Screenshot of the 1Password browser extension running in Safari

Review: 1Password

By Simon Fairbairn Stay Safe and Secure4 Comments

Crotchety Old Man Mode: Activated

Back in the day, we didn’t need passwords. The internet was a fun and free place, full of unicorns and starfish and anonymous FTP where you could log into anyone’s servers and have a good nosy around. Kept folks honest, it did.

Nobody locked their house, ya left yer keys in yer car, and there weren’t all these millions of capital letters floatin’ about.

SSH? SSL? MD5? SHA1? Madness, I tell ya!

Not like the ol’ days. No siree.

Pass me my slippers.

Disabling Crotchety Old Man Mode

Our Present Password Predicament

Unfortunately, the unicorns are long dead and the starfish dried up years ago. Passwords, and the friction they bring, are now a necessary evil. As more of us move our business and personal lives online, the need to protect that data is stronger than ever.

But as new, powerful and useful online services continue to pop up almost on a daily basis, who here hasn’t sighed when faced with yet another registration page asking for yet another username and password?

Well, sigh no more, young ’un! 1Password brings back some of the unicorn magic, making working on the internet just that little bit easier again.

Managing the Madness With 1Password

1Password is a password manager for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android that makes storing and retrieving passwords ridiculously easy.

Simply set one last (strong) master password using these tips, then stick all your usernames, passwords, security questions, credit card details, and software keys in there and never have to remember whether it was an ‘a’ or an ‘@’ ever again.

The Benefits

Browser Extensions

Extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox allow you to auto-fill usernames, passwords, and even credit card information straight from your browser.

Screenshot of the 1Password browser extension running in Safari
Click to login. Really, it’s that easy.

Enter your master password to open the extension up, and it’ll recognise the domain you’re on and provide you with the right login information. Click once to have it autofill (it’ll even click the submit button for you) and, boom, you’re in.

Dropbox Sync

Sync your 128-bit AES encrypted keychain with Dropbox and enjoy the security that comes from knowing that your passwords are always accessible. If the worst happens and everything gets lost or stolen, you can log in to your Dropbox account from any computer, grab the file (and the 1Password demo,) and be up and running again in minutes.

(OK, so technically you actually have to remember two passwords: your 1Password password, and your Dropbox password. Still, better than the 210 I currently have saved.)

And if you have a phone or tablet, the iOS or Android versions will give you your passwords wherever you go (all locked up and secure, of course).

Store (Almost) Anything

As well as login details, you can store credit card information, files, and software license keys, all of which are searchable from within the app. Believe me, it’s easier than searching your email for an activation email for that piece of software you bought three years ago.

A screenshot of the 1Password license manager
Never lose a software license again.

 Smart Folders and Tags

Slice and dice your security data however you want and be a hero to your friends, family, and clients.

As the resident tech support for my family and friends, I can keep track of a lot of their passwords and login details, and make their day when they can’t find that password they wrote down on the back of a receipt many years ago.

Using smart folders and tags, it’s easy to organise all of this data and have it at your fingertips when that inevitable email arrives.

See How Insecure You Really Are

One of the first things I did when I’d put all of my passwords in there was to create a smart folder that gathered all of the entries where I’d used the same password.

It was pretty shocking.

A few well-spent hours later, and now every service I use has a new, long, secure, totally unique password.

The Issues

Extensions Can Be Buggy

The browser extensions can be a little buggy. I’ve had issues being able to access the details of a login through the extension. It’s not that common and a restart of the browser usually fixes it, but when it happens it can be annoying—especially because it’s one of the most-used parts of the app.

The Recent ‘Flaw’

There was a recently discovered design flaw in the security architecture. Ars Technica did a breakdown and discovered for most end-users it’s a non-issue, and simply reduces the time required to crack the password to 482 years instead of over a thousand for the latest version.

Personally I’m not worried, but thought I should mention it in the interests of full disclosure.

The Verdict

Of course, having long and secure passwords is just one piece of a larger puzzle that involves two-factor authentication and encryption, but having an app that can help improve my security behaviour online whilst actually improving my daily workflow has been more than worth the price of admission.

It’s impossible to overstate how much this piece of software has made my online life easier and more secure and it remains to this day one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

Highly recommended.

1Password is available for Mac (single user: $49.99), iOS ($17.99), Windows (single user: $49.99), and Android (free—reader only). Download the 30 day free trial.


Comic courtesy of the ever-hilarious xkcd

About the Author
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Simon Fairbairn

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Simon Fairbairn is one half of Never Ending Voyage, a digital nomad couple who travel the world indefinitely. He cut his geek teeth on an Amiga 500 and learned computing the hard way—by breaking his dad's desktops and desperately trying to fix them before the old man got home.A recovering PHP developer and web designer, he has since learned Objective-C and now develops iOS apps over at Voyage Travel Apps.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    I have used this app every day for the past 4 years and could not live without it. Great review Simon.

  2. Avatar

    I guess this is like LastPass? I have been using LastPass for years and its free. I like free better than paying. It works perfect, never had any problems with it.
    I could never survive without lastpass as with so many passwords who can remember them all. So I definitely think having a password thingy like this is a must. But not if I have to pay for it. Viva la LastPass!

  3. Avatar

    Hey Simon,

    Do you prefer 1Password over LastPass? If so, why? I’ve been pretty happy with LastPass but am always open to suggestions.

    Thanks,
    Fred

    1. Avatar

      I haven’t used LastPass so I can’t really comment on the quality of their product although I don’t like the idea of it being a primarily online service.

      I find 1Password to be a well-designed and easy to use app and high quality design matters to me, so I’m happy to pay for something with that level of polish.

      However, which app isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you’re using one of these apps so, if you’re happy with what you’ve got, that’s cool.

      Having said that, 1Password has a free 30 day trial if you wanted to give it a test drive.

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