… and then came back
As a longtime user of 1Password I was like so many others disappointed when they released their v8 Beta in 2021. Slow, filled with bugs and chewed up memory like a hungry and mad alligator. Since my subscription was about to end, it was a good time for me to move on to something else.
In August 2021 AgileBits announced the new beta-version of 1Password for MacOS. A version that quickly got a lot of criticism from users. The main issue was that they moved away from a native MacOS app to an app based on among other technologies Electron.
I am not going to write about Electron in this article, if you want to learn about it you can read more here. Myself I am no tech genius so I don’t have any thought on what solution any developer uses, as long as I find the app suits my needs. However the early beta was slow, looked strange and took up a severe amount of RAM. Since my subscription was due to be renewed I started to look for an alternative. Some of the competition I chose to disregard due to the fact they too used an Electron based solution. Others I dropped since they only synced with iCloud. Which is OK if you don’t have to share passwords with someone else, but since I share passwords with my wife and we have our own iCloud accounts I was looking for something else.
I only use Mac and iOS/iPadOS, so I have no need for an app that can cross-sync with Windows or Android. That made a lot of apps disappear from my list of apps to test, so in the end it boiled down to two options: Bitwarden and mSecure, where Bitwarden is a free open source solution and mSecure was a buy once commercial app up to v5. The newly released v6 however is subscription based.
I finally ended up with mSecure and was rather happy with that choice. It was much easier to import from 1Password to mSecure than to Bitwarden. To me with the limited demands on bells and whistles I have, it suited my needs. And just as 1Password, mSecure has its own cloud for syncing. No need for iCloud or Dropbox. (But if you WANT to use either of those instead of mSecure cloud, you can).
However, after a while I noticed that even if mSecure is a good alternative technically to 1Password, there are some things that made me reconsider my choice. First: when they released their new version 6 they moved to being subscription based. Ok, those who have purchased v 5 as a buy once app will get the ”essential” version of v6, but if you want the new functions you have to pay a subscription. Also you will not be able to use version 5 — the one you bought — when version 6 is released since the new databases won’t work in older versions. And mSecure updates the old version to v 6 wether you want to or not.
Version 6 was finally released March 2022, but it had been announced since autumn 2021 that it will be released ”in a week”, or ”in a few days”. If you search the Internet you find that it was announced as early as 2020 that it was soon to be released. To me this very long delay signals that the company does not have enough staff employed to guarantee future development of the app. I don’t think the risk is big that they will be out of business though, they have been around for many years. The release of version 6 however gave their support big problems. As they write on their website:
With the release of mSecure v6, we have received an overwhelming number of support requests and with our small support staff, it would take weeks to respond to each individual question or concern.
If I am to pay a monthly or yearly subscription for an app, I want to feel safe that there will be development and support of the app in accordance with my subscription fee.
This leads me to my other issue: the sub-par support. mSecure has a ticket system, but you really don’t know when you get an answer. I even got told by themselves that I would get faster answers if I posted in their support forum. There is no email support, no phone, and their latest tweet is from 2017 (as of today 5th May 2022). The last tweet from a follower that they answered is from summer 2021. So it does not seem to be a channel for contacting the support either.
So since the version 6 of mSecure kept being delayed and the support had a lot more to ask for, I went back to 1Password and chose to go all in for version 8 even if was still officially is a beta version. However, since then version 8 has moved out of beta state and is now the official version. Until recently version 7 was the official version and it will probably be maintained even now after v8 is released, but as I see it version 8 is stable enough to actually be my main password manager app. At least for me. I have used it since the beta versions, and it has worked. There has not been any significant memory issues, and it does not feel slow either. Nice new functions, the Watchtower has had an overhaul and so on.
As for the future iOS version it will according to 1Password support be developed using Swift, which is built by Apple for iOS and other platforms. There is a beta of v 8 for iOS, but with limited testers allowed. So for now I am on the latest version of 7.9.x.
The good thing about 1Password is that the company behind it has a sound economy as I understand, have enough staff employed to be able to deliver constant upgrades to subscribers and have a really good support. They are active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit aswell. Which means that you have a good chance to get help rather fast.
So what do I think? Is 1Password ”best in class”? Well, to be honest there is probably no ”best” since every user have their own demands from a service. But I do dare to say that regardless what app you choose, a good, stable and secure password manager is an important part of your digital workflow. It saves me time, time I can use to be productive.
mSecure is in fact a rather good app, but the many delays of the new version, and the sub-par support does not make me feel comfortable to pay a subscription fee. And I really can’t recommend it instead of 1Password. So as for me, I am back using 1Password, use v8 as main app, and I see no reason to leave for any other solution.
As I mentioned I am not very good at the tech part of apps-what is behind the UI and what isn’t. I am stupid when it comes to coding and stuff. I just want an app that works. So if you want to nerd down on the tech stuff, here are some links:
Read more about mSecure here.
The official website of 1Password you find here.