LastPass is a password manager that helps individuals and families manage their online passwords. It works via a browser plugin and apps for Androids and iPhones and is routinely rated as one of the top password managers available today. But does LastPass stand up to our scrutiny?
In this LastPass review, we dive deep into all things passwords, online security, encryption, and more to help you determine if you need a password manager, whether or not LastPass is all it claims to be, and if it’s something that will make your life better. Let’s get started!
Why Do You Need A Password Manager?
Password managers like LastPass serve lots of different needs. The most basic need is helping us remember our passwords. The average person has to remember tons of password and login combination for everything from email to music players to bank accounts to shopping accounts, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What makes things especially complicated is that to be safe online, each password should be unique, and a random combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Most of us are doing good to remember a few ultra-simple passwords; remembering forty or more random symbols and letters and numbers per account are simply asking way too much!
The Problem With Safe Passwords
Of course, you can save your passwords manually or on your computer, but what if your computer gets hacked or stolen or somebody inadvertently discovers your written-down password? A realized password can allow somebody to clear out your bank account, charge your credit cards, and a whole lot more.
In short, passwords are vital to your security and online safety, but keeping track of them is extremely difficult. That’s where password managers like LastPass come in. Each manager has a different set of features (we’ll walk you through what kind of features to look for in the next section), but they’re all specifically designed to not only help you remember and organize your passwords but help you develop passwords that protect your online identity.
How Should You Choose A Password Manager?
Before we dive into LastPass features, let’s take a quick walk-through of the different kinds of jobs password managers perform.
Open Or Proprietary?
Password managers are other open source or proprietary. Open source software is made public. They can be contributed to online and are generally preferred by individuals who are highly tech-savvy because they can spot weakness and potential problems themselves.
However, if you’re not savvy enough to be able to spot these, open source does little to help you. Proprietary software, on the other hand, is completely private and developed by the owning company internally. This can be a good thing or a bad thing--but you won’t know until after there’s a data breach or a hack.
For proprietary software, the best thing is to evaluate the company’s progress over some time. A large number of hacks that have taken the company a great deal of time to address are significant red flags.
How Is The Data Store And Synced?
One of the things you need to consider is how and when is your password data encrypted and where is it stored? We’ll talk more about LastPass handles these security issues in the next section, but you need to carefully consider whether or not your potential password manager is in step with the most up to date security protocols.
Paid Or Unpaid?
You also need to consider the cost of your password manager and whether it syncs to your existing manager and how easy it is (or isn’t) to use. Does it have apps? Is it easy to use on all your devices? Is it a one-time fee or a monthly fee or is it free?
Now that you have an idea of what matters to you in your search for a password manager let’s take a closer look at LastPass.
What Features Set LastPass Apart?
LastPass is a freemium password manager, which means it offers some basic services for free and charges for upgrades. Currently, LastPass has two pricing models available: an individual model that costs about $3 per month and a family model that costs about $4 a month. Both of these plans are extremely inexpensive, but are they worth it?
Here’s How LastPass Works
When you join LastPass (make sure you take advantage of the free month trial, if it’s still available), the first thing you’ll do is create an online account and download your web browser extension.
LastPass works on all major browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Explorer, and Firefox, and it has an Android app and an iOS app that sync. Once you’ve downloaded your web extension on all your browsers, you’ll create a master password. This is the single and only password you’ll need to remember once you’ve started using LastPass.
Next, you’ll import your passwords. You can do this manually, or you can sync your current password manager using one of LastPass’s many different import options. You can also visit your favorite websites and sign on one at a time. When you do this, LastPass will give you the option to save your password using the manager.
You can then update your password, creating a much more complicated and safe password for each login. LastPass gives you the option to make your password easy to read or say or to make it as complicated as possible.
This enables you to, say, share a Netflix password with somebody else or sign in to your account on a device that doesn’t belong to you (a highly complicated password would be too difficult to remember for most of us!).
In addition to saving and upgrading your account passwords, you can also save your bank, password, and credit card information for easy, secure online shopping and bill pay. Also, you can create emergency contacts who can access your accounts in the event of an emergency. Finally, LastPass gives you the option to print your master password and safe in a safe or security deposit box.
How Safe Is LastPass?
One of the first things people want to know in any LastPass review is: how safe is LastPass? You’ll be glad to hear that LastPass has had less than a handful of data breaches--not extremely serious--in the last decade or so it’s been around.
Plus, it utilizes the extremely secure “AES-256 bit encryption with PBKDF2 SHA-256 and salted hashes to ensure complete security in the cloud.”
LastPass encrypts your information before it leaves your computer; everything is stored on the cloud so that it’s not available to LastPass employees. You can also set up two-factor authentication for added security.
What Are The Pros To Using LastPass?
There are a lot of great reasons to use LastPass, not the least because of how dynamic and vibrant its features are. In addition to all the information we’ve already mentioned being able to store in LastPass (including passwords and credit card info), you can also save security notes (including PDFs) as well as membership card info.
Ultimately, LastPass means having a digital wallet and a password manager all rolled into one--one that helps you manage your life, no less.
LastPass also allows you to save your passwords across almost every single device you could hope to have, including your iPhone, your Windows laptop, and your Android tablet. Plus, if you have a family, you can do the same with their devices, as well, without having to find weird go-arounds to accommodate different operating systems.
Finally, LastPass is generally easy to use. It’s deep and complex, with a variety of features such as allowing you to share a folder of passwords with a specific family member, for example. Our digital lives today are complex, and the ability to manage them all with one simple piece of software is a godsend for many.
What Are The Cons To Using LastPass?
As with many features, sometimes a pro can become a con. Such is the case with LastPass. While many will love the password manager’s all-encompassing features, some people won’t. Some people will be frustrated by all the extras.
Still, others will be displeased by LastPass’s proprietary software and would prefer open source software.
How Does LastPass Compare To The Competition?
Another very popular choice for a password manager is 1Password. 1Password costs a dollar more per month for a family account (same price for an individual account) and performs very similar jobs to LastPass--you have a single master password that gets you into all your accounts.
While in the past it failed to support Windows and Chrome OS devices, it does so now, making 1Password a strong rival when it comes to who should have your business.
1Password, like LastPass, uses device encryption so that your info is encrypted before it leaves your computer, phone, or tablet and it utilizes that same AES-256 and a 128-bit identifier that LastPass does. In short, it comes down to which interface you prefer using, and whether or not you want to save the extra dollar a month on the family plan.
In short, in this LastPass review, we feel that 1Password is the strongest competitor to LastPass. While there are other password managers, these two are far and away the most secure.
The other important thing to realize is that thanks to the fact that we’re living in an age where there’s increased risk from hackers and other online threats, more and more companies are upping their security games. This means that while LastPass and 1Password are currently the companies to beat, they might not always be.
However, once you’ve gotten your life organized on one password manager, it’s usually fairly simple to switch to another thanks to the excellent import and export options that are available today. And of course thanks to LastPass’s free month trial option, you have an entire thirty-day period to decide for yourself if it’s right for you (or not).
What Do Other People Say About LastPass?
Most online reviews have nothing but positive things to say about LastPass--in fact, many people specifically point out how much they appreciate the emergency contact information, which enables a person access to important accounts in case of accidents.
Anybody who has been through the death or serious accident of a family member or close friend understands how difficult this process can be, and having a helping hand through the process is incredibly helpful.
Should I Pay For The Premium Version Of LastPass?
LastPass’s free version is adequate for many people, but of course, the free trial is for the premium version, and it’s always difficult to downgrade when you’ve been enjoying all the bells and whistles!
There’s a good chance, however, that you don’t need those extras, so don’t be afraid to downgrade until you’re sure you need the premium version.
Who does need the premium version? Families will benefit from it (the family option isn’t available for free) as will people who want an online organizer for most of their most important documents. These people will need to pay for LastPass to get its full benefits--fortunately, it’s just a few bucks a month.
The Bottom Line: Who Is LastPass For?
The bottom line in this LastPass review is that this particular password manager program is an excellent security device for most people. It is intuitive and easy to use, works across all your devices, and utilizes state of the art security measures to keep your data and information secure and out of reach of people who would use it for nefarious purposes.
We especially appreciate the included password generators, which allow you to create extremely secure passwords without taxing your brain (or using your cat’s name). Ultimately, we recommend password managers in general--and LastPass in particular--for those who are serious about protecting themselves online.
Featured Image via Pixabay