You can't do anything online without a password, and with more and more concerns about security these days, password rules keep getting stricter. What's more, the rules vary from one web site to another, forcing you to use different passwords on different sites (although you're supposed to do that, anyway!). Who can remember all of that? You need a password manager to help. In this updated roundup, we'll drill down into nine of the best.
Some sites won't let you use a dictionary word as a password, for example. Others require you to use at least one number and one upper case letter or symbol. Others want at least seven (or eight or nine!) characters to be included. It can be particularly tricky to keep entering all those passwords on a mobile device like an iPad or iPhone. Yikes!!!
With all of the recent changes in the world of iOS software, including the advent of iOS 7, we're updating an earlier, highly popular article here with a fresh exploration of the best password management solutions. Some of the password managers below are standalone apps, while some of them have desktop companions, One of them isn't an app at all, but a part of Apple's new iOS 7. After taking a close look, choose the one which best meets your needs.
This app has long been a favorite on the Mac platform, and for good reason. Imagine never having to type in another password when surfing the web, and logging in to shopping portals and other web sites with a couple of taps. How about keeping all of your personal information secure, too, from credit card numbers to software registrations? 1Password Pro does it all on your iPad or iPhone. Plus,,everything is automatically synchronized across all of your devices via iCloud or Dropbox.
Data entry is a breeze. Simply choose from one of six main categories: Logins, Accounts, Identities, Software, and Wallet. Within each area you will find a variety of templates, including bank accounts, credit cards, email accounts, and iTunes.
Pick a template, fill in the blanks, and that's it. Fields that aren't being used are hidden, so you don't have to scroll down to get the info you really need.
The templates are rather comprehensive, although there are a couple of head-scratching omissions, such as medical and car insurance. The Notes category is a great place to store everything that doesn't fit neatly into the other areas.
1Password was recently updated to support iOS 7. If you want the top of the line password manager, and you need to effortlessly keep all of your personal information in sync across multiple platforms (mobile and desktop), then you should get this app and either the Mac ($49.95) or Windows ($49.95) desktop version right this very minute. 1Password is one of the priciest options, but once you buy the apps you don't have to pay any monthly or annual subscription fees. Highly recommended.
DataVault Password Manager
When you first download the app, you'll be prompted to set up your master password. Then you'll be treated to a short tutorial before you are taken to the main portion of the app. The search and setttings icons are found at the top left and right corners respectively, while the bottom toolbar includes the add record feature, password generator, list and tree view selector, lock button, and and expand/collapse button.
All of your records are organized into business and personal folders. Adding new records is as easy as tapping the new record icon in the bottom left corner of the screen, choosing the appropriate template, and filling in the relevant information. There are 25 templates to choose from, including everything from credit cards and frequent flyer clubs to home information and insurance. You can choose on a per-field basis whether or not you want a particular value to be masked. The search function works like a charm.
This app uses AES encryption. It offers both iCloud and Dropbox synchronization...or if you're a DIY sort, there are Webdav and WiFi sync options. There are also some customization options that allow you to choose icons and themes to make things a little more attractive.
DataVault is easy to use, with a clean and simple interface that hides a lot of power under the hood. If you want to use it as is, you'll find that it's well organized, and it will be able to handle all of your personal information quite handily. If you need the app to fulfill a more specialized purpose, you can create your own templates and categories to personalize DataVault to suit your own needs.
If you want to synchronize your information with a Mac or Windows computer, you can do that, too. The respective desktop companion applications are $9.95 each. Unfortunately DataVault hasn't been updated since February, so it hasn't been optimized for iOS 7. This is good news if you have an "old" iPad, but it isn't much help if you've already upgraded to Apple's latest operating system.
Free, or upgrade to Premium for a $12 annual subscription
You can get LastPass Wallet for free, but my start with the app was a rocky one. The only way to create a new account is to try to log in and fail. Then a back button pops up that returns you to the tutorial which explains the app and lets you actually begin to use the service.
The interface to LastPass is rather bare bones, although it works fine. Buttons at the bottom of the screen allow you to change between your password entries (Notes), view your favorites, add new entries, see information about the LastPass service, or access the app's settings. When entering your personal information, you can choose whether or not to "favorite" the entry or to require the app password in order to reveal the full details of the entry.
Security settings include the ability to set an app PIN code, automatically log out when the app is closed, and require the PIN code when switching back to LastPass from another app.
There is a search function, but there isn't any way to customize the entry types to your own needs. If you have an unusual type of data to save, you'll have to pick the closest option and try to shoehorn your data into the preselection options such as bank account, credit card, insurance, membership, or software license. If none of those works, you can always choose the Generic option and just type everything into the Notes field.
If you want to use the service on a Windows or Mac computer, you can get the required browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Opera as part of a bundle installer. Most of the app's features are free, but you'll want to upgrade to the premium subscription option in order to remove ads and get unlimited use of the mobile apps. While LastPass Wallet supports iOS 7, you can also use it on any device running iOS 4.3 or later.
In basic layout, mSecure is similar to TravelTracker Pro. You can sort your records by name or by type. You don't need a tutorial or any fancy instructions, because you can figure things out for yourself in less than a minute playing with the app.
Yet mSecure has 19 basic templates and an unlimited number of fields that you can customize, so you don't have to dump everything into the generic notes field unless you really want to do so.
However, if you're looking for eye candy, you won't find it here. There are two font sizes and two color themes, but that's about it. What you will find is plenty of good, no-frills security for all of your passwords and other critical information.
Although it isn't the prettiest of apps, it's easy to use. It offers plenty of customization options, and it's reasonably priced. Even better, the app also includes the free mBackup companion software for Mac and PC desktop computers.
If you want to stick with just the iPad app, you can also email a backup copy of your database. The app will even warn you to set up a master password before doing so, to encrypt that backup copy and keep it safe from prying eyes.
You can also use iCloud for sync, to ensure that all of your passwords are always available. mSecure uses 256 bit Blowfish encryption, and it's iOS 7-compatible.
This app uses a bookshelf strategy to organize your data. You can swipe from left to right to cycle through the various bookcases such as Work, Wallet, favorites, and a double protection area which requires an extra password.
Templates help you to enter all of your personal details quickly and easily. Some of the more popular sites like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and pinterest are included, or you can use a blank template for more freeform information. You can also choose between a list view or full screen view, and can sort records alphabetically and by date modified, password strength, or username.
You can sync your information between devices using iCloud, and oneSafe has some interesting import options as well, such as using your camera to scan a business card or importing a file through iTunes File Sharing.
One of its unique features is just how many choices you get for your master password: standard PIN, password, pattern, combination lock wheel, or TRI-PIN, which uses a combination of letters, colors, and symbols in a four-position layout. oneSafe is iOS 7-compliant, and it will also work with all devices that run iOS 6 or later.
I thought that PasswordBox would be "more of the same" but I was pleasantly surprised when I created my account and I was greeted by a home screen with lots of very familiar logos.
The app invites you to tap on a logo to enter your login details. It then asks if you use the same login on any other sites (we all know we're not supposed to do that, either, but this is real life!).
After entering a couple of logins, the app suggests that you install PasswordBox on your computer as well, so that you don't have to type in all of your user names and passwords over and over again.
You'll also find a secure note section, a built-in browser, and a password generator. An intelligent and attractive design permeates the entire app. It's a welcome change from the more utilitarian user interfaces seen in most apps of this type.
The only down side here is that you can store just 25 passwords before you have to sign up for a $11.99 annual auto-renewing subscription.
PasswordBox is extremely polished for a free app, and highly recommended if you need to save only a few passwords.
While this app will store any personal information that you care to input, it is designed specifically to improve your web browsing/online shopping experience.
Each record includes five fields beyond the record title, including the URL, username, password, ccategory, and notes. Once you set up each record, you can tap the Visit icon in the top right corner of the screen to launch PasswordWallet's internal web browser. Your information isn't automatically filled in, but it's pretty close. Just tap on the relevant field and then tap on the icon in the top right corner of the screen to autofill your username, for example. Then tap on the password field and then the corresponding icon to fill that in too.
PasswordWallet works very well. It's great for folks who heed the security warnings we're always hearing and have set up strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Those "strong" passwords can be especcially hard to recall, and hard to type repeatedly each time you need to use them -- especially if you're holding the iPad in one hand and trying to type on the screen with the other!
A variety of sorting methods are available, as well as a search feature, although there is no way to add your own templates. You'll also discover plenty of synchronization options, including syncing with the desktop companion app, another iPhone, or MobileMe. A desktop companion application is available for Mac and PC computers, and Password Wallet for iPad will sync with either one.
If you want to purchase the desktop companion app (or any of the other applications by the same developer), you'll find a 25% off coupon within the iOS app. You can also export your data in a format readable on any computer.
If you don't need a full desktop companion. PasswordWallet is still a useful app -- but a slightly misnamed one in the sense that the app is more about online passwords and web accounts than about keeping the contents of your virtual wallet safe.
Like LastPass Wallet, PasswordWallet is a good choice for those who haven't yet upgraded to iOS 7, since it runs on every version from iOS 4.3 and higher.
Currently on sale for $2.99 (ordinarily $5.99)
You can set up your own categories in Safe, and your own organizational scheme. Want to keep all your credit card and wallet information together, with separate categories for home and insurance information, and another category for all of your web logins? You can do that, or you can categorize your information by "life focus" or role, such as business, personal, family, etc.
No matter how you choose to set up your categories, you can have six different types of records: credit cards, bank accounts, web accounts, general notes, photos, and contacts. Each of those record types offers plenty of fields which you can fill in with your own information.
The "photo type" may seem somewhat strange since it invites you to select a photo already stored on your device and give it a title. I'm still not quite sure what that one is all about, but the other record types are well organized.
There are no desktop companion apps available for Safe.So there is no synchronization option beyond the standard iTunes backup when you sync your iPad. Safe works well, but it needs more features in order to compete with the other password management apps available in the App Store. Thankfully it is currently iOS 7 compatible, and the developer is planning to add synchronization and cloud storage support in a future update.
iOS 7 Keychain
Included on iOS 7 devices
With Keychain, it can be rather difficult to find/edit your info, which is why Apple has provided a handy popup that tells you it's in the Safari section of the Settings app. However, Keychain is more than a password management app, because you can optionally use both your personal contact information and saved credit cards to make online shopping a snap.
Depending on how many sites you regularly visit and need to log in to, it may take a while to get all of your passwords into iOS 7 Keychain, but the process is just as simple as logging in as you always do. You allow Keychain to save the information when prompted. Keychain can also generate random passwords for extra security.
A four-digit passcode is required to see the saved passwords and credit card numbers. That passcode can be the same as your device unlock code or a different one.
Certain sites, such as Salesforce, will save your username but not your password unless you turn on the "always allow" setting. That does slightly increase your risk if your device is lost or stolen, though you can use the Find iPhone app to remotely erase your device if necessary.
Of course, iOS 7 Keychain will work only if you use the default Safari web browser instead of a replacement like Google's Chrome. Aside from that major limitation, it works very well, and will probably be all that most folks will need if they are in a purely Apple environment.
If you also use a PC, however, you'll also want a password management app that includes a Windows desktop component.
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