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One big issue these days with regard to computer security is the number of passwords you may be required to remember. Not only that, you may be required to periodically change those passwords. So remembering them becomes quite a chore. Well, there's a feature in Windows 7 known as the Credential Manager that lets you save your usernames and passwords to help you log-on to websites, network computers, and other resources, automatically without having to type them in. Now the concept is not really new, but in Windows 7 you can also backup and restore your Vault where those credentials are stored.
So let's take a look at the Credential Manager now. In the Control panel, which you can open up from your Windows Orb, click User Accounts and Family Safety, then click Credential Manager. Now, here you are going to notice several categories of credentials. If you're using credentials to login to Windows sites and network computers, you might want to add a Windows Credential. If it's one of those sites that requires a security certificate, you can create Certificate-Based credentials. And for everything else, there's Generic Credentials.
Let's test this out. We'll click Add a generic credential. You can add whatever you like. If it's a Windows site, for example, your Windows Live account, home.live.com, you'd try that one. I'm going to use an actual FTP site that I access on a regular basis. So, I type in the address here, and now I'll type in the username and password I use to access that site. Once I get the password in here, and click OK, I'll never have to enter that information again when accessing that FTP site. That's beautiful.
Let's test it out. I'm going to click my Windows Explorer button, and in the address field, I'm going to type that exact same address, the dropbox.lynda.com. Typically, I'd be prompted now to enter my username and my password, but you can see it's actually busy now logging me in to the FTP site, and eventually depending on your connection to the Internet, the speed will vary. But I will see the contents of this FTP site without having to remember or even enter my username and password.
That's the beauty of the Credential Manager. Keep in your mind that the Credential Manager uses Windows Cardspace technology, so when credentials are saved in the Windows Vault, they can actually be backed up and restored now to encrypted Managed Information Card Files or MIC Files. So I am going to just close this up. You saw how easy that was. Notice I also have the ability to backup and restore my Vault. So my Vault has a couple of credentials in there now. If I want to back that up-- and why would I want to do that? A couple of different reasons.
One, I could, and this is the worst-case scenario, crash my system. I've lost everything, wiped the drive, and I reinstall Windows 7, I wouldn't want to have to type in all those usernames and passwords again, I can just restore my card file. So the first thing I need to do is back it up. So Back up to. I click Browse and I get to choose a location. I am actually going to back it up to a removable disk, so it's my USB drive, which I can then unplug and store in a safe location.
I'll give it a name. I'm going to call it MyVault. You can see it's a cardfile, and when I click Save, the path appears here. I click Next. The message is going to tell me that I need to press down Ctrl+Alt+Delete to continue. So I'll do that now. There we go, the backup was successful, and I should probably take that USB drive and store it in a safe location. When I click Finish, I'm back to my Credential Manager. Now if you ever need to make changes, for example, I'm told that I need to create a new password to login.
Well, I can do it right from here. That way I do it once and I don't have to remember it after that. Go down to my Generic Credentials here. I can expand this by clicking the little arrow that appears in the right-hand side and if I need to, I can edit the contents of this credential. The other option is to remove it. If I'm not using it any longer, click Remove from Vault. You'll need to confirm that by clicking Yes and that removes it from your Vault. If you like to use the Credential Manager, Windows 7 now lets you backup and restore your Vault.
It's a good option to have, just in case of an emergency. When you're done, close up your Control Panel.
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