A Reminder to Write Down Your Passwords

In this age of advancing technology and Google’s growing hegemony in your online life, this is just a quick reminder to say that if you have a Google Account (Gmail, iGoogle, etc) then you might want to try out this old-school method of account security.

Write your password down on this thing called paper.

Before you scoff at this reuse of old technology, please hear my tale, it’s sad but true… about a girl that I once …er still know. (OK, cancel the “Runaround Sue” pun.)

Recently I bought a new laptop for my fiancee.  It’s pretty sweet, a new Dell XPS 1530, and I’ve been transferring data from her old laptop to this one.  But we didn’t get the passwords moved over from her old computer’s Firefox file to this one, and she couldn’t remember the password for her account.  No problem, you might think, just have Google send the password to her backup email account.  That would work great if the company hadn’t unknowingly shut down (since she used her Gmail account for everything there was no need for that email).

What about the backup question?  I’d like an answer to that one as well, because after typing in the answer, and any possible permutation of the backup question and that little cheesy captcha file, Google still would not let her reset her password.

So we finally found a way to contact Google, because being the big web company they are, they don’t actually want people to contact them when their stuff goes haywire (unless of course, you are a big consumer account, which being only two people, we aren’t).  We filled out the form with all of the information we had on the account and sent it in, only to get a response from Google telling us they can’t send her information because she didn’t have enough information to send in (aka, she’s not using enough of their services and she’s screwed, again we’re not a big corporate account).

The end result of all of this?  Well, my fiancee has another Gmail account for backup (that I created for her) and she still can’t access her Gmail contacts, or the businesses (bank, car payment, etc) that contact her through that email address and she’s getting stressed about all of this.  So thanks Google, it’s such a great plan to give stress to someone with a heart condition.

And the lesson learned from this little weekend debacle?  Just use some retro tech and remember to write your passwords down someplace safe (Dad, hint hint)

P.S. and if anyone from Google ever stumbles across this, a little help here?

Author: Benson Hendrix

Benson Hendrix, APR has been called everything from a “social media zen warrior” to the ” ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper of Public Relations,” and from a “behind the scenes powerbroker,” to “the loudmouth PR love child of Henry Rollins and Anthony Bourdain,” but doesn’t really believe any of it (except maybe the “Rowdy” Roddy Piper part). Hendrix is the Social Media Manager for the University of New Mexico and loves helping organizations and people tell the stories that are important to them. He is also an adjunct social media instructor at the University of New Mexico, and the Social Media Strategist for TEDxABQ. In the few minutes a week he calls "spare time," he relaxes with his wife and chases his dream to be a better photographer.

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