I’ve been a 1Password user for a few years now, but it was only recently that I decided to look into their subscription service. 1Password for Families is a $60/year subscription service that provides access for five users on a single Family account. The perks of this plan include:
- 1 GB of storage for each family member
- Access to iPhone, iPad, Android, and Mac apps (Windows doesn’t seem to be Family compatible yet)
- Access to a 1Password web app
- Shared vaults with the ability to restrict editing rights for specific members (“look, don’t touch!”)
Previous to signing up for the Family subscription, I had kept all of my personal information in the Primary vault (the default vault that comes with any 1Password installation). It took me a while to realize that there was no way to sync this vault with my 1Password for Families account; I had to actually copy or move my data from the Primary vault (which was synced via Dropbox) to the Personal vault in 1Password for Families (which syncs via Agilebits’ custom sync engine).
Personal and Shared Vaults
My father was also a little confused when I invited him to the family account; the first vaults you see are called Personal and Shared, and because he knew that I had vaults with those names, he thought that he’d have to share my vaults (which would mean we’d see each other’s passwords). It took a little while for us to figure this out, but each person you invite to the family account will be granted their own Personal vault, but anything that’s placed in the Shared vault is automatically shared and accessible across all family accounts.
I haven’t used it much yet, but I like the concept of the Shared vault. It’s a good place to keep details like the Family Netflix account, or to securely place passport information if we’re going on a trip together. What I don’t like about it is that everyone can edit it, and that doesn’t seem to be configurable. There are certain cases where I’d prefer to just have only a subset of users with editing rights, and simply grant viewing rights to others. This is possible if you create an entirely new vault and then share that with family members, but it also means that the Shared vault just sits empty. That’s a little annoying because, like the Personal vault, it’s always on screen. You can’t hide or turn these vaults off, so you’re stuck with them whether you use them or not.
I do like the idea of having 1Password detail available securely over the web. However, the way that Agilebits have secured web accounts does make it harder for me to access on a whim. The use case for me is that if I were somehow without my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro, I could log onto a random computer and get some of my info from the 1Password web app.
Here’s what I can remember: I could head to Ragnarok.1Password.com (that’s an example URL) and that would get me to my Family account page. I do remember the master password for the account, but I’d also have to enter a Secret Key. That key is over 16 characters long and not easy to remember, so it makes the web app into a more secure site that people can’t just stumble upon. Even if someone were to find your family account’s URL, they’d still have to know your unique Secret Key (which identifies which member of the family you are) and your master password. However, that level of security also means that it’s no longer reasonable for me to use the web app for the purpose I’d imagined. If I lose my devices, the web app will not be my solution for a quick lookup.
I’m intrigued by the idea of 1Password for Families. I’m already on a Spotify Family plan for $15/month, so sharing another little subscription with the family is not absurd. The trouble is that, while music is an exciting prospect to my family, password storage isn’t. The fact that browsers like Safari and Chrome offer to store and auto-fill passwords for you also dilutes 1Password’s immediate value. It’s definitely the more secure option for storing logins and ID cards, but I’m not sure it’s something I really need in subscription form.
That’s actually the kicker for me. I already own the 1Password app on the Mac and on iOS, and while I really enjoy using it, it’s not the kind of app where I really crave more features. The base functionality is there and I already own it, so the subscription doesn’t do that much for me. The web app and 1 GB of storage are handy extras, but not must-have features that I’m relying on.
The subscription be helpful for my parents because it provides them with cross-platform access to the 1Password suite of apps. The iOS version is available to use for free (with a few vault limits), but my folks would need to purchase a $50–60 license if they wanted to access 1Password on one of their desktops. The $60 per year subscription becomes a lot more palatable when seen in that light, especially if it’s split amongst one or more family members each year. The 1Password for Families account does offer a good deal for multiple users — but I’d need to convince enough people to use the service, for it to be of value. I was able to do that with Spotify, but passwords are a bit of a tougher sell.
If I don’t end up sharing more vaults with family members over the coming year, I think I’ll likely leave 1Password for Families and head back to syncing my data for free over Dropbox. I won’t have the web or Windows app (when it’s ready), but having my passwords on the iPhone, iPad and Mac is more than enough for me.