1Password is the most reliable password manager we've tested, and they bring plenty of value to the table with their families plan. They do look a little dated and have some pretty irritating cons, but still a very solid choice! Learn more.
1Password Review – 7 Pros & 5 Cons of Using 1Password
June 03, 2020
1Password to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them.
Sorry folks, couldn’t resist that LOTR reference.
If you chanced upon this article, you’re probably considering getting a 1Password account either for yourself or for your family.
Well, since we’ve made it our mission to empower businesses small and large worldwide with the tools they need to achieve dizzying heights of success, we took it upon ourselves to do a detailed review on 1Password, and share with you our thoughts on one of the most eligible password managers in town.
But first, how about a little introduction?
1Password – A Canadian Giant
1Password was founded in Toronto, Canada all the way back in June 2005 by co-founders David Teare and Roustem Karimov. Nobody really knows what went on in their minds when they decided to start AgileBits (which is the company they used to develop 1Password) but we sure are glad they had the foresight to create something as useful as this password manager.
Having been in business for over 15 years, 1Password is an outlier in a sea of generic startups. They claim to have been profitable from day 1, which we found very impressive because it’s not something many companies can claim to have achieved.
They also grew their business the traditional way, none of that fancy venture capital funding all the hipster companies use to grow their beards these days.
In 2012, 1Password brought Jeff Shiner on as CEO, and he helped the company grow from just 20 employees to having over 174 today. Shiner also took 1Password’s direct to consumer business model and started offering services to businesses, which brought the already profitable company even more success.
Recently, the company decided to open up their doors to venture capital funding, a good 15 years after starting off their business.
As an already successful company, there is no way rookie numbers will bring any sort of benefit to the firm, so they went all-in and emerged triumphant announcing a sweet $200 million in Series A funding led by Accel, the firm’s largest single investment in a round of funding.
Can you trust 1Password with your data?
So if a company like Accel is able to trust 1Password enough with a decent chunk of funding, do you think we as customers should trust 1Password with our data?
We sure think so.
Throughout the years, there have been plenty of data breaches from tech giants, some even involving established password managers like LastPass. As a matter of fact, most password managers out there have had some sort of data breach over the years.
1Password is one of the only password managers we’ve come across that has NEVER had their data breached before.
Even if some ne’er do well successfully gets through 1Password’s considerable defences, there is no way they’ll be able to read your data due to the security measures the company employs to protect your information.
We’ll be elaborating about this later on in this review.
For now, let’s look at how 1Password managed to rock our world!
7 Features We Love On 1Password
1. Easy onboarding & setup!
1Password made it really easy for new users to sign up, set-up and use their software. Not once did we feel lost or annoyed at the process.
After signing up, 1Password will provide you with your secret key via a pop-up. Stash this code somewhere safe, because they don’t keep a copy of it – if you lose it, it’s completely irrecoverable and they can’t help you log into your account.
Some of us might not know what to do with our secret key, and 1Password is thoughtful enough to give you ideas on how to store it safely.
After registering your account, you should see the 1Password UI. It’s simple, straightforward enough for the general public to use without asking for help. You’ll also be prompted to install the desktop app.
Clicking on the “Get The Apps” button will lead you to a page where you can download 1Password for your PC. Since I use a Windows based PC, I clicked on “1Password for Windows”.
Once the exe file is downloaded and launched, you’ll need to key in your master password to continue.
Once you’ve sorted that out, you should have full access to your vaults and all of 1Password’s features. But for now, nevermind that. We’re going to follow the onscreen instructions and download the app for our devices.
Installing the app on my Android phone was easy enough through the Play Store. The app asked for the secret key, which I was too lazy to retrieve so I tried scanning the setup code with the app, which in my humble opinion is the more convenient way to do things.
The app will then ask you if you want to turn on biometric unlock, autofill and accessibility – I highly suggest you allow 1Password to do all this, as it enhances the entire experience.
Now that you’ve done this, all of your logins and passwords are securely synced between your devices! Hurrah!
2. Effortlessly import passwords!
Importing passwords and logins to the vault proved to be quite easy. Not exactly child’s play, but it shouldn’t be an issue to anyone who’s used a computer in the past 5 years or so.
There isn’t a tutorial or any sort of guide, so we’ve decided to step up and show you how it’s done.
Search for your name in the upper right corner, click and you’ll see a dropdown menu. Hit “Import”.
1Password will ask you to choose which app to import your login data from. For the purpose of this review, we went with Chrome but feel free to click on whichever app you previously used.
After clicking on “Chrome”, we were met with the following screen.
This basically means you’ll have to download your CSV data from Chrome manually. Don’t know how to do it?
No worries, we’ve got your back.
See the three little buttons below? Click it and in the drop-down menu, hit “Settings”.
After that, hit “Passwords” then click on the three small buttons again, then hit “Export Passwords”.
Next, download the CSV file into your desktop. Locate the file and drag it to the 1Password interface, and 1Password will do the rest of the work for you.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully imported your login data into the system! Like we’ve mentioned, it’s not as easy as a fully automated importing process, but it’s not exactly rocket science either.
3. Tighter security with 2-Factor Authentication!
One of the ways to keep your data safe from scummy scammers is to enable 2-factor authentication (2FA), especially if you’re dealing with highly sensitive sites like banking portals with your mobile phone.
We’re pleased to discover that 2FA is available with 1Password, but for some reason, they’re not exactly forthcoming with how to set it up.
First, you’ll need to login to 1Password. Once you’ve done that, go to “My Profile”, click on “More Actions” then “Manage Two Factor Authentication”.
Hit “Set Up App” and you’ll be presented with a pop up with a QR code. Scan that code with an authenticator app like Google Authenticator.
The authenticator will provide you with a 6-digit passcode. Key in that passcode in the next screen to proceed.
After that, you’re done! 2FA is now set up for your 1Password account.
4. 1Password has Watchtower!
With a name as awesome as the Watchtower, you’d expect this feature to be uber-cool… and it doesn’t disappoint!
The Watchtower feature basically crawls the web to check if any of your logins have been previously compromised. If your logins or passwords have been breached before, it’ll appear as vulnerable and you’ll be given a prompt to update those passwords.
It’ll also tell you if your passwords have been reused, used on unsecured websites, or just plain weak, just like your biceps (do you even lift, bro?).
While we found this feature infinitely useful in warning us about compromised data, we thought they could be a bit more helpful in fixing those data breaches. We wish that there was a quick & easy way to change the passwords of all the vulnerable reused logins, but alas, there isn’t any.
We’ll discuss more about this in the cons section.
5. Categories Aplenty!
A password manager’s job is just to help you remember your login details, but if they decide to do a little extra, we’d be more than happy with the extra service.
1Password went above and beyond just being a password manager. They provided us with categories to store all our private data so we don’t need to worry about remembering every single important thing. Better yet, everything that’s stored is conveniently accessible to you through your devices!
Aside from logins, you get:
- Secure Notes
Here, you get to note down whatever sensitive data that doesn’t fit anywhere else and keep it away from prying eyes. We’re looking at things like your WiFi password, insurance data, your wife’s birthday, or your girlfriend’s address – put it all in secure notes where they are easily accessible yet secured.
- Credit Card Details
This makes online shopping easier, faster, more convenient and secure. One of the main purposes of getting a password manager (for me at least) was the convenience & quickness of it all. Once my credit card details are keyed in, checkout forms are auto-filled for me.
That sort of convenience is priceless!
You know those pesky personal detail forms you’ll need to fill in when registering for a service? Say goodbye to that, because 1Password does it all for you. Again, it’s a small convenience but it’s helpful in a big way.
6. Account sharing with upto 5 users!
Sharing truly is caring, and with the 1Password Families plan (which is what we’re using, which we also recommend as it provides the best value) you can share 1Password with up to 4 other users.
You’re really only supposed to be sharing with family members only, but I don’t see why you can’t gift an extra slot to a friend as a birthday gift or something.
If you have concerns about the people you share the account with having access to your vaults, fret not.
Each person has access to their own private vault and their own private vault only, so no one can see each other’s passwords and logins. Privacy is ensured, security is maintained, everyone is happy.
On top of account sharing, you can use 1Password on ALL of the devices you own. We’re talking about your laptop, your desktop, your work desktop, the iPhone, the spare iPhone, the upstairs iPad, downstairs iPad, and the janky iPad that’s dedicated for the toilet only.
They’re all synced too, so once you store a login on one device, it’s synced to ALL devices for that sweet sweet convenience.
7. 1Password has awesome security!
1Password just about knocks it out of the park with their impressive security measures. We’re serious – with the kind of defences they’ve set up, you’re protected from just about everything. Let’s take a look.
- 256-bit End-to-End Encryption
This technology makes it practically impossible for anyone to hijack your data while it’s in transit. When you’re syncing your 1Password vault with your devices, it stays safe, regardless of whether you’re on WiFi or mobile data.
- Master Password combined with a Secret Key
The Master Password uses PBKDF2 key strengthening, which essentially makes it difficult for someone to brute force your Master Password.
On top of that, 1Password uses a secret 128-bit key to protect each of your devices, which is stored locally on your device and in your emergency kit. It is, as its name implies, secret. You’re the only one with access to it, and 1Passwords keeps no records of it. Make sure to keep it under lock and key (pun intended).
Combined, it’s one of the most efficient ways of keeping your data safe from people with ill intentions.
You can set 1Password to auto-lock when your PC goes into sleep mode or at selected intervals. This ensures that nobody can hijack your devices and log in to your accounts willy nilly when you leave the desktop for a short break.
- Phishing Protection
You know how scummy scammers are able to almost recreate websites with scary accuracy right down to the domain name to phish for your details?
It might be easy to miss with the human eye, but it’ll never fool 1Password. It only logs in to websites it recognizes, so if one day the login doesn’t work, you might want to get suspicious and check to see whether it’s really the intended website you’re logging in to.
- Biometric Access for Mobile Devices
Human fingerprints are like snowflakes – no two are ever the same. This means that it is one of the most effective security measures around, as it’s really unlikely for someone else to have the same fingerprint as you (well, unless you’re cloned). In which case, nothing’s ever really safe now is there?
5 Things 1Password Can Improve On
So far, 1Password is really good… but it’s not good enough for us to blindly recommend it over other password managers. Here’s why.
1. Autofill isn’t as effective
Other password managers we’ve reviewed made autofill really efficient. Whenever there’s a login form, a little button will appear right next to the form and you just have to click it once, and the form will auto-populate. It’s literally a 1-click process. Next thing you know, you’re logged in.
1Password works a little differently. Whenever there’s a login form, you need to click on the extension button on the upper right-hand corner of your browser. Once you do that, you’ll have to click on your login details, THEN it’ll log in for you.
It’s essentially a 3 step process – go upper right, click once, click a second time. It’s not a big deal, but it can potentially be much more convenient.
Pro tip: “Ctrl + \” brings up the extension, which then automatically logs you in. This shortens the process down to a single step, but it doesn’t always work.
2. UI is a little dated
Initial impressions of the UI is that it’s a bit jarring.
Usually, navigational pane is on the left, but 1Password’s navigational pane and features are all on the right. The interface also looks a bit unrefined.
It’s not messy, just not as clean or intuitive as the other password managers we’ve used.
The desktop app UI is something we’re more used to but it could still use some work as it still looks a bit dated.
3. Cannot share details with non-users
Remember earlier when we said sharing is caring?
With 1Password, you can only share your passwords, secure notes and details with people that are already on the platform. There is no way to share these details with people who don’t have a subscription and there is no button to invite them to join us.
Come on 1Password, you can do better than this!
4. No free plan
This ties in directly with con #3.
Without a free plan, you are limited to sharing your secure notes only with people who are already on the plan.
This kinda sucks because if I want to share it with someone who is NOT on 1Password and has no intention to sign up, I’ll have to copy the password manually, share it via an unsecured method, and then change my passwords after I’m done.
It’s very inefficient and sorta grinds my gears a little bit.
5. Cannot update all passwords with one click
Remember that bit about the Watchtower detecting to see if you have compromised passwords? If you look closely, you’ll notice that I have a whopping 72 passwords that are vulnerable.
Do you realize what a monumental task it is for me to log in to all 72 sites just to change my password? With the time and effort it takes to do that, I’m not surprised if people are just gonna leave those logins as is, which defeats the purpose of having a secure password manager in the first place.
We wish that 1Password provided us with a way to change all our vulnerable passwords with just a click, but I guess we’ll have to live with what we’re given.
1Password Plan & Pricing
1Password has two types of plans, one for Personal & Family and another for Team & Business.
Personal & Family
Restore Del. Passwords
Upto 5 users
Yes (with users only)
Team & Business
Custom Security Control
How Does 1Password Perform Against Competition?
We promised you a thorough review and we can’t exactly call this a thorough review without first comparing 1Password against the competition, can we?
1Password VS NordPass
Both 1Password and NordPass pretty much deliver a whole lot of value to their users.
However, we feel that if we had to pick one in terms of value, we’d go with 1Password.
It may not be as easy to use as NordPass, but they’ve got more features going for them and users have the option of picking the Families plan, allowing them to share the account with 4 other people.
Having said that, if NordPass were to launch a similar plan and start implementing more features, we’d pick them over 1Password any day.
We’re kinda biased towards how easy to use their software is.
This is where NordPass gets a leg up over 1Password.
The drawback to being one of the oldest service providers in the industry is it’s really hard to change your interface.
1Password’s UI looks like it’s stuck in the 90s and can be quite confusing to use. Once you’re accustomed to it, navigation shouldn’t be a problem but the learning curve can be quite steep.
NordPass has the advantage of being young, hence resulting in a younger UI team that knows how to create a UX catered for the modern crowd.
Their interface is cleaner, much simpler to navigate through, and is better in every way.
Again, 1Password has NordPass beat in terms of features.
As one of the oldest players in the password generator industry, 1Password has all the time they need to come up with features and tweak them to perfection.
This results in one of the most comprehensive, feature-rich password management programs we’ve had the pleasure to use.
NordPass is basically still in its infancy, having just launched in late 2019.
They’ve got just enough features to be called a premium password manager, but that’s about it. They’ve got the basics covered, but you shouldn’t expect too much from them.
Security is the one thing password managers cannot scrimp on. If they do, they’ll lose public confidence and they won’t be able to compete with the leaders in the industry.
1Password and NordPass both made sure their systems are secured with the best security measures the world has to offer, so you can rest assured that your data is safe with them.
If I had to pick one, I’d say 1Password has better security.
The use of their device-specific secret key adds an additional layer of security to the system, and also boosts our confidence in their software.
1Password VS Dashlane
Dashlane is one of our most favourite password managers out of the many we’ve tried. It’s only fair to see how 1Password fares against one of the best in the industry.
In regards to value, both password managers provide it in different ways.
Dashlane is by no means cheap, but they furnish users with better features, more functional UI… they’re basically better in every way, and some people might see that as great value.
1Password brings value in terms of pricing, especially with their family plan.
They may not offer as much as Dashlane and it may not feel as sleek, but the family plan will only cost $1 per person, provided you manage to find 4 other people to share the account with you.
In short, they both provide value – it just depends on what you’re looking for.
A software is only as good as its UI, because if no one knows how to use the program, it’s as good as useless, regardless of how awesome it actually is.
Dashlane wipes the floor with 1Password in this category, with their excellent UI.
It’s clean, modern, and feels completely natural to use.
It makes 1Password’s UI feel like it was designed by an amateur boomer.
Point goes to Dashlane.
Both password managers do the basics very well.
Dashlane has more features unique to them, like an automatic password changer, a free VPN, and an identity dashboard.
1Password’s only unique features are the Watchtower and account sharing (families plan only) but we feel that their basic features are more robust.
If I had to pick one, I’d say Dashlane gets the point.
Being the oldest in the game does have some benefits, and 1Password sure took advantage of their experience.
Both password managers have excellent security, but 1Password takes it a step further with their device-specific secret key.
It’s a great way to stop people from hacking into our vaults, and it definitely inspires confidence in the system.
1Password wins this round.
Verdict: Should You Go For 1Password?
1Password is one of the hardest password managers we’ve had to pass judgement on, because it’s actually really really good.
It has a great track record, completely reliable, it’s never been hacked before, and it has the best security measures we’ve seen so far on a password manager.
Setting up was so easy and using it was really quite effortless.
Key features like 2FA, Watchtower, plentiful categories and unlimited device syncing were some of the few things we really welcomed into our lives and now find it really hard to live without.
It’s just that with everything they’ve got right, they’ll get that one teeny tiny thing wrong.
Take, for example, the Watchtower. It works great to tell me that I have password vulnerabilities, but offers no solution to fix them easily.
We’re able to share secure notes, passwords and whatever we want… but only to people already on the platform. There is no way to invite people on the platform easily either. The worst part of it all, is that there is no free plan for friends to use, so we can’t securely share those details with them.
The browser extension’s autofill also works a little less efficiently compared to the competition – taking 3 steps to auto-populate forms compared to a single click from the competition. UI is a little dated but still effective enough to use.
To wrap it all up, 1Password is one kickass password manager with a few kinks in their system. One of their strongest perks would be their price. The Family plan only costs $4.99 a month (billed annually), and you’re able to share it with 4 other users, which means it’ll only end up costing you $1 a month per user.
If you’re looking for a password manager that works and gives you great value, 1Password is the one you should go for. If you’re looking for the BEST password manager, you might want to check out our best password manager 2020 list instead.