Software Review: RoboForm – Password Manager for the Busy, the Lazy or Both

If you’re like me, you’ve got 15 different passwords for 15 different online services. There are online banking passwords, website hosting passwords, online store passwords, server and e-mail passwords. Everything is online.

What’s worse, you might not be like me, and you might have one or two passwords for all of your online services. Shame on you!

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Honestly, we all do it to some degree: Left to our own devices, we’ll rotate between several passwords that we re-use between sites. This is a big problem, especially if you share your e-mail password across sites, because it leaves all of your accounts vulnerable to a single breach in any one of them. And believe me, not all services have great security policies. Or perfect personnel and hiring policies. Breaches happen.

Having long, (“128-bit”) random passwords is the way to go. But, done correctly, they’re almost impossible to remember. And they’re hard to make up. That’s why we end up using the same passwords over and over.

So, what’s the solution? A good password manager is the solution. A good password manager does the following:

  • Creates long, diverse, random passwords including capitals, numbers and symbols. It strength tests them to ensure they are good before giving them to you.
  • It allows you to store those passwords with the associated location of the service (a web address usually) and add any notes or comments.
  • It gives you quick access to all of your passwords behind a single, strong password that you do have to remember, while you don’t have to remember any of the others.
  • It stores those passwords in an encrypted format on your local PC or laptop so that even if someone has access to the computer, they don’t have all of your passwords.

The really great password managers go one step further, and this is where our candidate program today stands out:

  • They actually integrate directly into your web browser so that they are aware of when you are typing passwords, knows how to fill out your passwords automatically, and provides real, meaningful automation and time-savings to your life.

RoboForm Does It All

RoboForm does all of that and more. RoboForm, once downloaded, starts when your computer starts. (We normally don’t like that, but for a password manager, it is essential.) It embeds a toolbar into your web browser. (We also normally don’t like that, but again, for this function it is essential.)

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You can log into it at any time, or it will prompt you to log into it the first time is sees you browse to a site for which it keeps passwords – or even a new site on which you appear to be filling out a password. It constantly monitors your form filling online. If it sees you submitting a new password, it asks if it can capture and remember the password for you.

Used correctly, you would ask RoboForm to actually create the strong password for you as you create a new account.

RoboForm can also keep your credit card information, typical name and address info and fill it for you automatically when you come to an e-commerce form.

Strengths and Weaknesses

I’ve tried several of these programs. Prior to purchasing RoboForm, I used a free program called KeePass. It was great, as far as it went. It kept web addresses, passwords and notes. You could ask it to open a page, then go back to it and ask it to fill in the user ID and password for the site. However, what it did in 5 or 6 clicks, RoboForm does with either no clicks or 1 click. And I happily paid $30 for the added convenience.

When you’re logged into 3 or 4 online systems at any time, like I am, saving several clicks in the log-on process can make a difference in the amount of work you get done in a day, and that means money. Moreover, just the act of looking up sites and passwords slows me down.

When I go online and want to get work done, I just want to get it done. I don’t want to think about which password or site I’m searching for, which I had to do with KeePass. With RoboForm, I just go to the RoboForm toolbar in the browser, click on a drop down menu to get to the site I want, and it does the rest. KeePass had some third-party add-ins that were supposed to do this, but I never got them to work reliably.

Some weaknesses? RoboForm is aggressive about capturing passwords. It will sometimes try to capture passwords for sites it has previously captured if I log in from a slightly different URL. (For example, on Google’s services, you can log into the same account from multiple services – Analytics, AdWords, AdSense.) You have to watch for this, or you’ll end up with multiple entries. That isn’t really a problem for RoboForm, but it can be a bit confusing for the human involved.

RoboForm, like any on-line automated form filler, isn’t perfect. It will sometimes miss a field, especially on more complex forms if there’s odd formatting or a slow download, or javascript error. But you’ll find that with any automated form filler.

And, of course, RoboForm isn’t free. I continued using the free KeePass product for a long time, after having tried RoboForm a couple of years ago and not really getting it to work reliably with my browser. No longer. RoboForm works 99% of the time perfectly for me and it is worth every penny.

It does include a free 30-day trial period, so you can try it out like I did and then purchase a license key at the end of your trial period, if you like it.

One caveat: When you buy RoboForm using their online e-commerce form, it automatically adds a physical CD copy to your order as well. This adds $5 to your order. If you don’t want the physical CD, unclick this box. (Some people have complained about this marketing tactic. It is a little annoying.)

Summary

RoboForm is the industry standard, and it is a great tool. If, in your entrepreneurial life, you spend some amount of time online each day, get it.

Need help with your business? Contact JumpPhase.com

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This blog is dedicated to providing advice, tools and encouragement from one entrepreneur to another. I want to keep this practical and accessible for the new entrepreneur while also providing enough sophistication and depth to prove useful to the successful serial entrepreneur. My target rests somewhere between the garage and the board room, where the work gets done and the hockey stick emerges.

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