Sync Your Passwords on Windows, Mac and Smartphones
How can I store and sync my passwords, so they will be available to me everywhere? I've got a PC and a Mac in my home, and I carry a laptop and smartphone as well. Is there a single password manager that will sync across all my desktops, browsers, and mobile devices?
Password Managers For Multiple Devices
Few people use just one device for their online activities these days. Many use a PC, laptop, smartphone, public Internet terminals, and work computers. For all of the devices you use every day, it would be nice to have one password management solution.
You could store all of your passwords in a password manager program that resides on a USB thumb drive. But then you'd have to worry about losing the drive, and having a USB port to plug it into on the device that you plan to use. Your library and other public places probably block USB drives from their computers for security reasons.
The ideal solution is to store your passwords online, in a cloud-based app that can be accessed from any device that has a Web browser. That's the direction that many password management solutions are going. It has its pros and cons.
On the plus side, all of your passwords are in one centralized and (hopefully) secure place. If your laptop is lost or stolen, your passwords are still available to you and may not be available to whoever ends up with the device. If you change a password while using your phone, the new password will be available when you use your laptop.
On the other hand, access to your passwords depends on having Internet access. If there is an outage in your local area, you may not be able to access password-protected data on the device you are using. Also, your passwords are exposed to eavesdroppers as they are transmitted to or from the device you are using, unless the connection is encrypted. And no matter what the password keeper's policy says, there's always the chance that someone may access your password database on the provider's server.
Dropbox, the popular online syncing service, plays a role in several password management programs. Dropbox provides the syncing and cloud storage portion of the solution, and must be installed on all of your devices. Because Dropbox is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as the most popular mobile platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry), it offers a solution that meets the needs of those who use both a desktop computer and mobile smartphone.
Cross-Platform Password Managers
That said, companies like RoboForm, LastPass, 1Password and SafeWallet provide simplified access and syncing for all of the passwords you use. Each of these services offers client software for a variety of devices and operating systems. Some use Dropbox, while others use their own proprietary cloud service to store your logins and passwords. Some are free, while others charge a modest fee, or offer a premium paid version. Here's a summary:
- RoboForm Free: Limited to 10 stored logins, does not auto-sync or support mobile devices. No cloud storage.
- RoboForm Everywhere: Costs $19.95/year; unlimited logins, auto-sync across multiple desktops, browsers and mobile devices. Uses proprietary cloud storage.
- LastPass Free: Unlimited logins, sync across multiple desktops and browsers, does not support mobile devices. Uses proprietary cloud storage.
- LastPass Premium: Costs $1 per month; Unlimited logins, sync across multiple desktops, browsers and mobile devices. Uses proprietary cloud storage.
- 1Password: Costs $39 per person per platform (one-time, no annual renewal fee); Unlimited logins, sync across Windows, Mac, iOS and Android (no support for Linux or Blackberry). Uses DropBox for cloud storage.
- SafeWallet: Costs $15 for Windows or Mac version, $4 for Android or iPhone; Unlimited logins, sync across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android or Blackberry (no support for Linux). Uses DropBox for cloud storage.
I know some folks will wonder why I didn't mention Keepass, another popular password manager. The reason is simple... although Keepass is free and open source, it doesn't fit the bill as a cross-platform solution. Keepass is for Windows only, unless you run the portable version under the Mono framework, which is a bit complicated to set up. It also doesn't offer password syncing across mobile devices. Yes, there are some unofficial versions of Keepass for Android, iOS and Blackberry, but you should consider these as experimental, until they are folded into the official Keepass project.
Do you sync passwords across multiple computers, operating systems, and mobile devices? Tell us your preferred method, and why it works best for you. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 22 Feb 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Sync Your Passwords on Windows, Mac and Smartphones (Posted: 22 Feb 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved