Once upon a time, when animals and people talked the same language, there was this app that let you manage your passwords, credit card numbers and all kinds of “secret” stuff. It was more or less unnecessary but a lot of fun because it made you fell like a spy in a Bond movie. Many millennia later we are and passwords aren’t enough anymore to keep stuff like the money in your bank account and your login credentials to websites that contain your entire life story from being hacked, stolen, ransomed and more. Password managers have become as much a necessity as a lifejacket is to someone drowning.
There are many of them. With my 1Password account almost expired, I decided to look for a free alternative. I checked out Roboform, Lastpass and Dashlane, but I started by thinking about storing my passwords in an encrypted DEVONthink Pro 3 database. That would have been a solution to the problem of yearly recurring charges were it not for the dreaded two-factor login security many websites nowadays offer as an additional barrier against hackers, identity thieves and other scoundrels.
The DEVONthink database solution would have made it necessary for me to always revert to my iPad for creating the two-factor code with an app that does nothing else. I find that very resource unfriendly and inefficient, so that idea was thrown in the dustbin.
Roboform, Lastpass and Dashlane were three password management alternatives that seemed to offer about the same or better features than 1Password. So wrong was I that I didn’t even bother to download any of them except for Lastpass. The latter seemed to give me all I needed for free, so I downloaded their app and imported all my passwords and security data into it. Lastpass has a 1Password importer and it should have made the process seamless and efficient, but it didn’t.
If that was all that wasn’t as simple as it could have been, I would probably have plodded along, but it wasn’t. Installing Lastpass should have installed the Safari extension with no problem at all, even on my Catalina system. It didn’t. I had to reinstall the application twice before Safari finally ‘saw’ the extension in its Preference panel for me to activate it.
Importing the 1Password file was efficient up to a point. That point being that 1Password’s incredibly easy-to-use and set-once-and-forget-about-it two-factor authentication implementation was totally missing in Lastpass. Instead, the Lastpass developers expect you to download yet another app for creating two-factor codes to your mobile device and go through a whole setup nightmare that I for one never had to go through with 1Password — where the identity checks and verification process is made much more user-friendly. The fact alone that I needed to choose between half a dozen two-factor code creation apps from different providers was a bit too much for my tired brain.
Update entered on Jan, 23: Since I first published this article, I’ve actually downloaded Roboform, Secrets, Bitwarden and Enpass and installed every one of them. I’m discussing the Lastpass experience more in detail below, but the others were just as much a pain, if not more. I had Roboform on my system for about six minutes before I threw it off again. Totally useless in a browser. Bitwarden is free and open source, but that did not prove to be a blessing. Very, very lightweight. Enpass was the closest to being a serious contender but it lacks many features that Lastpass and 1Password do have. At the end of the three days I spent with all of these apps, I had a — no kidding — splitting headache and nothing that can replace 1Password.
And if it was too much for my brain that has experience in dealing with IT since dinosaurs were roaming the plains, I can only imagine what it must be like when you couldn’t care less about IT.
What happened next and The Bottom Line
Lastpass was cumbersome compared to 1Password, so I actually deleted my account which the company tells you will permanently remove all your data from their servers after 30 days.
I’ll stick with 1Password, even if it means I must shell out a yearly subscription to get synchronisation across my two devices. The app and service that goes with it are so much more user-friendly and more integrated with iOS and macOS that other software is painful to use. It’s just as secure as the other top-of-the-bill password management services that, indeed, include Lastpass and Dashlane, and while Lastpass does offer a free alternative if you’re the only user, That fact on its own doesn’t justify the ride being much less smooth than 1Password’s.