1Password review: A top-security password manager
1Password is a password manager that works on almost every platform out there. The publisher provides desktop apps for Windows and macOS, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and browser plugins for Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Brave. Since the Chrome plugin replicates more or less the full feature set of the desktop app, you can use it to run and manage 1Password from Chrome OS or Linux, too.
The software securely stores login details, credit cards, private notes and numerous bits of personal information, and can insert them into web forms with a click or a tap. The Watchtower component warns you about any passwords that are weak or vulnerable, as well as any websites that might not be secure, and if you’ve invested in a family subscription, you can easily share particular credentials with specific people.
1Password review: What do you get for the money?
1Password doesn’t offer a free service: you can try it out for for 14 days, but after that you have to pay to keep using it. An individual subscription costs £36 a year (around GBP26 at the time of writing), and allows you to store and synchronise up to 1GB of data across any number of devices and platforms.
If you want to share information with anyone else you’ll need a family account, which costs £60 per year (around GBP43) for up to five people. Members don’t really have to all be from the same household, and you can add extra people for a dollar per month each.
You can also nominate up to five guests for read-only access to selected items. For organisational use, the publisher offers a flexible Teams subscription tier costing £4 per user per month, and a fully loaded Business plan for £8 per month. The latter includes 5GB of document storage, granular security controls, auditing features and family accounts for all team members.
1Password review: Is it good value compared to the competition?
As we’ve mentioned, a standard subscription to 1Password works out to around GBP26 a year. That’s less than you’ll pay for Dashlane (GBP29) or LastPass (GBP31.20). The Family plan costs £60 (around GBP43) per annum, which is the same as Dashlane, and GBP1.20 a year more than LastPass.
While the price looks competitive, however, you can’t share credentials with an individual 1Password account, as you can with its rivals.
1Password also offers no equivalent to Dashlane’s built-in VPN. Meanwhile, the open-source Bitwarden offers cross-platform password management for free, and its family offering comes in at just £40 a year, equivalent to around GBP28.
1Password review: Is it easy to use?
I found 1Password slightly fiddly to set up.
Each time you install it on a new device or browser you need to provide your master password plus your unique 34-character secret key (or scan in a QR code). Importing my passwords from Chrome was a manual affair, too, that involved exporting a CSV file from the browser, then dragging it into 1Password. After the initial setup you can capture additional passwords, addresses and other personal details as you go.
When you enter text into a web form, 1Password pops up a button underneath it offering to remember what you’ve typed. If you save your details, the next time you click into the login field, 1Password will prompt you to click to fill in your information. It won’t fill in and submit credentials automatically like some password managers can, but on the desktop you can press Ctrl+ anywhere on a site to have 1Password paste in the details.
1Password also makes it easy to create secure passwords when signing up to sites: when you click into a field where you’re supposed to enter a new password, it automatically pops up a strong, random password which you can accept with a click, and save with a second click. Try 1Password now
1Password review: Does it have any other notable features?
The Watchtower dashboard (in either the main website or the desktop app) tells you which of your passwords are weak, reused or potentially compromised. This is useful information, although 1Password does nothing to help you actually change credentials, beyond providing a direct link to each site.
If you’re using the family package, you can also collect items together into a shared family vault and specify exactly who can access passwords and who can change them. It’s convenient and works well, but it’s annoying that you can’t share credentials with users who aren’t in your family group.
Finally, a unique feature of 1Password is its Travel Mode, which can protect your credentials from snooping authorities. Once you’ve enabled it from the web console, selected items will be completely invisible and inaccessible, so even if you’re required to surrender your phone for inspection, no one will be able to see which sites you frequent or access your accounts.
1Password review: Is it safe?
1Password requires more manual interaction than Dashlane or LastPass, but the software is designed this way for a good reason: it’s to make certain that your personal data can’t get inserted anywhere without your knowledge, and to ensure that you can’t get locked out of your accounts. That’s a reassurance you may consider worth a few extra clicks.
Similarly, the need to enter your secret key when registering a new device makes it effectively impossible for any intruder to guess or brute-force their way into your account. For even greater peace of mind, you can configure 1Password to require two-factor authentication before unlocking your stored credentials. Try 1Password now
1Password review: Could I get locked out of my account?
Your master password is never transmitted to 1Password’s servers, so if you lose it the publisher can’t help you recover it.
There’s also no provision for automatically giving someone else access to your accounts if you’re incapacitated.
Rather, 1Password promotes the distinctly old-school approach of printing out your encryption details, writing down your master password and passing a copy on to a trusted friend.
Nothing directly prevents them from abusing this information, but you’ll know right away if they do, as you get a notification whenever your master password is used on a new device. You’re also covered in the eventuality that 1Password shuts down; the software uses open encryption standards, so as long as you have your secret key and master password you can use third-party tools to recover your stored credentials.
1Password review: Should you buy it?
If you want a password manager that’s as invisible as possible, 1Password isn’t it. You’ll get on better with LastPass for a similar price, or even Bitwarden’s free offering.
It also feels slightly short on features when compared to Dashlane, since it offers only limited sharing of credentials and no VPN. However, 1Password really goes the extra mile to safeguard your credentials, the Travel Mode provides additional reassurance for frequent flyers, and you can run it on just about anything. That makes several good reasons why you might choose this password manager to keep your online identities safe.