UPDATE: In one of my next posts you can read more about how I configured KeePass and KeePassDroid Dropbox synchronization and security. You can similarly configure KeePass with your iPhone apps (either MiniKeePass, iKeePass, MyKeePass, KyPass) or with Windows phone (7Pass).
As recommended in my Ten Tips to Avoid Email Scam, you should never use the same password on different accounts, otherwise you are risking much more when (not if) hackers breach one of your accounts. But once you have many different passwords, keeping a note with some of them stuck to your monitor or under your keyboard is not good either, unless you wish to see your IT guys pulling their hair while you gamble with both security of systems you access and with your job. The best way to protect all your accounts is to get a good password manager with one password to rule them all, where you store all your different credentials and only need to remember the master password.
Best Android Password Managers with Desktop Synchronization
My favorite three desktop-syncing Android password management apps mentioned here in the past are still worth recommending for Android phones and tablets – KeePassDroid, LastPass and Pocket. All work on phones and tablets and have a desktop application counterpart that allows use and synchronization with computers, and all use very high encryption standards that have been virtually impossible to break when used with secure master password.
KeePassDroid is my favorite Android password manager, relying and based on the trustworthy KeePass Password Safe, an open source password manager that’s extremely secure and flexible with a large number of options and plugins. Like KeePassDroid, the KeePass PC application is very small and fast, secure, bug-free and reliable, absolutely free, and it has versions and ports for Windows, Linux, Android, Mac and iPhone. For those who require top security it offers combined authentication of master password AND a key file, which is also a great feature for additional cloud security – you replicate and synchronize the database, but the key file remains only on your device(s) and computer(s) and without having both the key file and the password, the database cannot be read. The PC version also includes a secure auto-type feature which has unsurpassed protection from key loggers and password snatchers. After careful consideration and comparison with my other two favorites below, I decided to continue using KeePassDroid and KeePass, now combined and synchronized with Dropbox.
For those who don’t mind spending a bit more I recommend LastPass as a password manager with a great holistic solution and a good balance of convenience and security. It works not only for storing your passwords, but also for auto typing, filling out forms and accessing protected sites with a single click. On your computers it can act as a browser plugin with impressive compatibility across all major browsers and mobile devices, including PCs, Macs, Android, iOS(iPhone and iPad), even Blackberry and webOS. This solution has also received great reviews on CNET, PC World and other popular review sites, but if you want to use its auto fill feature on Android, the app must not be moved to the SD card (must remain on phone’s internal storage). Moreover, if you compare its cost with the other two apps from this review, LastPass gets much more expensive in the long run – at $1 monthly it will cost you $36 in three years or $60 in five.
Pocket Pro will cost you only $1.99 total, but unlike the other two it’s strictly focused on Android without compatibility with iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod). It has Android and Windows/Mac/Linux desktop software, but it requires a Dropbox account for synchronization, so you have to set that up separately if you don’t already have one. With solutions that depend on universal cloud storage I’ve always wondered what happens if you mistakenly upload too many photos, movies or music files and run out of space – will it stop syncing this, usually very small password file? I don’t know, but that’s a purely theoretical reason for concern, as I usually don’t store many files online due to the limited download and much lower upload speeds.
After research and reading again through reviews I was getting ready to install Pocket on my wife’s Android phone and PC, thinking it would be more convenient for her than my KeePassDroid with manual database synchronization. Had that worked out great, I would have abandoned KeePassDroid and switched to Pocket myself as well. But the obstacle I ran into was that we both were using Box (AKA Box.net) for cloud file storage while Pocket only synchronizes with Dropbox. That was a bit awkward, but I hesitated even more after my email with a question to the author and my two posts in the Pocket App forum went unanswered for almost two months now, which is consistent with some end user reviews in Google Play (AKA Android App) Store and it makes you wonder wether to rely on this solution. Still, after being unable to configure Box with it, I decided to create new accounts on Dropbox to try it.
Nevertheless, once I opened the free account and configured Dropbox synchronization on my wife’s PC I saw how seamless, easier and cheaper it is to sync files from PC to the cloud and to another PC/phone/user with it than with Box (requires paid subscription for that functionality), so I changed my mind. Why not use Dropbox as a placeholder for KeePass database on the PC? In addition, once you set up a Dropbox account, KeePassDroid becomes as convenient as the other two apps and together with its great security (that I trust more because it’s open source) and zero cost, it gets more attractive to me. Sounded great and indeed, works great, and that was the end of my quest – I explored several apps only to return to the one I was using originally, but now armed with cloud synchronization.
In my next post you can see how I configured KeePass and KeePassDroid synchronization via Dropbox.
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