Online vs. Offline Password Managers

There are two different kinds of password managers available: Online and Offline. Below you’ll find an overview of the Pros and Cons.

Offline Password Managers

These are desktop applications that you download and install on your computer (browser plug-ins would also fall into this category). The primary problem with offline password managers is that they are not available anywhere outside your computer (or your browser). The desktop applications are often light-weight and many people choose to solve the portability problem by keeping a copy of the software and data file on a USB drive that they carry with them – this is not possible for browser plug-ins.

Pros:

  • Your data never has to leave your computer
  • Your data may be kept on a USB drive (if you have one) for portability

Cons:

  • Not available outside your computer (unless you use a USB drive)
  • When using the USB drive, syncing issues arise
  • The USB drive may get lost, stolen or dropped in a puddle
  • You may not always be able to insert your USB drive on public computers or mobile devices

Products:
There is an abundance of this type of application.

ONLINE Password Managers

There is nothing to download or to install, no syncing necessary. By nature, online password managers solve the portability issues associated with the desktop applications. Needless to say, being available over the Internet, extensive security measures need to be in place. The first (successful) service in this field was/is Agatra.com. However, a new wave of online password managers has added another layer of security to the Agatra model which is known as Host-Proof Hosting.

In a nutshell, that means that your data is encrypted on the server in a way that not even the Host (ex. PassPack) can read it, break it, crack it or do anything other than just delete it.

Pros:

  • Your data is available wherever there is an Internet connection (including mobile devices)
  • No need for USB drives or any software installation
  • With Host-Proof Hosting, the key to your data is never sent over the Internet

Cons:

Products:
Here is a frequently updated list of Online Password Managers that employ Host-Proof Hosting (that is an outside link – often their server is slow, sorry).

About PassPack

PassPack is an online password manager and 1 Click Login for people who travel or change computers often. Unlike offline password managers, PassPack is available 24/7 via internet, nothing to download or install.

Think of PassPack as a password manager, automatic login and personal vault all in one. With PassPack you can quickly login to websites, as well as organize and store logins and private notes. Save up to 100 entries for free!


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14 responses to “Online vs. Offline Password Managers

  1. So far I’m impressed. Do you have guarantees in place regarding longevity. Ie: what happens if Passpack decides to shut down?

    Thanks!

  2. Glad to hear it! Let me try and answer your question.

    The upcoming Beta 4 release of PassPack will allow for data export. You will have the option to export your data in a format that can be imported into other programs (should you want to change to a different service) or back into PassPack (as a sort of offline backup). That functionality would also be helpful in a hypothetical “shut down”.

    We are definitely in this for the long haul – no plans of shutting down anytime soon. But let’s assume a worst case scenario wherein we are no longer able to sustain PassPack: we’d disallow the creation of new accounts while giving current users the time they’d to export their data and choose a new service.

  3. When is the Beta 4 release expected?

  4. Soon. During the month of February.

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  6. **Just an update for latecomers**
    The PassPack Beta 4 release is now fully online and working. Go to https://www.passpack.com to sign up.

    The next step for PassPack is the upcoming Auto-login tool that will let you automatically log in to websites directly from your PassPack account. More info here:
    https://passpack.wordpress.com/2007/03/22/passpack-auto-login-no-plugin-needed/

  7. How long do you expect your product to be free (IOW, when will it come out of beta)?

    Once you charge (and you should) can we expect a reasonable price?

    I only use public wifi about 20 times a year, but I pay $100 a year for a VPN solution (HotSpotVPN). On one hand, it seems like a lot of $$$, but when one considers the ramifications of sniffed packets it suddenly seems like a bargain. Anyone who thinks that coffee shops, etc, aren’t sniffed out are fooling themselves. One of the guys I hang out with occasionally does it just because he can. Fortunately he is a very honest person (a christian youth pastor) and so he doesn’t snoop through the data, but he’s intrigued by the insecurity of it all. He’ll also get into people’s computers and leave a note on their desktop telling them that their machine was hacked and then telling them what they need to do to secure their machine. (I’ve watched him do this)

    I can only imagine the panic they feel when they finally notice the text file.

    Okay, enough rambling. Thanks for answering my question above.

    Jase.

  8. @Jase,
    There will always be a free account.

    After we come out of Beta, we will also offer (optional) paid upgrades that will add more storage space and more features. We want to keep pricing as low as possible – a few dollars a month.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences in public hot spots. That is useful for everyone to read.

    Cheers,
    Tara

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  11. I wish I could have a master account put all those password there for my employees to use, to enter sites related to company but in a way that they could not unscramble the password and see it.

  12. @tom,
    This isn’t exactly what you asked for, but I think it’ll interest you if you haven’t seen it yet:

    Administer and Share Passwords Between Accounts

    That’s an upcoming feature. Let me know what you think.
    Cheers,
    Tara

  13. The offline version makes this the (almost) complete password solution. The only thing missing now is size. While 100 entries is adequate for my daily surfing requirements, I would need substantially more before I could contemplate switching completely to PassPack. I’d also want the ability to have some entries offline only. And of course robust security guarantees for the syncing process.

  14. @zerode
    Well, glad we’re *almost* there. :)

    On saving more passwords, some online, some offline — you can do this with Passpack Desktop.

    3 Ways to use Passpack Desktop

    Hope that helps. We’ll keep working on syncing and making it two way.

    Cheers!

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