In this review, we will go in to some detail about the KeePass password safe. KeePass is a cross-platform, open source, free password manager that was created in 2003. As far as password managers go, KeePass does not have the polished feel that some of it’s competitors have. That is because it is open source, and free to use. It is, however, quite powerful and efficient in the way that it operates. If your goal is to alleviate password fatigue, and you are a bit tech savvy, KeePass will do what you want it to do. If you’re looking for something easy to use with cloud backup then KeePass isn’t the right choice. There’s something to be said about keeping your data local though. Plenty of password manager’s have seen their cloud services breached.
KeePass is Open Source (Free)
As we mentioned, the KeePass is open source, so the software is free to use. There are no trials to offer, because you get full functionality from the beginning. The same can be said for customer support. There is no customer support to speak of, but there is a fairly lively community of users to answer questions and share tips on using KeePass to its fullest. By all means, feel free to download the program and start using it. Keep in mind though, there will be some setup required.
KeePass password manager will simplify things in your life by securely storing your passwords using AES-256 bit encryption. If you want to integrate your activity with a browser so it becomes similar to other programs, desktop versions use two items: the stand-alone safe, and a browser extension. Those, of course, are dependent on what operating system you use, and what browser you use. If you have used other password keepers, KeePass has an import feature that will bring password information over from the top 30 password products.
As we mentioned, KeePass takes a bit of knowledge. Once you download the software, go ahead and create a master password, and get in to the safe. You will want to install the browser extension for whatever browser you wish to use. For the Firefox browser, we suggest using KeeFox. Because of it’s nature, options for other types of browser extensions are numerous. The program also has extensions for Chrome, IE, Safari, Opera, and more. Since its an open source project anyone can build off the code to create add-ons to extend the functionality of KeePass.
With their manager, you can change the icons of any new entries to help you better coordinate your passwords. That is a very nice function because it will help you organize where things are, and you may also add individual notes that are not related to websites. You may also create separate groups for any payment info. That is just perfect for keeping track of important dates or Wi-Fi passwords, etc.
KeePass Auto Fill
One of the most popular features of any password keeper, is a way of having your information auto filled in. There is no actual functionality for an auto fill feature, however, there are browser extensions that may be used for that as well that will pull the information and fill it in specifically. All you have to do is go get add-ons by clicking on the the three horizontal bars in the top right hand corner of the browser (most browsers anyway). Once there, type in KeePass and all available add-ons will show up. Simply look for one that mentions an auto fill feature. For stored passwords that just show up as blank, right-click and select match login. The saved password will show up.
This is actually one of my favorite features of KeePass password manager. The password generator is fully functional, and highly customizable. We all know we should have strong passwords for sites, and they should be unique, so if it gets cracked, other information is not vulnerable. This generator will do all of that. If the website you are using is particular, you can customize the password to match whatever criteria you need. For example, some websites do not allow you to use special characters in passwords. Whenever possible I would suggest using an alternative site that takes security more seriously.
As you can see the KeePass password generator will let you customize the character set used to create a password. You can tell the software whether or not to include upper case letters, lower case letters, digits, minus, underline, space, special characters, brackets, and high ANSI characters in your password. You can also set a specific pattern or even use a custom algorithm to generate passwords.
KeePass features great security. This is one of the most important features of the program. Unless you were to use a different external encryption method, the only one there is perfect. As you see, that is the AES-256 bit Key. AES-256 is the international standard for encryption, and has been since 2002. The second arrow involves the number of transformations (or salts), and may be changed. To be secure, it should be set to at least 10k, but you may set it for as many as you like. There are also plugins available that will grant you two factor authentication, and the standard things you would expect from the more commercial products. I suggest using multi factor authentication whenever possible, regardless of the website or product you are using. Anytime a password is involved it helps to have an additional factor of authentication.
KeePass is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux desktop operating systems. It is also available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone. Another interesting feature is that Keepass may be downloaded to a flash drive and kept in a portable fashion, with all information staying on the device. I suggest using a flash drive whenever possible. First of all you can take KeePass with you and use it on any system. It also keeps the information on the flash drive which means none of your data stays on the system after you pull the drive out of the machine. The browser integration options are Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. There may be others included, so be sure to look for specifics if you use a browser that is not one of the mentioned ones.
KeePass Review: Conclusion
We liked KeePass quite a bit for various reasons. Our kudos go out to the developers for creating such a powerful and comprehensive product and keeping it open source. Though it is designed for people that have some technical know how, once you understand how it works, it is fairly easy to use. The key is getting it set up the way you want to use it. It is clear that the developers of KeePass are trying to solve problems that we all face in modern society and doing a great job at it.
What we liked most about the software:
- No centralized database, and your master password can not be recovered
- AES-256 encryption with salts that can be customized.
- Custom software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
- Mobile apps for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone
- Two-factor authentication using a variety of plugins
- Superb password generator that will not only generate a single password, but give you a list of other passwords that would meet your criteria as well.
Ideas to improve the software:
- Make it easier to set up for those with less technical knowledge
- Encourage cloud app development for cloud backup and syncing
I do not really have any negative comments about KeePass. The software is designed to be powerful and functional instead of pretty. Though it is a bit rough around the edges at times, KeePass it is a great free product. There is an adage that says if a product is free, you are the product. That does not apply with KeePass and many other great open source solutions.