Keeping your online accounts secure is becoming ever more important these days as cyber threats continue to evolve and exploit weaknesses in the hopes of stealing mountains of personal data. Weak passwords make a hacker’s job that much easier, but even if you come up with one complex enough, reusing it will compromise all accounts that share the same password – which is where 1Password comes in.
1Password is a password manager that can create and store truly unique passwords in one place, so you don’t have to remember them all. The only password you will need to remember is the password you use to log in to the service itself. Better yet, 1Password has an auto-fill feature that fills in login fields automatically, which not only saves you time but protects you from dodgy phishing pages that aren’t the real deal.
Originally releasing exclusively for macOS, 1Password now supports all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and Chrome OS. It is cross-platform, syncing any password, credit card, driver's license, passport, bank account, and document across all devices.
Although 1Password does its best to remain transparent, the application is a closed source password management tool, which means it is impossible to verify that the company is forthright about what it is doing behind the scenes. If this is a deal-breaker for you, there are open source solutions like KeePass, but these programs aren't as accessible and have a lengthier manual setup time.
For personal use, 1Password’s pricing plans are pretty much in the middle of the pack compared to other top password managers on the market today. The personal plan gets you a single account login, and will run you $2.99 per month when billed annually. That comes out to a very reasonable $35.88 per year. If you want to share a plan with family or friends, then you’re looking at $4.99 per month for five logins with the family plan when billed annually, which comes out to $59.88 per year. You can also add additional account logins for a buck apiece if needed.
Unlike many of its competitors, 1Password does not offer a free plan. That being said, 1Password does offer a 30-day free trial, so you can try it for a month to see if it’s the right solution for you. You don't even need to supply your payment information to activate the trial, meaning you can avoid those pesky automatic charges that usually follow. Despite the page’s best efforts to get you to enter your credit card details, you can simply click on the small link to “Add card later” at the bottom of the page and activate your free trial without being subject to the vexing process of having to enter payment details for something that’s supposed to be free.
Setting up your 1Password account is fairly simple and straightforward. The first thing you will need to do is enter your name and email address. You will then receive a six-digit code via email to verify your account. Next, you will be prompted to add your credit card information. However, as mentioned above, you can add your card later during your 30-day free trial to ensure your service continues uninterrupted should you want to proceed with the service after the trial.
Once you have verified your account, 1Password will automatically create a “Secret Key” for you, which is a locally generated string of 34 letters and numbers unique to your account. This key is needed for each new device you add to your account, but don't worry, you won't have to memorize it thanks to the service's “1Password Emergency Kit,” which stores your Secret Key, email addresses, and your Master Password (optional) in PDF format. The Emergency Kit also includes a unique QR code you can scan to add additional devices without needing to enter your Secret Key. Needless to say, your Emergency Kit contains extremely sensitive information, so we would recommend encrypting the file, printing the PDF and locking it in a fireproof safe deposit box, or storing it with a secure cloud storage service.
Your Master Password is the only password that you will have to remember, so make sure it’s something you won’t forget but strong enough that it can’t be cracked. But in the end, that’s what your Emergency kit is there for in the first place, so you can fall back on it in case you happen to forget your password. That said, if you lose access to your Emergency Kit and forget your Master Password then there’s, unfortunately, no way to recover it since it is neither stored locally nor on 1Password’s servers.
Finally, once you’ve got your account setup and activated, all you must do is install the software onto your laptop, mobile device, or wherever you’ll be using it, and you’re good to go.
Sync across multiple devices
“Watchtower” provides you with an alert in case of a password breach or other security issue with your passwords
Securely save and autofill credit card details
Secure document storage
Import data from other password managers (or via CSV file)
Securely share passwords with family and team members (with Business and Family accounts)
Organize saved passwords in your vault according to the categories of your choosing (e.g. “work”, “banking”, “social”, “shopping”, etc.)
Securely store your driver’s license, passport, or other forms of ID
Compatible with all major desktop and mobile operating systems
Temporarily remove certain vaults from your computer or devices when you travel with “Travel Mode”
Ease of Use
You will be able to use 1Password on practically all your devices across all major desktop and mobile operating systems, including macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, as well as from your command line.
If you’ve used a password manager before, then you can import your previously saved passwords into 1Password from Chrome, Dashlane, LastPass, SplashID, or Roboform. From any other password manager, you can import your data into 1Password via a CSV file. Importing your passwords is incredibly simple and can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Even exporting to a CSV file and importing the file to your 1Password account is entirely painless. One very important consideration to keep in mind if you import from a CSV file is that all your passwords will be plainly visible in the unencrypted file. Therefore, it is imperative that you delete the file immediately after you’ve imported your passwords to your vault. 1Password helpfully alerts you to this fact and urges you to delete the file after the import has successfully completed (which literally takes about a second or two).
We found that the everyday use of 1Password is quite straightforward and consistent across its applications and across supported devices. We were pleased with the entire look, feel and usability of the web app, desktop app, mobile app, and browser extension, which all performed as advertised and made for a truly seamless experience. The dashboard is intuitive and easy to navigate and manage, even for those users who may not have used a password manager before. There certainly isn’t much of any learning curve to get started using and getting comfortable with 1Password and its functionality. The company does a great job of onboarding new users and offers step-by-step guides and video tutorials on its website to help you hit the ground running.
Once you’ve gotten started and have your usernames and passwords loaded into your dashboard, the browser extension makes it simple to log into your online accounts. When logging into your accounts, you will see a 1Password icon situated within the entry fields for your username and password. Simply click on the 1Password icon and it will give you the option to fill in the username and saved password automatically to login quickly.
Note that you will need to be actively logged into the browser extension for this to work. You can also choose to log into certain accounts by searching for the website or service you wish to log into from the search bar in the browser extension, in the app, or from your toolbar. As you begin searching, the window will automatically begin populating with the logins you have already saved in your dashboard. Simply click on the website or service you wish to log into and click the “Go” button, which will take you directly to the website and log you in automatically.
If you are registering a new online account that you haven’t yet signed up for and haven’t saved in your dashboard, 1Password will offer to generate a strong password for you at the time of registration. Just click on the 1Password icon in the password field and click the option to use the generated password and save it to your dashboard. You can also enter a password of your own and save it to your dashboard if you'd prefer, but 1Passwords generator is often stronger. Either way, the process is incredibly simple and straightforward.
Overall, getting started, importing and saving passwords, logging into accounts, and saving credit cards and other documents is extraordinarily simple with 1Password. We found that the functionality across apps is first rate and the program’s general ease of use is superb.
Security and Privacy
1Password declares on its website that “security is not just a feature, it’s our foundation,” adding that protecting the user’s security and privacy is the basis for every design decision the company makes. All of your data with 1Password is fully encrypted end-to-end via military-grade AES 256-bit encryption while at rest, and via TLS while in transit.
The master password you use to sign in to your account is never stored with your 1Password data, nor is it ever sent across the network. On top of that, the secret key generated for you upon setup is also unique to you and never stored on 1Password servers, only on your local device. This means not even 1Password has access to your master password, just you. Although this also means that there is no way to recover your master password should you forget it, it does make the service much more secure overall.
Additional features geared toward protecting your privacy and security include ‘Watchtower’ which alerts you to any data breaches or other security issues with items you have saved in your dashboard, keylogger protection, phishing protection, auto-logout after 10 minutes of inactivity, email alerts after new sign-ins from other devices, and ‘Travel Mode’, which allows you to mark certain vaults as ‘not safe for travel’ and temporarily hide those vaults in the app while enabled in case you are selected for inspection while traveling.
Even though, as mentioned earlier, 1Password’s system is closed source, we found the company’s transparency about how it secures user data along with the wealth of information on the website dedicated to explaining its security practices in detail quite encouraging. 1Password’s zero knowledge approach also solidifies our confidence in the service’s commitment to and capability in properly protecting user data.
The 1Password website features an extensive knowledge base that covers virtually any issue or question about the service that a user may come across. There are videos and step-by-step tutorials on various subject matters to help users get the most out of the service, in addition to the multitude of help articles. The support forum is a vast trove of user-generated content moderated and supported by the 1Password team that spans pretty much anything any user would need to know about using the service. We found the knowledge base and support forum extremely useful, conveniently organized by topic, and simple to search through.
You can also contact the support staff via an online email ticketing system or through Twitter. Live chat is available, but oddly only for business accounts. To test it out, we contacted the support team via the live chat function anyway and received a response three hours later letting us know that live chat support is only available for business users. When clicking on the “Email 1Password Support” link, we were taken to a second page which listed links to a handful of help articles related to presumably frequently encountered issues that users may have. We then clicked on “I don’t see my problem listed” and were taken to yet another page listing a few more links to additional help articles. Finally, once we clicked on “None of these apply” we were taken to the contact form where we could enter a name, email address, and a message for the support staff.
Clearly, 1Password is aiming to limit the number of support tickets that actually make it through to the support staff with this tactic. But to the company’s credit, the support knowledge base and forum are extensive and the answers to most issues can certainly be found there. Additionally, you may very well find it more convenient to get a satisfactory answer to your issue immediately via a help article rather than waiting for an emailed response from a 1Password staff member. If you can’t find the answer to an issue in the knowledge base or support forum, or if you otherwise prefer receiving personal support, you can, with a bit of persistence, get in contact with an actual human.
The 1Password pricing page proudly boasts “Friendly 24/7 email support” as one of the features available for users, but this seems a big of an exaggeration, in our experience, as we received a response approximately nine hours after submitting a contact form. Sure, you can submit a support ticket at any time day or night, but don’t expect to receive true 24/7 support around the clock.
In the end, we were quite pleased with the overall 1Password experience. The apps performed as advertised and worked seamlessly across devices; the dashboard was intuitive and easy to get used to, and the wealth of information and helpful resources on the website was impressive.
The security and privacy features, along with 1Password’s dedicated commitment to protecting user data left us confident in the quality of the service. Customer support left something to be desired if you find yourself needing to talk to a human, but the user-supported knowledge base did prove to be capable of solving most problems you might have.
On top of all that, the very reasonable pricing options make 1Password a great value for the functionality and security you’re getting when you sign up. What’s more, 30-day free trial is a great way to test this fully featured and highly secure password manager. We’d certainly recommend giving 1Password a shot to see if it’s the right solution for you.