For the last 8 years, I became a fanatical user of 1Password. I bought their v5 back in 2014 for more than 50 bucks. I was just starting my career and 50 bucks was a lot of money for me for a piece of software! I took the hit, migrated away from LastPass, and never looked back.
They brought it in the subscription model while I was content with the standalone version setup with iCloud sync. Everything was good, until a few months ago when they said v8 won't be available as a standalone version anymore.
I know they are just running their business, I should not probably demand something for free or things that don't go with their business model. Same reason I never publicly talked about Google discontinuing their free Google Workspace service. Being a consumer, I can look for an alternative, and that I did.
In May 2022, I was looking for an alternative. My friends suggested Bitwarden, they were all using the free version. I gave it a spin. Coming from 1Password, I didn't really like the UX. I decided to stomach that as most of my interaction with a password manager is via autofill anyway. I exported my dataset from 1P and imported it into Bitwarden. I noticed I'm missing the attachments. Digging further, I found it's a pro feature. I was kind of ready to pay $10/year compared to a whopping $36/year for 1P. Even with that, I needed to import the file attachments manually. I couldn't make the decision straightforward anymore and it actually didn't sit right with me!
In the meantime, 1Password offered me 50% off for the Family pack for 3 years. I upgraded from the prompt, but for some reason skipped adding a payment card to the account. After 14 days, the trial was over. I mentally prepared myself to eat the bullet. I started to procrastinate as with everything else in my life when to add the card and reactivate the account. I was without a password manager for the last few months and made it work with some basic made-up encryption. 🤐
Fast forward 5 months, October 2022 I decided to step over my procrastinated ass and sort this out. Just before I was about to Lon into my 1P account, out of curiosity I did one last google for alternatives! Only then I discovered 2 nice-looking apps, Secrets and Strongbox. Both apps use the old approach of 1Password, of managing your own data. They would provide the software for a one-time cost. I don't know why they didn't catch my eyes previously! Comparing prices, I downloaded Secrets first, especially seeing on App Store they have a promo right now for €13.99 for the Premium.
Immediately exported 1P again and imported everything into Secrets. Hit the was when they didn't allow me to import more than 10 items of the free version. I was looking for the €13.99 option, but all I found was €19.99. Upgraded anyway, and ran the import again. Voila, all my data was imported correctly, including attachments. Enabled iCloud sync and installed the mobile app. I can see everything on the mobile app too! 😍
Drove Secrets for a day, and all was great. I did some password reset and updated some of the accounts. The app looked nice and everything. iOS App was very nice looking and with great UX. Just one thing I couldn't (or did not want to) get used to their Auto Fill UX on desktop. I thought something is wrong with my setup, you know all those Privacy settings on Mac. Then I confirmed it with a video on their website (missed it at first glimpse) and I really didn't like it! 😒
I downloaded Strongbox and outright bought the lifetime option for €79.99. Imported the 1P export again and did the password resets all over again. After a few attempts, I got the auto-fill working (this time I already did my homework first) on Mac correctly. On iOS Strongbox app prompts if something is not set up correctly, that's nice. Used it for the last 2 days. The mobile app looks and behaves nicer than the Desktop counterpart. But till now most of the interactions working great on both platforms. I think I'm gonna stick with it for now.
Pros of Strongbox for me
- NO Subscription!
- Database is saved in good old KeePassX format. NO lock-in.
- Supports Family sharing of the App from a single purchase (sweet).
- It's possible to manage a shared Database/Vault.
- Common database format opens the path to migrate to another app if necessary.
Cons, but not deal breakers
- Only Mac and iOS App (same for Secrets as well, but there are workarounds credit to common format)
- No 1Password Mini-like feature, UX department lacks some niceties!
I still like 1Password very much, referring back to the word in the opening sentence fanatical user. I just didn't want a solution for a problem that didn't exist!
Thank you 1Password for upping my expectation for such a daily driver tool, I'll miss
cmd+opt+\. Welcome Strongbox to the toolbox!