If you’re looking for an open-sourced password manager, you should probably check out KeePass. It’s a password manager that’s definitely for a more tech-savvy person who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty, and the best part? It’s completely free.
In this review, I’ll go over the pros and cons of KeePass, its features, app, and customer support. As it’s open-sourced and free, there’s no company background or subscriptions to speak of, making this review short and sweet. Let’s get started!
Pros and Cons of KeePass
Before I begin, let me give you a basic overview of the best and worst things about KeePass.
- Free: KeePass is completely free for an unlimited amount of time.
- Customizable: Feel free to update your KeePass with dozens of different plug-ins and extensions.
- Open-sourced: As KeePass is made from a large online community rather than a company, you’ll be in more control of your data than with a traditional password manager.
- Not user-friendly: KeePass is designed for utility, not ease of use.
- No security breach alerts: KeePass merely stores your passwords, but it doesn’t do anything else to protect your credentials online.
- No form fill-in: Unlike traditional password managers, KeePass won’t automatically fill in forms for you.
Features of KeePass
KeePass allows you to store an unlimited amount of passwords on as many devices you want, and you can sync across all the devices, depending on what app you use.
The easiest way to put in your passwords is to export them into a CSV file from your browser. I only saw one plugin that allowed you to import passwords from a browser directly, and that was for Firefox. If you don’t choose either of these options, you’ll have to type in each password manually, which could be a bit tedious.
One all of your passwords are in, KeePass will tell you which ones are weak, repeated, or old. It can offer replacements from the password generator that will be a lot harder to figure out than what you’d come up with (no offense!).
All of your passwords, and any other information you store in the vault, will be encrypted through AES-256, the industry standard. KeePass also utilizes Twofish, the second-place encryption algorithm to AES, and SHA, which stands for Secure Hashing Algorithm.
Hashing turns your actual text into an inscrutable code so that no one will be able to figure it out. For added security, you can add two or even multi-factor authentication, depending on which app you use. You can even add multiple users to your account if you want to securely share a password.
Unfortunately, the disadvantages of being open-sourced are pretty vast. KeePass will not automatically log you in. Instead, you’ll have to press CTRL-ALT-A, which is a bit of a hassle. There are no security breach alerts, so you won’t know if your information has been compromised anywhere on the regular Internet or the dark web. Plus, there’s no emergency contact, so if you forget your master password, your account is locked forever.
You’ll provide any local and cloud storage you want to use, like a USB drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
Is KeePass Easy to Use?
I’ll be frank: because KeePass is open-sourced and not created by a company with web designers, graphic designers, and user experience designers, the website and the apps are both very hard to understand. While I consider myself to be pretty tech-savvy, you really have to have a background in I.T or computer science to fully understand KeePass and its capabilities.
KeePass only works on Windows computers, but there are a bunch of “Contributed/ Unofficial” KeePass Ports like MacPass for Mac OS X, KeePassBB for Blackberry, or KeePassX for Linux or Mac OS X. Once you download your respective app, you’ll be responsible for adding imports, plugins, and extensions to customize your experience.
As you can see, the KeePass website is right out of a 90s movie, so it’s pretty hard on the eyes. Overall, KeePass is really hard to use and I would only recommend it if you’re super tech-savvy.
KeePass Customer Support
Another disadvantage of being open-sourced? If you need help, you’re on your own. KeePass’ customer support is only an online help center with user forums and FAQ’s, and it’s not super helpful. Basically, KeePass’ customer support is a lot like Reddit. While some of the information may be true, it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for and once you do, you have know real way of knowing if its outdated or just plain wrong. Unfortunately, there’s no one to email, live chat, or call, another reason why I would only recommend KeePass to the most confident and experienced password manager-user.
The KeePass App
There are a bunch of different apps that allow you to use KeePass, but I’m going to be looking at KeePassDroid on the Google Play store and SyncPass on the Apple store. KeePass also has apps for Windows, MacOS, Chromebook, Blackberry, and Linux, plus browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Maxthon.
I picked these two apps in particular due to their high ratings, a 4.6 for KeePassDroid and a 3.7 for SyncPass. Again, a huge disadvantage of being open-sourced is that you’re going to get apps created by random users. Even though 4.6 has a high rating, I can see many users complain that features aren’t working with Android updates. Still, compared to the other options out there, these apps seem to work the best.
KeePass vs. LastPass
KeePass couldn’t be more different than LastPass, one of the most popular password managers out there. Unlike KeePass, LastPass is not open-sourced. Rather, it’s a product of the company LogMeIn, based in Boston, Massachusetts. As the United States is a member of the international surveillance alliances Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, LogMeIn could be forced to hand over customer data, under certain circumstances. So if privacy is your biggest concern, I’d go with KeePass.
For the rest of us, LastPass beats KeePass any day. Not only do they offer a free trial, but the app is also much easier to use with way more features. In contrast to KeePass, LastPass offers security breach alerts, auto-login, form fill-in, and an emergency contact to let you in if you forget your master password. They also offer dark web scans through PasswordPing and credit monitoring for U.S users. Plus, their apps for iPhone and Androids have better ratings. Unfortunately, neither LastPass nor KeePass has a great customer support system, lacking in live chat, email, online forms, and phone lines.
Overall, I’d definitely choose LastPass over KeePass, even though the free plan only applies to one device and lasts for 30 days. With an individual plan costing three dollars a month and a family plan for up to six users costing only four dollars a month, these prices won’t exactly break the bank. The only reason someone would go with KeePass over LastPass is because of that pesky privacy jurisdiction, but keep in mind that your vaults will be encrypted with both managers.
Recap of KeePass
Overall, I’d only recommend KeePass to an incredibly tech-savvy, privacy-oriented person who absolutely doesn’t want to spend a dime on a password manager. For everyone else, I can’t recommend KeePass.
You should get KeePass if you’d like…
- Free: You can’t really beat free, and if you have the tech acumen, KeePass could be worth it.
- Control of data: You’ll be in total control of your data, as KeePass is open-sourced.
But avoid it because of…
- Not user-friendly: I’d only recommend KeePass to those with a background in I.T or computer science.
- No auto-login: You’ll need to use a keyword shortcut to log into your accounts, rather than a click.
- No security breach alerts: KeePass will merely store your passwords, and will not check for them online.
Be sure to check out the best password managers of 2019 to explore other options!