Password managers like 1Password are a necessity for keeping your online activity secure. There are just too many apps and services a person uses every day. You can’t track passwords or remember to change them without a tool like 1Password. I’m a big fan personally and have written about how I use 1Password before. Now, Agilebits, the developers of 1Password have released an upgrade. If you’re on the subscription model, you get it for free. If you bought it outright, the question is if it’s worth the cost to upgrade as there is no upgrade pricing.
1Password: Subscription or Stand-Alone?
If you’re on the subscription plan, you’re upgraded. Nothing more you need to do. That’s the beauty of a subscription. I debated about switching to subscription. The advantages are primarily automatic upgrades to the latest version. They also do the syncing for you with the service. The service gives you more control if something goes wrong and gives you access to your passwords on other devices.
For example, I’m a big fan of Chromebooks. But I can’t access my 1Password database anymore remotely from Dropbox. Unless I subscribe to their service, I’m lost on other devices. The subscription gives you unlimited installs on any platform along with access through the web. The one feature that might make me switch to the subscription is Travel Mode that protects my database from prying eyes at the border. Unless I mark my password as travel safe, it’s not available on my device at the border. If I traveled internationally more frequently or the privacy rules of mobile devices erode, I’d consider the subscription.
Because I’m just on a Mac and iPhone, I’m staying with the stand-alone pricing. At $36 a year, I think I’m better off just buying the software outright. If you and other family members are also using 1Password, the yearly $59.88 family plan is a pretty good deal, too. It covers up to five people at that price. Buying it outright for that many people would cost much more.
It is Faster Loading, More Stable, Looks Better
1Password hadn’t been upgraded in five years and it showed. The program on the Mac was this combination of a standalone and a “mini” app. Now that’s been streamlined along with the browser extensions. Those changes make it look nice and work better, but that’s not worth the upgrade price to me.
Easier to Use
Password managers that make you go through too many steps aren’t of much use. 1Password finally lets you drag and drop your password directly into websites and programs. That means I don’t have to install a browser extension for it to work on the web.
Agilebits also improved the password vaults. Right in the sidebar, it tells you which vault you’re using. I track other family member passwords so I keep stuff in different vaults. Of course, if I did the family subscription I wouldn’t need to do that. I previously did this with tags. Now I can search those tags, which really should have been in there earlier considering how common it is.
The feature that sold me on the upgrade was the new and improved Watchtower. Previously Watchtower told you if your password was compromised and if you reused passwords on multiple sites.
If you aren’t using 2FA everywhere possible, 1Password now lets you know by comparing against twofactorauth.org. I admit I don’t check for upgraded security on sites very often. The fact 1Password is doing it for me absolutely keeps me more secure. Right from the app, they link directly to the instructions on how to enable 2FA. For me, this feature of “Watchtower” is worth the price of the new version.
There’s one other very cool feature in 1Password that I fell in love with: expiring items. If you put an expiration date on things like credit cards, passwords, and driver licenses, you get a warning it’s about to expire. That helped me realize a credit card was lost in the mail. The bank sent me a new one and I never received it. I wouldn’t have realized that if I hadn’t checked Watchtower.
Overall Upgrade Probably Worth it
While the increased stability and better organization are nice, I’m not sure it’s worth the money. Those are small features that should have been in there years ago. However, the checking of expiration dates and 2FA is very forward-thinking for those of us who are security conscious. I don’t have time to check which sites support 2FA. I try to keep track of expiration dates in my calendar program but I just have too much stuff to track these days.