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1Password – Secure Storage for Critical Information

Have You Ever Forgotten A Password?

These are the words which greet a visitor to the AgileBits 1Password Web site. AgileBits is a Canadian small business success story – a software developer based in Toronto with an excellent reputation for the quality of their products. The main application they’re known for is 1Password – a cross-platform tool which runs on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android phones.

Simply put, 1Password helps you manage all those Web passwords that can bemuse us all – moreso, however, it will generate highly-secure passwords that you don’t have to remember because the application will fill the password in for you when you visit the Web site.

If this sounds too good to be true, it’s not – it works and works well. It also has an option, making use of DropBox, where your passwords will synchronize to your other devices – a laptop or a smartphone, for example. This means you’re never without a password when you need it.

So How Does It Work?

When you install the application, you configure it by creating your master password – the one password you really have to remember (and, of course, from where the application gets its name). Then, when you open the program, you enter the master password:

Screen shot 2011 10 10 at 11 42 58 AM

 

 

After the application is installed, the next step is to install a browser extension – there are add-ons for Safari, Firefox, and Google Chrome on OS/X and for IE, Firefox and Chrome on Windows. These extensions really make 1Password fly – with these, you can capture existing site logins, generate secure passwords for new sites and of course, login to sites with the passwords you’ve stored:

Screen shot 2011 10 10 at 11 23 14 AM

 

As can be seen from the screenshot above, the application also indicates whether you’ve used a strong password or not, enabling you to go back to the Web site and create a more secure one. You can also see from the screenshot that 1Password enables you to store more than just Web passwords – you have the option of storing account information, software licence keys and more. I’ve recently started to store information on software I’ve downloaded and bought:

Screen shot 2011 10 10 at 11 24 56 AM

 

Each entry has a window with defined fields where you are able to enter information about the purchase, as can be seen here in the information about the software I’m using to create this post.

Screen shot 2011 10 10 at 11 59 22 AM

 

I’ve even been able to drag the confirmation email from the vendor into the Attachments section of the window to provide further backup if there’s ever a problem.  Finally, for this article, it’s also possible to store account information within the 1Password environment. This screenshot is an example provided by the program, and demonstrates the flexibility of the feature:

Screen shot 2011 10 10 at 11 37 49 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, I’ve found 1Password to be an excellent tool, with solid features – including synchronization with my iPhone. We’ll discuss how that works in a future article.

 

 

Des Dougan is Principal of Dougan Consulting Group, which provides technology support services to small businesses in the Metro Vancouver area.  Des has over 30 years experience in the computer business and can be contacted here and via @ddougan on Twitter.

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