Security is everything these days, and we all know that you have to use a different password for every single account and web site in order to prevent your private data from being accessed in case one of your accounts is hacked. That’s all well and good, but how are we supposed to remember all of those passwords when every site has different rules? Some require a certain length, others require capitals, numbers, and symbols, while others exclude dictionary words.
For that reason password managers are an absolute must. Some of them include biometric security options, while others will generate secure passwords for you. Any one of them can help you stay organized, but how can you choose the right one for your needs? Read on to learn the features of several different options so that you can more easily secure your personal data and access it when you need to get into your accounts.
Free, built into iOS
The first option is the easiest, because it’s built into Apple’s iOS. The iOS Keychain saves passwords and credit card information that you enter into Safari, as well as WiFi passwords entered in Settings. You can set up iOS Keychain by going to the iCloud tab in Settings and turning it on. Your security code is required, and must be verified by entering a code that will be sent by text message. You can optionally enable it on all of the iOS devices on the same account, or use it only on your phone or iPad.
Using iOS Keychain is as simple as allowing it to remember the information you enter in Safari. Each time you log in to a new account or web site, you’ll see a popup box asking if you want the information to be remembered. Choose yes and you’ll find that the next time you go to that site, you won’t have to enter your password again. This is especially handy if you use multiple devices, because most folks find it easier to type on the larger keyboard of an iPad than on the smaller screen of an iPhone.
If you want to review the information that is saved, you can do so by choosing Safari in the Settings app and scrolling down to Passwords & Autofill. You can then choose to view your saved passwords and/or your saved credit cards. If you want to change any of the stored information, you’ll need to log in to that particular web site with a new password, and you will then be prompted to save the new information in iOS Keychain.
If your needs are relatively simple, iOS Keychain is a great option because it is free and built into iOS. There are no organizational or password generation features, however, so if you need something more advanced you’ll want to read on and learn more about four more options available in the Apple App Store.
Free, Universal, $9.99 in app purchase to unlock Pro features
If you’re looking for the one app that does it all, look no further than 1Password. The free version of the app will store all of your passwords and protect them with TouchID biometric security (if your device is TouchID-enabled).
It’s perfectly competent, and a real bargain considering that it’s free. All of the basic features you would expect are there, including a search function, auto-lock, and a PIN code for fast access. A built-in web browser is also included. If you’ve added the URL to your password entries, you can get one touch access to your favorite sites; you can also fill credit card information with one touch to the Key icon in the top right corner and another touch to choose the credit card you want to use.
The free version also allows you to sync all of your passwords between devices using iCloud, Dropbox, or WiFi. You can sync with desktop platforms too if you purchase the Mac OS X or Windows desktop version of 1Password directly from AgileBits or from the Mac App Store.
Upgrade to the Pro version for $9.99 and you’ll get more categories and item types for better organization, Apple Watch support, the ability to generate randomized passwords for one-time use, and the ability to create custom folders and tags so that you can separate your corporate and personal information, etc. Highly recommended!
$9.99, Universal, $2.99 in app purchase for advanced features
This app uses a familiar tree-and-branch organization system for your passwords and other personal information. When you first launch the app you’ll be prompted to create a password to secure your data, then you’ll be taken to a sample vault that includes a variety of options from bank accounts and credit cards to insurance and travel rewards programs.
There is a search feature built in, which will be extremely useful if you enter many different kinds of information. You can also tap on higher level folders to collapse them, saving space on the screen and making it a little easier to navigate to the section you’re looking for.
A large variety of templates are included, for everything from business contacts and checking accounts to health information and memberships. You can also create your own templates, which is a nice way to customize the app to secure the information you need, instead of trying to make things “fit” into predetermined templates.
If you want advanced features such as enhanced encryption, automatic synchronization, more icons, and better display options, you’ll have to pay another $2.99 via in app purchase. If you just want to backup your DataVault information to iCloud, that is included in the app.
$9.99, Universal, $2.99 in app purchase for advanced features
mSecure is a nicely organized and easy to use app for storing all of your passwords and personal information.
Navigation is clear and simple, with easy to understand icons. Adding a new entry is as simple as tapping the plus sign at the top of the screen and choosing the type from an extensive list. You can also add your own groups and types to customize the app to your liking
You can select individual records to mark as favorites for quick access, plus you can sort entries by name, group, type, or date. A web browser is also built into the app.
The password generator is particularly robust, with quick toggles that allow you to choose whether uppercase or lower case letters, numbers, special characters, and similar (ilL) characters are included in the pool, as well as the password length.
There is an automatic synchronization feature via Dropbox, iCloud, or Wifi, or you can do it manually — the app will periodically prompt you to send yourself encrypted backups via email. Other options include the ability to change the font and color scheme, change the auto-lock and self-destruct options, and more.
If you want to unlock advanced features such as custom icons or the ability to attach photos to your entries, you’ll have to make a $2.99 in app purchase. Recommended.
If you have relatively simple needs, and only want to store web logins and credit card information, Passible is the app for you. At first glance it appears to be very basic, but simple design like this isn’t easy!
You won’t need any manuals or help to figure out how Passible works; all you really need is about 3 minutes poking around the app and you’ll have it figured out. It makes good use of auto completion, so you won’t have to type in your name over and over–enter it once and you’ll find that it pops up when you’re creating other entries. You can also create your own folders on they fly (as opposed to having to navigate to a separate menu) which is an elegant solution to the need for organization.
The built-in web browser is really nice; access it with a single tap on the URL in any entry. Even if the login boxes don’t appear on the home page (such as Amazon.com), the browser is still ready and waiting to fill in the required info so that you can get on with your business (shopping!) quickly and easily.
One of the more interesting features is the Analyzer, which examines all of your saved passwords at once and determines whether they are strong enough or need to be updated for extra security. You’ll also find the option to email encrypted backups (no synchronization), tips and tricks for good data security, and the ability to mark particular entries as your favorites for quick access. Even better, you can swipe any entry to the right to quickly reveal the password.
Passible may not have every single bell and whistle, but it is surprisingly robust and very easy to use. Highly recommended for those who want something better than iOS Keychain, but may not need to step up to the more advanced features offered by apps such as 1Password. Highly recommended.