PasswordBox - One password to rule them all?

Can PasswordBox deliver where others have failed?

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There has been some degree of hype recently around the start up PasswordBox. Their goal is near to my heart - create a single solution to manage all of your username and passwords online. With high hopes I jumped in line for their 1 Million account giveaway and was supplied with an account in just a few days.

Features Galore

There are several interesting features that make PasswordBox even more appealing. They offer the ability to securely share a password/account with someone you trust. There is auto-logon to sign you into sites without so much as having to click a button when you visit them. There is a secure password generator for when you create new accounts and want to protect yourself with a strong passphrase. There is even the ability to designate a successor to your entire catalog of online accounts in the event of your untimely demise (my wife balked when she received the email notice letting her know she was my password benefactor).

Installation was painless. The software comes in the form of a browser plugin available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer on Mac (less IE) and PC (less Safari). There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android to access your accounts on the go. Once installed, you log into your single PasswordBox account that you set up during the initial registration. Once logged in you have access to all of your saved account information and will have new accounts saved automatically as you use them on the web.

Periodically PasswordBox will generate notification messages in your browser to let you know when new passwords are being saved, or to tell you that it’s going to automatically log you into a site you're visiting. It all makes for a pretty seamless experience. Clicking on the PasswordBox icon in your browser toolbar will bring up a configuration window that let’s you access the full functionality of the software.

Username and password form fields become watermarked with the PasswordBox logo letting you know that you can retrieve an account for this site, or that logging in will save your account information for you. If you have multiple accounts on a single site, a handy account list appears letting you choose which to sign in with.

There is a lot to like, and for some this is the perfect way to manage their increasing number of online identities.

Why I removed PasswordBox

With all of these useful and well conceived features, why did I end up abandoning the system? The short reason is that with the number of accounts I have to manage, the program got in the way too often and resulted in extra effort. I wouldn’t consider myself your average user but here are some other reasons it wasn’t for me:

  • Auto-login is enabled by default for sites. When I get to a site with multiple accounts, it would automatically log me in to one that i didn’t want to sign in with.

  • The password generator would trigger on its own in some cases, this would fill in the password field for me automatically when I didn’t want it to.

  • The mobile app requires you to use the browser embedded in the app rather than your normal mobile browser.

  • I use multiple browsers and even though I installed the extension in each, they didn’t quite sync properly for me.

  • The notifications became annoying.

  • It constantly auto-remembered incorrect login attempts.

  • The amount of setting management for each account became cumbersome.

  • I don’t usually share my account information with others and didn’t need that feature.

  • I’m not too concerned with anyone accessing my online accounts after I die since, well, I’ll be dead. I’m sure the normal channels will get the right people the right stuff.

Still Waiting

There is a definite need for a system like this. I think that your average computer user might find PasswordBox appealing and useful and I’d encourage you to give it a shot. For me however, it was so close to what I wanted yet couldn’t perform how I needed. Perhaps down the road they will come out with a business or enterprise version specifically geared toward multi-account and client account management. Until that day I’m sticking to Firefox Sync and Chrome Sync to remember my account information across my devices for me.

Read more of Matthew Mombrea's ByteStream blog and follow Matt on Twitter (@mombrea) and Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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