Best Password Managers: Top 4 Reviewed

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Clipperz is a free, Web-based, open-source password management service that also lets you download a read-only copy of the application and your password data.


It works with any computer capable of running Firefox, Chrome or any other browser that supports JavaScript -- including my iPad running Safari. It also offers a version of the Clipperz Web site that's optimized for mobile phones and other devices with small screens.

Clipperz stores the offline copy of your password data as an encrypted HTML document. The local copy doesn't update automatically, so if you want to keep your offline copy up-to-date you will need to download a fresh one each time you update your database. It saves to a different date-based filename (e.g., clipperz_20100915.html) each day you use it; I purposefully overwrote the same file name each time so that I could open the file using the same Firefox bookmark.

Once you've set up an account, you can open either the online password vault or the local copy of your data using your user name and master password.

Like RoboForm and LastPass, Clipperz initially encrypts password data locally, on your computer, before uploading it to the cloud. Once you set up an account, you can import data (Clipperz supports five formats, including Excel and CSV) or enter your account credentials manually.

Setup involves creating password "cards" that contain the Web site address, log-in name, password and any other required data. Web sites can be grouped into categories.

Clipperz lets you create simple Web password cards you can use to copy user names or passwords to the clipboard and then paste into Web site log-in fields. For each site you need to create bookmarklets to have Clipperz automatically log you in. That takes a little bit of work.

You start by dragging a link from the Clipperz Web site onto your bookmarks toolbar, where it appears as a button. To add a bookmarklet for a new card, you navigate to the target site and click the "Add to Clipperz!" button. A window pops up with code in it that you copy to the clipboard. Then you go to the Clipperz Web site, log in, edit the card and paste the text into the Direct Login field. It doesn't take too long once you get the hang of it, but the process could be much easier.

After that you can automatically log into those Web sites by logging into the Web site and clicking on the site you want to access from a list. Clipperz loads the Web page in a new browser tab and logs you in automatically.

Clipperz will also work with Portable Firefox or other portable browsers on a USB drive. A Compact Edition, designed to run in the Firefox bookmarks sidebar or Opera's panel, offers read-only access to your online password data. The compact version is somewhat faster because you don't need to navigate to to log in. However, to change a Web site's log-in credentials or add a new card you'll need to visit the Clipperz Web site.

Clipperz is free and there's nothing to install locally, except to configure bookmarklets. The open-source code is freely available -- if you don't trust them with your data you can always host Clipperz on your own server. But setup and maintenance of your password data is a bit more involved than with LastPass or RoboForm, and locally cached, read-only copies of your data don't update automatically.

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