The pros and cons of using the auto-fill function

The pros and cons of using the auto-fill function

As more and more websites are requiring complex and unique passwords and usernames, one can’t blame users if they become tired of keeping track of countless account data for various websites. 

Most of the time, filling out forms online can be daunting and prone to typo errors. No doubt having the fields automatically filled up can save you a lot of time and minimize spelling errors since all you have to do is to recheck the details or edit them before clicking the submit button. 

Some apps and websites can let you fill out your sign in details instantly without typing as long as you have previously provided the data. These apps and sites have this so-called autofill service. While some find this very useful, others are doubting the feature due to the security and privacy risks it has.

Today, Form C Filler will discuss the pros and cons of using autofill. Continue reading to see what they are below:

What is autofill and how can you use it

The autofill feature isn’t new and it has been improving over the years. Last 2010, Google introduced autofill which stores sensitive data such as passwords and emails. Here, the user can instantly fill up an input field just by typing the first few letters and letting the browser do the rest. It can store the following data:

  • Full name or user name
  • Telephone or mobile phone number
  • Address (home, work, email)
  • Credit card details such as cardholder number, name and expiration date
  • Passwords

To protect sensitive data from hackers, Google only fills up the data under HTTPS pages to avoid cases of leaking info with fraudulent web pages. Various browsers can save slightly different types of user data. 

Take a look at what data the major browsers can fill out for you below. Take note that addresses can include phone numbers, emails and shipping addresses.

  • Google Chrome: Addresses, credit cards, passwords
  • Safari: Addresses, credit cards, contact info, user names
  • Firefox: Addresses, user names, passwords
  • Microsoft Edge: Addresses, credit cards, passwords

Some users can even set up the autofill feature by going to the browser’s autofill settings and providing only the data they wanted to be used by the feature. Doing this will let the browser and the user save sensitive data. Users can also choose to enable or disable it.

How to use the autofill function

For a form to be auto-filled, Chrome needs to identify what values will go with them. For instance, it should know that the ‘email address’ field should be with the same content as your work email address. This is done by manually entering your data on a certain website first so the next time Google encounters the same field in a different website, it will know what data should be put in.

In other words, once you enable autofill, the browser will fill the fields with the data you have previously entered in the past forms. With this, you won’t have to fill out the forms by hand, reducing the time consumed and the possible typo errors along the way. 

Tips on how to use the autofill feature correctly

There are instances where you expect the field to be auto-filled but end up filling it up manually by yourself since the autofill feature did not work. Here are some tips you can do to help browser's autofill the field each time you need them to:

  • Make sure your forms work with password managers
  • Use the standard input fields rather than creating your own
  • Do not use login forms where you can add or remove fields
  • Use a placeholder attribute in input fields
  • Avoid using multi-page login forms as much as possible

One way of preventing security and privacy issues caused by the autofill feature is to ensure that the website you are providing your info for is secure enough to meet browser standards. Also, make sure that your browser, website and software are updated and that you have an activated firewall and VPN to prevent data leakage.

Pros of using auto-fill

The autofill feature is everywhere. Millions of websites and apps now have autofill plugins to let their users fill out forms fast and easy. Take a look at what other benefits users can enjoy once they enable the autofill feature below:

Lessens tedious fill-out process

More swipe, less type, this is what the autofill feature wants users to do. Using it will lessen the tedious and time-consuming process of signing in or filling out certain fields. It is also useful for those busy people who would like to make quick transactions.

Faster fill-out process

Enabling the auto-fill feature saves users from getting up from their comfy sitting position just to get their back or open countless drawers to find their wallets or notebooks containing their numbers, passwords and addresses. One Google study found out that users can complete forms up to 30% faster if the autofill feature is activated.

Increases submission rate

The speed combined with the ease of using the autofill feature boosts the submission rate which can be beneficial for both clients and service providers. This is mainly because it makes the users more satisfied in the process which makes them return to the service more often.

Stores login credentials from multiple websites

People can be tired of always logging in each time they access a website or app. Luckily, the autofill function can store the data you use for multiple accounts. For example, if you detail over 30 websites, you do not have to remember each one since the auto-fill function can do it for you.

Fills repetitive data

If you are a constant online shopper, you might have noticed that the shipping and billing address happens to be the same every time you check out on a shopping site. But these two fields need to be filled separately. The autofill function can quickly fill the repetitive data in just a swipe or click.

Provides better customer experience

Overall, the autofill function provides a better user experience since it saves time and reduces the risk of typo errors. Also, if a website registration becomes too tedious, the user may leave. This is why once a potential client lands on a website, the data needs to be readily available.

Since online forms can be tedious, the best approach for online services is to provide users with the choice to pull in the required data instantly. The less info you ask of them or the easier the sign-up process is, the faster the conversions will be. This leads to increased service completion and conversion. 

Cons of using auto-fill

When using auto-fill, an attacker or hacker may take advantage of the data a user willingly provides online such as its address and other account data. Various blogs and forum posts advise not to use autofill to prevent browsers from caching vital and sensitive data. Take a look at some of the cons of using auto-fill below:

Exposes sensitive data to hackers

In case your device has been hacked due to malware or it has been lost/stolen, your accounts and its content will be at risk especially if the auto-fill feature is activated. To avoid this, the user should use the autofill feature only for sites and apps that have 2-factor authentication (2FA) where the user will provide another physical divide to sign or confirm any sensitive operation.

Fills inaccurate data

If you use multiple names and addresses, there are chances that the autofill feature will display the wrong set of details. You can prevent this by manually optimizing your account details in the autofill settings of your browser or device.

Security and privacy issues

A lot of people doubt whether the autofill feature can safely protect their sensitive data. The quick answer is no. But the truth is whether or not you use the auto-fill feature, any data you provide online are always at risk of potentially being leaked or hacked. This is why you should always have your firewall or antivirus software activated before you enclose any info on any website or app. 

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