Still remember the password to your account on Angelfire for a website that you abandoned in 1999 but can't remember the login information for the Fedora 13 virtual machine? We've all been there.

It's what Sherlock Holmes referred to as filling up the attic with useless information. We're not all capable of clearing stuff out from our attic, but we can trust some important information – such as passwords – to dedicated password managers that can remember, protect and serve us these passwords as and when we need them.

The naysayers would argue that you can't trust all your passwords to a single location. Different password managers rely on different encryption algorithms to ensure your passwords remain safe, and in our selection you'll find many different algorithms in use.

Most of these tools, however, also rely on a master password. Forget the master password and you can't retrieve any of the passwords stored within.

Because of the basic premise of password managers, only a few tools are now in active development. Still, the nature of open source projects, and the stability of these tools have ensured them a place on our list.

So why wouldn't you use a password manager instead of mucking about with silly text files with manual encryptions. There's just one rule: make sure your master password is very secure – but more importantly, make sure that it's something you won't ever forget.

How we tested...

We wanted tools that can easily work on more than a single distribution and make it easy to import and export data. Because the information trusted to password managers is so private, the security measures they use wins them extra brownie points.

While there are Firefox extensions you can use to store passwords for websites, we're interested in tools that can store any username/password combination, irrespective of what that combination unlocks.

We also wanted tools that offer search features so you can quickly locate any passwords. Many tools are still in beta, so that isn't a criterion on our list. If it's stable and can do all that it promises, we're happy

Our selection

Fiagaro's Password Manager
Gpass
Gpassword Manager
Gringotts
KeePassX
MyPasswords
PasswordSafe
Revelation