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Review: The best password managers for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices

Tim Ferrill | June 18, 2015
10 local and cloud-based contenders make passwords stronger and online life easier for Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users.

But one of these other options might suit you better. Really, you can't go wrong with any of these password managers.

1Password

1Password is the brainchild of AgileBits, maker of the popular Knox encryption tool for OS X. Unlike Knox, 1Password offers support for multiple platforms, including Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

Like KeePass, 1Password uses a local file to store encrypted passwords. AgileBits does not provide a cloud service for synchronization with mobile devices, but 1Password does support synchronization of the password vault using Dropbox (all platforms) or iCloud (Mac and iOS only). 1Password also supports synchronization over Wi-Fi between Windows, Mac, and iOS clients. Because the 1Password vault is contained in a single file, you gain the convenience of a portable password vault without having to store your passwords on the Internet.

1Password clients allow you to create and maintain multiple password vaults. Multiple vaults can be used to share some of your passwords with another family member or co-worker. Secure sharing between 1Password clients is supported, giving you a method to transmit a login (or any sensitive information, such as a credit card number or the answer to a website's security question) to another licensed 1Password user over an encrypted channel. Emailing login information in plain text is also supported, but this information is only as secure as your email traffic.

1Password now provides a number of different tools that analyze your passwords and the services they secure in order to identify potential vulnerabilities. Though many websites have patched the Heartbleed vulnerability by now, 1Password takes the precaution of comparing your last password change for a site against the date the site's server was patched. If your password hasn't been changed since the patch, 1Password will encourage you to protect yourself through a password change. Potential areas of concern such as duplicate or weak passwords are also identified.

The cost of using 1Password is markedly different than cloud-based password lockers. Users must purchase clients for each platform they intend to use, costing more up front than a subscription service, but potentially saving money in the long term. 1Password for PC or Mac cost $49.99; the Mac-plus-PC bundle runs $69.99. Both the iOS app and Android apps are free with an in-app upgrade to the Pro feature set for $9.99.

My biggest concern with 1Password has to do with feature parity between the Mac and PC versions. Currently both platforms offer similar features, largely due to a massive update to the Windows version mere days before publication of this article. Previously, features such as secure sharing or Wi-Fi sync were nowhere to be found. AgileBits has made good on promises to bring these features to all platforms, but if you're primarily a PC user, the lag may be cause for concern. Regardless, 1Password is a strong password manager. With AgileBits' strong ties to the Apple community, this is particularly true for Mac and iOS users.

 

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