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Looking for a new password manager: Part 2: LastPass

April 29, 2022

In Part 1 of this series of posts, I told you what I was looking for in a password manager, and documented some of the failings of the first one I tested—1Password. I haven’t ruled out 1Password yet as it does have a Windows app, and that’s what I’m used to. I’m a bit wary of web-based apps only. That said, my next test, and the topic of this post was LastPass, which is a web-based app.

As for 1Password, I only downloaded/installed the free trial of LastPass and tested some of the functionality that I wanted. I didn’t download the Android app for it, but I did install the browser extension (it was required, so I couldn’t avoid that). My first tests were to see how easy the interface was to use, whether I could import my Passwords Plus (PP) data, what sort of template/categories it used, whether I could customise fields/field labels to suit my data etc. (As an aside, when I went to create an account, LastPass told me there was already one for my email address… it took several tries, but I finally jagged my ‘master’ password and was able to open the trial I had set up in 2011 with 70+ records and never touched since!! Because I already had this account, I wasn’t asked to enter payment credentials, though I’m not sure that’s the case for totally new users.)

Here are the results of my testing (no particular priority order):

  • No separate Windows app. This might be a showstopper* for me, but we’ll see. The browser app (I use Chrome) was easy to use and navigate.
  • The date field is MMM dd, YYYY, but you choose the months from a drop-down lists, so it’s easy enough for a dd/mmm/yyyy user to use.
  • I could add a custom category, with the fields I wanted, and in setting up those fields, I could arrange them in the order I wanted on the form. NOTE: Once saved, you cannot edit this form, only delete it, so make sure you add everything you need when you set it up, PLUS a Notes field for all other info. I successfully set up one for Product Information. Records added using custom forms are listed under ‘Custom items’ in the left navigation pane. This was a big plus for me.
  • Some records have the ability to add extra fields, but I couldn’t figure out which ones they were—all were listed under Notes, but not all Notes records had editable fields. I *think* only those records I’d imported that had URLs, usernames, passwords etc. might have this ability, but I need to test further. For those that I could add fields to, when you add them, you can’t rearrange them in the order you want, so you have to get them right first.
  • Speaking of importing:
    • PP was NOT an import option type for LastPass, and the CSV file I’d exported from PP had NO records that LastPass recognised when I tried to import it.
    • However, in my testing for 1Password, I’d converted a PP CSV file to 1Password’s *.1PIF file and that imported fine into LastPass. That’s a massive timesaver!
    • NOTE: Almost all the imported records went in as Notes records (called Secure Notes in 1Password), with limited splitting out into fields. Each record was tagged with the category it had in PP, but I can’t see any way to add tags to LastPass, except manually in the Notes field. Such ‘tags’ are searchable as part of the full-text search capability in LastPass, but as they are entered manually, there’s no master list of tags to choose from as you start to enter one (1Password has tagging capability).
    • Some records just didn’t import at all. They likely got lost in the conversion from PP to 1Password, and so don’t appear in LastPass either. This means I have to manually double check every one of my ~500 records to make sure everything has been captured. (Update: The PP export had all my passwords, but only ~380 were imported into LastPass. I don’t know whether they got lost in the conversion to the 1Password format, or because they got lost when importing from that format into LastPass. There’s no direct PP to LastPass import option.)
  • You cannot take an existing record (e.g. an imported Notes record) and apply a different category to it—as with 1Password, you have to copy/paste the record details from one record into the correct template. And being a browser-based application, this is difficult as when you click away from a popup window it closes!! Much copy/pasting is involved (likely with Notepad as an interim point), so it might be easier to start from scratch and do each PP record one at a time direct from the application, especially as some 100 records didn’t import at all and all have to be checked anyway. NOTE: I think this is going to be the same with ALL password managers I test—it certainly is the case with 1Password and LastPass. I might not be able to get away from the manual entry of everything into another password manager, so I’d better select the best one for my needs and way of working.
  • Exporting data:
    • You can export to a CSV file, but you ONLY get minimal information exported—URLs, usernames, passwords, but NO notes or other information. Notes are where I store a LOT of information so this is a showstopper for me—I’d want an easy way to export ALL my data to change to another password manager, if I decided I didn’t like LastPass.
    • You can also export to an encrypted LastPass file, and they say this keep all your notes, but I didn’t test it. I couldn’t find anything much on the internet (I didn’t look for long) about converting an encrypted LastPass file to another password manager’s format. This is a potential showstopper for me as I don’t want to be locked forever into one system, or have to manually enter my ~500 records—again—into another system at a later date.
  • Different vaults: You can set up separate vaults, but can only search within the active vault (user). I think I’d prefer to use folders and the full-text search across them all. Folders seem handy for organising your passwords and are fully customisable. 1Password’s equivalent seems to be Collections.
  • Supposedly you can use the browser and mobile versions of LastPass if you are offline and don’t have a connection (e.g. on an international flight, in an area such as a hospital where you may not have access but still need to give personal details to someone). I didn’t test this.
  • With the LastPass extension turned on in my browser, some websites seemed to take longer to load. This may or may not have been related to the extension and more testing would be needed to see if that was a causal correlation or not. It was a minor annoyance.

Overall, LastPass is showing promise as a replacement, but if it can’t export ALL data to a format that can be converted and imported into another system that’s a concern for me. And the lack of a Windows app is still a concern too.

My next test will be of Dashlane and then mSecure, the one PP recommends as a good substitute.

* Note: ‘Showstopper’ is a common term in the software industry and refers to a bug that prevents the system from working, or a piece of functionality that doesn’t work as it should and prevents the user from going further, either because the function is broken or because it is deemed essential *for that user*.

3 comments

  1. […] have a Windows app, and that’s what I’m used to. I’m a bit wary of web-based apps only. In Part 2 I tested LastPass, and despite it being web-based only, I haven’t ruled it out entirely yet […]


  2. […] of CyberText Consulting – technical communication specialists « 18 million hits Looking for a new password manager: Part 2: LastPass […]


  3. […] specific requirements, most of the main password managers I tested just didn’t fit the bill. LastPass was the main contender, followed by 1Password (now uninstalled), and Dashlane was out. Others that […]



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