The good old days are pretty much gone where we’d just use computers for simple tasks such as web browsing (when it used to be quite simple :D). Nowadays, for the good or the worse, we save our personal photos, documents or other extremely sensitive data such as credit card information, online accounts etc in our computers, thus, security is a major concern as most of us have a lot to lose.
Now there are many ways that you can use to enhance your PC’s security such as encrypting your sensitive data, using a powerful anti-virus utility, firewalls etc. However, when it comes to the basics, having a strong password helps, a lot. Because, even if you have the best anti-virus and other whatnots installed, yet, if your user account’s password is weak, then someone can easily outrank almost all the other security measurements once they have access to your main account.
In that sense, if you’re looking for a simple, completely free (open-source) and a powerful password generator for the MS Windows platform, then APG (“Awesome Password Generator”) is a tool that’s worth trying.
Main features …
*. Supports Windows XP/Vista/7 & 8.
*. Features a simple GUI (default) and a console version (optional).
Unlike with the user accounts, where having a password with 8-12 characters is pretty decent (you can go for even longer ones for better security but then it can be a bit troublesome while remembering them, right?), but for WPA encryption, you can go as far as “63” characters! (also supports 256-bit WPA key with 64 hex digits).
*. Shows the strength levels of your passwords (“weak, normal …”).
*. Has an installer and a portable version (zipped archive), so you can take it wherever you go.
*. Generate passwords using: simple & CAPITAL letters, include numbers, characters (@, !, ‘,# etc). You can manually enable or disable these options plus can use a phrase of your own while creating a password as well.
*. It has few other options such as a one that makes sure to create a password that’s somewhat easy to remember (you can disable it if you like) and another one that excludes using “confusing” characters (to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what it does, but perhaps it exxcludes characters that are hard to recognize, like with “CAPTCHA” codes for instance).
*. With the latest version, if you use Windows Vista or later, and have “pinned” “APG” to your task bar, we can generate passwords directly from that icon (without opening the program’s window), as shown below. Once you create a password, it’ll display you a message saying that the new password is copied to the “clipboard”. To retrieve the password, just open notepad and simply right click on it and choose “paste”.
However, this might create a slight vulnerability as this password is automatically saved in the clipboard memory. So I humbly suggest that, if it’s saved only for a certain period (say, 10-15 seconds), that would’ve increased the security. Again, this does not apply while you use the normal “APS” window, as it automatically clears the clipboard memory (can be disabled) upon exit.
*. Bulk password generation: If you’re a system administrator who wants to generate a bunch of secure passwords, then this might come in handy for you (I don’t know if there’s a limit, I put “20000” in the number of passwords to generate field, and it still generated them!). It saves the generated passwords in a plain text file (you can change its location).
*. It also features a command-line interface as well.
If interested, you cat get it from this APS home page. Since it requires .NET 4 framework, make sure to have it installed first.
So, if you’ve been looking for a free, highly portable, powerful yet a simple password generator that can be used in Windows, then perhaps “Awesome Password Generator” might save your day ;-). Enjoy!.