EPS: storing online account information

Scrambling to find the username and password for an account you need to access quickly is frustrating and stressful. If you want someone to help you manage these details, pick up the pieces after a unforeseen event, or assist others in doing so, you’ll need to have a central location for storing online account information. Some of you may be opposed to storing this information in the cloud, but please consider the option. It will save you time and make it much easier to keep current. If you decide to go with this option, you will need to store it somewhere secure on upload AND at rest – while it’s just sitting there.

Storing Online Account Information

Google Drive is one of the most secure places available for storing online account information. You may have heard of other cloud-based services, such as DropBox. Google Drive is different because DropBox is NOT collaborative; it’s only for storage. To maintain live documents that need to be updated regularly, Drive is much more versatile, and prevents you from having too many versions of the document out there. You can always download a document or folder from Drive to store locally if you prefer to have an additional copy, but please note – it won’t be the live version. Note: Google Drive has a desktop app that allows you to access the live version of your document locally, however I don’t recommend it. I’ve found the app slows my computer down significantly.

If you prefer to create it on paper, make sure you update it whenever you add a new account or change your passwords. It becomes a manual diary of your online life, so keeping it current is important. This method is more time consuming, but I understand some people don’t trust “the cloud.”

If you are going with my recommendation and using Drive, you’ll first need a Google account. Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. Launched on April 24, 2012, Google Drive allows users to store files in the cloud, synchronize files across devices, and share files.

Google Drive

To create a Google account:

  1. Go to www.google.com. …
  2. Click Create an account. …
  3. The sign up form will appear. … NOW, you have to decide right now – is this a personal account, or business? If it’s business, you will handle it differently. This advice is for personal only at this point. Your business account for your company or the company you work for should be separate from THIS account. Make a note of the username and password somewhere near you on paper for now. You’ll need it. Choose a secure password. Google is sophisticated enough to allow sentences and complex phrases. Example: “I grew up hating green beans!” could be your password with Google. Something that doesn’t give away your mother’s maiden name, the city you grew up in, favorite teacher – an inside joke, “Why’d the monkey fall out of the tree? Because it was dead.” Truly – anything like that.
  4. Review Google’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, click the check box, then click Next step…
  5. The Create your Profile page will appear … This can be minimal information. You can choose to not add a photo. Put a photo of your dog or something so that when you are logged in as this PERSONAL account, you won’t confuse it with your business accounts on Google.
  6. Your account will be created, and the Google welcome page will appear.
  7. At that point, login and in the upper right side (as of 5/23/2017,) you will see your photo and a grid of 9 dots (3 rows by 3 columns). Click on that to see the DRIVE logo. Feel free to poke around. By default, whatever you create will be private only to you. Please note: if you allow people into folders, you may be giving them access to anything IN the folder.

Setting up YOUR Google Drive:

Think of this as your file cabinet. You can choose to share any portion of it or none of it. I like to create folders first from the left menu under “new” – Folder. Name it anything you want. You can then create “new” Google Sheets (spreadsheet like Excel). This is where I start making my lists – you may want to share this document with someone. Name it something so you know what it is: Susan’s Access to Life — or something dopey like that. I have a sample spreadsheet that you can SAVE a copy of to your own Google Drive folder. HERE – this Google Sheets spreadsheet is based on all of the lessons here on this site, and will be added to as we go along.

You can learn more about Google Drive settings and all things Google on their forums.

There are apps for phones to allow you to share and manage from anywhere:

Google Drive for iPhone

Google Drive for Android

Along with those apps, you may also want Google Sheets and the Gmail app.

I can’t stress how helpful this one document can be to you and the people you choose to share it with. Having a central location for storing online account information that you can access anywhere you go has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. It’s worth the time and effort!

Yes, there are MANY services that will securely store your documents and information for a fee. Google will do this for free and if you exceed their limit of 15GB, you will pay (as of 8/11/17) an additional $1.99/month.  Google offers more storage than most. Also, if you have an Amazon Prime account, you have a server to store files, photos and more. The difference is with Google, the documents can be collaborative or locked down to view only. Everyone sees the same version. With other storage services, including Amazon, you’ll have to download the document to edit and then upload it again. More steps, more changes it will get outdated.

No matter your solution, you want to review these shared documents quarterly for most, annually for others to make sure the share settings are current, as well as the information.