6 Responses to “Fix Firefox’s password scheme”

  1. Kristen says:

    I frequently have this problem. In order to avoid it in Firefox I say “do not save password” the first time around and then immediately log out and log back in if what I entered works and have it save it that time around.

    I hear you, though. It’s tough when it remembers passwords to a site that requires you to change your password on a regular basis as well.

  2. Even better, use the password generator bookmarklet:
    http://www.angel.net/~nic/passwdlet.html

    A different password for each site, and neither you nor FIrefox has to remember any of them.

  3. Asgo says:

    Even better, remember your passwords…

  4. harold says:

    I use the exact same system as Kristen. I still sometimes manage to mess it up though :(.

  5. Trevor Fooks says:

    I use Firefox almost exclusively, but I find the password function inadequate. I use Roboform (roboform.com), which is a very sophisticated solution to the problem.

  6. Ven Swap says:

    I guess you’re not alone in this. The only way I get around this is just as mentioned above, I use a different password for each site.

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