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In this article we will look at best practices for choosing a password, how to configure Outlook Express to remember your passwords, and what to do if Outlook Express forgets them.
Choosing a PasswordSecurity experts agree that "best practice theory" requires that a password:
Passwords You Should Not ChooseDo not use a password if it:
One increasingly popular solution to long and complicated passwords is to use a pass phrase instead. So instead of a password like "a4yIQX5!0," you might use something like "all cows can fly." Not only is a pass phrase easier to remember, it is also likely to be much longer yet still easy to type. Avoid common phrases however, such as "to be or not to be." Even substituting numbers or characters for letters does not make it very difficult for a dedicated cracker to guess that phrase. If you are interested in a much more detailed and highly technical discussion of passwords and pass phrases, there is an excellent three-part article on the Microsoft TechNet Web site, The Great Debates: Pass Phrases vs. Passwords.
High Marks for Bad EnglishComposing a password or pass phrase is perhaps the only time when it pays to spell incorrectly, provided your misspellings are not common ones. For the strongest possible pass phrase, combine misspelling with bad grammar, and make some character substitutions, as in "one never dusn't kn0w, do 1?"
Identity PasswordsWhether you use multiple Identities in Outlook Express or not, you can protect your Identity with a password if you choose. Many users choose not to do so because they do not share their computer with others, or because they rely on their Windows logon password to prevent other users from seeing their files. The Identity password is designed for minimal privacy and not strong security. While it will stop a casual user from opening your Outlook Express Identity, it is still very easy for a knowledgeable user to access your message store without having to enter your Identity password. Identity passwords are also limited to 15 characters or less, so using a long pass phrase is not possible. For strong security you should use password-protected Windows User accounts instead of Outlook Express Identities.
Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) makes an important change regarding Identity passwords. Prior to SP2, if you use a password for your Identity you are not prompted again for the password even if you close and then re-open Outlook Express. This is because your Identity remains logged on. In order to be prompted for the password when Outlook Express starts, you have to close Outlook Express by clicking Exit and Log Off Identity on the File menu, rather than by simply closing the window as you normally do. After installing SP2, Outlook Express will always prompt for the password when it starts regardless of whether your Identity has logged off.
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To add, change or remove an Identity password:
Account PasswordsOutlook Express can remember the passwords of some or all of your e-mail and news accounts so that you don't have to type them each time you check for new messages or open a news folder. This is configured on each account's Server Properties page.
To administer an account's passwords:
The Server Properties page allows you to configure an account's passwords. To make Outlook Express remember the password for the account, simply check the box labeled Remember password.
Forgotten PasswordsIf you forget your Identity password, you will not be able to recover it. Furthermore, since account passwords are stored in the Windows registry under a particular Identity, even if you have never used more than one Identity, you will also be unable to recover their passwords. You only option is to create a new Identity from the Identity logon window, re-enter your accounts information, and then import your mail folders as follows:
To remove the original Identity you will have to edit the Windows registry. This is best left to experienced users.
It sometimes happens that Outlook Express stops remembering account passwords. This can be caused by anti-virus e-mail scanners. Disabling the e-mail scan usually corrects this problem, but you will probably have to re-enter the account settings on the Servers Properties page and verify the Remember Password box is still checked.
If Outlook Express still cannot remember passwords, the problem probably lies in the Windows Protected Storage Service. You should first verify that the service is running:
If the problem continues, the registry entries for the Protect Storage are probably damaged. The solution involves careful editing of the registry, and is explained in detail in these Knowledge Base articles.
Outlook Express and Outlook repeatedly prompt you for your password when you check messages on an Exchange Server-based computer
Save password setting not retained in Outlook or Outlook Express
If you forget an account password, there is little that can be done by the online community or Windows Product Support. You will have to contact your ISP or account owner and request a new password.