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Looking for a new password manager: Part 4: mSecure

May 4, 2022

I left testing mSecure until last, as I explained in Part 1. Because I have quite 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 I’d seen reviews for in online articles, comparisons, and YouTube videos that showed how they worked, had eliminated themselves from contention because they didn’t offer the flexibility I’m familiar with (thank you to those who commented offering their suggestions). mSecure had been recommended by Dataviz, the makers of Passwords Plus (PP), and they had assured us that all our data would be imported seamlessly. Well, there were import problems for the early adopters, but the mSecure people sorted those out within a few days. I waited a week or so to let the teething troubles settle down, but today was the day.

It didn’t start well. You can only get the mSecure Windows app via the Microsoft Store, which I’ve never used before. I tried to download it via the Microsoft Store using my browser (Chrome), but my ‘device’ (PC) was not recognised, so I went in via that device (Start button, Store) to get it. This is a VERY convoluted way to get a product!!! especially if you have more than one Microsoft ID as I do, which is why I reverted to the Microsoft Store via my PC. Once it downloaded and installed itself, I tried to find it as I keep all my EXE files on my server—it seems it’s in a hidden folder on the C drive: C:\Program Files\WindowsApps. But once you get there, you’re locked out of seeing what’s in that folder even if you have hidden files turned on and have Admin privileges for your PC. As I said, not a good start. I like to have control of where an app is installed and where the executable is in case I have to reinstall etc. That’s likely a hangover from nearly 40 years of using computers, but it’s something I’ve always done (which is rather silly because I don’t worry about this stuff on my tablet or phone!).

So, to my mSecure review based on testing my exported PP CSV file and the things I want my new password manager to do. There’s no point in purchasing an app if I’m going to LOSE functionality, or an app where I have to have things in different places because there’s no flexibility in how the data is entered or stored.

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

  • mSecure has a Windows app, which is where I did my testing. I haven’t tested it on my Android tablet or phone as yet.
  • ALL my records from PP were imported in about 2 secs! Everything came through—all my notes, my custom fields, everything. All my existing categories from PP came in as tags. This is a HUGE win.
  • You can add fields and attachments to records, and there are numerous field types to choose from too. You can add/delete/edit fields from records based on templates too—once you’ve created the record, the fields are divorced from the template’s fields and any changes you make to the record are not reflected back in the template. You can change any field labels.
  • You can auto backup to a local file location after every 5 changes you make to your password manager file (under Settings).
  • You aren’t forced into using the company’s cloud storage for synching—you can keep your database just on your own machine (likely no synch with phone app, but not tested), in Dropbox, iCloud, or in their cloud. I chose their cloud, but you can change this setting at any time.
  • You can add your own templates (via Settings), and you can modify existing templates, including adding/deleting/editing fields and their labels, rearranging fields. There are many existing templates to choose from too.
  • Some of the icons are a bit confusing and some don’t have tooltips to tell you what they do, which is a bit disconcerting for those icons where the image doesn’t give any clue as to the function. I tested the circular icon with an arrow in it at the top of a record to see what it did—it opened a new email with all the contents of that record included in it.
  • On a record, you click the eye icon for the password field to show the password, but there’s also an eye icon at the top of the record to show any field that’s normally hidden on the record. And if you’re still in the same session, the show/hide eye icon persists across records so you don’t have to click it on every record.
  • You can set the time before the program logs you out and you have to enter your master password again. The default is 2 mins, but you can make it shorter or longer. You can also tell the system to lock you out totally if more than x failed attempts are made for the master password—and you can set it to never locking you out too.
  • You can add multiple tags to any record.
  • You can apply an existing template to an existing record—the existing fields are kept and the fields in the template that aren’t already used are added. However, check things like expiry date for things like the credit card template as that may take the date the records were imported. See further info on dates below.
  • You can change field labels, even after applying a different template to an existing record.
  • Check everything! (this would apply to any import of critical information such as that kept in a password manager). I noticed that one credit card record got the fields mixed up (e.g. I had 4 Mastercard records—some had the same PINs across each that weren’t applicable, along with the correct PIN). NOTE: If I went with one of the other programs I tested, I would’ve had to do all the data entry via copy/paste, so checking is a much simpler process in mSecure, though it will take time for nearly 500 records. In the first batch of 30 or so records I’ve checked so far, I’ve found no errors. (Update 10 May 2022: I’ve now checked all ~500 records and less than 2% had errors, and these were minor.)
  • More on dates:
    • Because it’s a Windows app, it correctly uses the same date format as your Windows settings (i.e. dd/mm/yyyy for me).
    • When you’re editing a record, especially an imported one, check any date fields as the date you entered in PP may not hold in Edit mode—to solve this, I opened PP next to mSecure and manually re-entered the dates.
    • Also, be aware that you cannot type a date—you have to use the date picker. This is no problem for recent additions, but at first I thought you couldn’t easily go back via years (e.g. to select a date in 2000, I thought you’d have to go back 22 (years) x 12 (months) clicks to get to it). But then I found that if you click the year in the top of the date picker, you get a list of years to choose from, and if you click the month, you get a list of months to choose from.
  • You can give each record an icon to help you identify similar things in the long lists (e.g. a house icon for things to do with your house), where an icon hasn’t been found on the internet for the thing (e.g. an Airbnb record will show the Airbnb icon without you having to do anything, but you could change it to a generic travel icon if you wished).

My overall assessment after a couple of hours of testing—mSecure is the one for me! I’m on day 1 of a 30-day trial, so I’ll continue checking my records and cleaning them up as I go (something I should have done in PP a while back), then once I’m happy with my database, I’ll try linking to the Android app on my phone and tablet and report back.

Update (5 May 2022): The CSV export from mSecure exports EVERYTHING, including all notes. I’m up to Day 2 of my trial and up to ‘F’ in checking the entries against PP, and so far NOTHING has been lost or mixed up.

Update (10 May 2022): I’ve now checked EVERY entry against those in PP, and of the ~500 passwords I imported, only 2 were missing (no idea why), another 2 had mixed up info (possibly because one record was duplicated from another in PP?) and a further 4 didn’t have their notes. So, some 8 (let’s be generous and say 10) records were either missing, had missing info, or had mixed up info, which is 2%, so 98% of records came through without error. Not bad. My next checks will be installing mSecure on my laptop and accessing the database from there, and also on my Android tablet and phone. Assuming that all works well, I’ll be purchasing this software before the trial is over.

Update (21 May 2022): Today I bit the bullet and installed mSecure on my laptop and signed in (you will need your username, password, AND the QR code or [incredibly long] authentication key you got and printed out when you set up your account to sign into another device). Everything synched beautifully. Then I installed the mSecure app on my Android tablet and Android phone—again, everything synched beautifully once I’d signed in and authenticated myself with the camera on these devices reading the printed QR code. You only have to do this authentication thing once on each device—after that, you can just sign in with your username and password. And because my testing was so successful and I’m now using the mSecure app instead of PP, I also purchased an annual subscription (with the bonus of a 25% discount for previous Dataviz PP clients).

You can find out more about mSecure here: https://www.msecure.com/ (if you want to use the Windows app, it may be easier to get it via the Microsoft Store in Windows—just search for mSecure; use Google Play to get it for Android devices)

NOTE: This is MY assessment based on MY needs. Your needs may be very different to mine, so your choice of a password manager will likely be different too.

2 comments

  1. […] going to test mSecure last. Why? Because it barely cracks a mention on the internet, and is not listed in the top 5, top […]


  2. […] next test will be of Dashlane and then mSecure, the one PP recommends as a good […]



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