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Question #91553 posted on 08/08/2018 9:24 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Is it possible to completely delete accounts and passwords from companies or websites? I have a lot of either apps or websites that I've made an account on, tried it out, and now never use. Is there a way to get rid of them?



Dear Concerned User,

The short answer is: not really. Some companies actually erase your information from their databases while others just mark you as inactive but keep your info. But the problem with that is that even if they delete your info from the current database, they have backups that are run regularly that still have all the information you gave them. There was even a recent breach of one of Reddit's old backups from like 11 years ago so people's info was stolen. Even though it was old information it can be used for nefarious purposes because a lot of people either don't change their password for each site or haven't changed their user information for the past 11 years (or both). Basically, when you make an account for anything online you are agreeing to give them your information permanently (that's what's said in the terms and conditions you probably didn't read because it's not really written for the average Joe to understand and we have gotten into the habit of just clicking without reading them anyway). 

The best thing you can do it use a password manager. Some people use a spreadsheet to keep track but that isn't convenient. Password managers can store your current passwords along with generate secure passwords for future accounts and autofill all of them. If you are still hesitant to use one, let me just say this: if you just type the same password into every account you make you are not very secure and if any of those sites expose your info everything you've ever logged into can be accessed. Just use a password manager so you still only need to remember one password but this password is to access your password manager.

My recommendation for a password manager would be LastPass. Here's an article that tells you how to get it set up. It's pretty detailed despite being called a "beginner's guide" so just look at the section that applies to you. You can get LastPass on your phone or as an extension/add-on for your internet browser. 

As far as what you can do in the future? Just be safer going forward. And don't reuse your passwords (especially not ones that you used for new apps that may not be mature enough to securely store your information).