One way to keep up with the hundreds of logins we need on a daily basis is to use a password manager. Two of the most popular right now are 1Password and LastPass. Both manage your passwords, offer automatic login and a range of other tools to help your online life. But which should you use? Read ‘1Password vs LastPass, which is the best password manager?’ to find out.
Also see our article How To Stop Password Prompts and Auto-Login in Windows 10
Use one of these tools and you can generate truly unique and hard to crack passwords for every website and app you need a login for. You can specify up to 24 character passwords for everywhere on the internet and you don’t have to remember a single one. As long as you remember the master password to access the password manager, you’re golden.
Therein lies a problem with password managers. That master password is a single point of failure. You need to protect your password manager with a seriously secure password and keep it totally unique. The company behind the manager must also keep the system secure and any cloud databases encrypted. Both 1Password and LastPass do just that.
That single point of failure may be a concern for the truly paranoid. For the rest of us, the advantage of being able to generate unique passwords every time far outweighs the risk of potential compromise.
What makes a good password manager?
To be worth using, a password manager should make life easy for us. It should generate secure passwords, offer online and offline access, work with two-factor authentication, integrate with your browser, offer to automatically log you in and alert you if anything goes wrong.
Both 1Password and LastPass include many of these features.
1Password has been around since 2006 and has gained a reputation for solid performance throughout that time. It creates an encrypted database on your computer where it will store your login details. It differs from many password managers in that it isn’t online. Some will view this as a more secure solution. Others will not.
1Password costs $2.99 a month for individuals or $4.99 a month for families billed annually. So is a substantial investment. The company behind it, AgileBits, has recently introduced that subscription model to make it a little more palatable. It isn’t exactly cheap but how much is your security worth?
The program began life on Mac and it shows. The company added Windows and Android compatibility a couple of years ago but the features on both are way behind that of Mac and iOS. The Android app isn’t up to much and while the Windows one has more features, it isn’t as easy to use as on Mac. Plus, for some reason my copy never keeps me logged in. Every time I want to use a password or automatic login, I have to enter my master password to get 1Password to work. Not ideal but not exactly a showstopper either.
There are security advantages to not storing logins in the cloud but it can make keeping everything in sync a challenge. 1Password overcomes this by allowing you to sync over Wi-Fi, USB or via cloud storage so with a little effort you can keep multiple devices secure.
Overall, 1Password is simple to use, secure and offers all the functionality we would want. But it comes at a price.
LastPass is one of the most popular password managers in the world. It has been around for years and has refined the product constantly. It differs from 1Password in that it is an online password manager that stores all your logins in a secure vault on the LastPass servers.
The program uses browser extensions and mobile apps to provide its services and automatically synchronizes everything. There are three pricing models, free, premium and enterprise. The free version is fully featured and all most of us would need. Premium adds secure cloud storage and extra encryption options. Enterprise supports multiple users and lots of security profile options suitable for business.
The free option is suitable for most of us but for only $12 a year, it is worth supporting the product and getting access to that 1GB of secure storage. LastPass is compatible with all web browsers, all operating systems and both iOS and Android. The features are the same across all of these so nobody is left out.
The downside of LastPass is that everything is stored online. The company was hacked a couple years ago which highlighted a weakness in the system. Nothing was stolen and LastPass reacted quickly and seriously upgraded their security. Plus, they have recently been bought by Citrix so expect security to be number one of the company’s agenda.
Overall, LastPass is very simple to use and interact with. It takes care of everything automatically and is very easy to live with.
So 1Password vs LastPass, which is the best?
This is a tough one because ‘best’ is so subjective. Plus, I have used LastPass since 2010 and think it is excellent so may be biased.
I would say, if you are paranoid or very aware of your security 1Password has the edge. It is installed on your computer and not the cloud and cannot be hacked so easily. It works well and offers two-factor authentication. The downside is the price. It is expensive for what it is.
If you are more concerned with usability, LastPass delivers. Being cloud based means you always have access to your logins wherever in the world you may be and whatever device you might be using at the time. The apps are far better than 1Password and usability is way ahead. The pricing is also way ahead of 1Password too. For very similar features, LastPass is a quarter of the price. The downside is that there is still a theoretical risk to security as everything is stored online.
My favorite? If you hadn’t guessed already, it’s LastPass. 1Password is too expensive, doesn’t always save passwords properly and makes it difficult to sync between machines. Since the hack, LastPass have seriously upped their game and now offer what I consider to be a very good product for only $1 a month.