Hardware

Review: KeePassX 0.4.1 password manager

KeePassX is perfect for those looking for a secure and portable solution for storing their personal information with cross-platform support.

You can store personal information like identification numbers, passwords, and files simply and securely with KeePassX, which is the cross-platform version of KeePass.

Specifications

  • Developer: KeePassX Team
  • File size: 6.6MB
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Linux requirements:
    • Build dependencies: Qt library 4.3 or higher (required modules: QtCore, QtGui, QtXml), libXtst
    • Application bundle: X11 with XRandR, Xinerama and XTest extensions and GLibC 2.4
  • Operating system: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5, Ubuntu, openSUSE 11.0 and 11.1, Fedora 10 and 11
  • Price: Free
  • More Info: KeePassX Home Page
  • Download: KeePassX Download
  • TechRepublic Photo Gallery

Who's it for?

KeePassX is perfect for those looking for a secure and portable solution for storing their personal information with cross-platform support.

What problem does it solve?

One single master password and/or key file means that you only have to remember one password and/or have access to one file for all logins. Securely stores your personal information encrypted instead of 'in the clear'. Simple to use password generator allows you to generate high quality passwords. Use KeePassX to securely take your data with you on a flash drive.

Standout features

  • Simple GUI: The screens are simple and easy to use. The left pane uses a tree structure to display groups, subgroups and entries. Two panes on the right show detail information.
  • Master password and/or key file: Use and remember only one password to have access to all of your ID/Passwords. Alternatively, you can use a single key file or you can use both a password and a key file.
  • Run from removable media: Can be run directly from a flash drive. No installation required, which is very convenient if you need to have your personal information available and secured on-the-go.
  • Securely store attachments: You can add any file as an attachment to the KeePassX database. This is a very handy way to carry your confidential business presentations and personal documents with you on a flash drive when you travel and still have them protected from prying eyes.
  • Supports and stores the following information:
    • Title
    • Username
    • Password
    • URL
    • Comments
    • Expires
    • Creation
    • Last Change
    • Last Access
    • Attachment
  • Searchable: One or more of the following items are searchable:
    • Titles
    • Usernames
    • Passwords
    • Comments
    • URLs
  • Secure: Uses 256 bit key encryption.
  • Cross-platform support: Run from Windows, Mac OS X or Linux
  • Usernames and passwords hidden: IDs and passwords are hidden or masked by default but can also be viewed unmasked.
  • Expiration date: Entries can be allowed to expire based on a user supplied expiration date.
  • Password generator: A simple to use but highly configurable password generator can create passwords up to 9,999 characters in length for the extremely paranoid.
  • Lockable: The main screen can be locked if you need to leave the computer but want KeePassX to be easily accessible.
  • Bookmark manager: Allows you to create a list of database files for quick access, or so it appears. I was unable to find any documentation on the Bookmark feature.
  • Entries backed up: Original versions of modified entries are, by default, kept in a group called Backup.
  • Configurable: There are a number of options for how KeePassX looks and works. Please view the TechRepublic Photo Gallery for details.
  • Support for multiple languages: 15 different languages are supported.
  • Freeware: Free for both personal and business use. KeePassX is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2.

What's wrong?

  • Database corruption: KeePassX uses a database that can become corrupted. I have never experienced a corrupted database but it is a good idea to keep backup copies of the database stored in a safe place. KeePassX has no database repair feature if your database becomes corrupted.
  • Auto-Type feature only works in Linux: You must manually copy and paste the username and password in Windows and Mac OS X. If auto-type is a necessity, consider KeePass instead.
  • One attachment per entry: You can only associate one attachment per entry. As a workaround, add the files you want to associate to a zip file and attach the zip file to the entry.
  • Attachments cannot be viewed or edited: Attachments can be stored in the database but not viewed or edited.
  • Path not remembered: When adding attachments, the default path is always the current user's folder, i.e. C:\Users\UserName.
  • Key file path and name remembered by default: When starting KeePassX and using a key file the path and file name for the key file selected previously may be shown in the Key File: text box on the Enter Master Key login screen. This lets others know the key file name and where it was saved: not secure at all if the key file was saved to the computer's hard drive.
  • Mouseover fails: Mouseover info does not work on some secondary screens i.e. the New Entry and Manage Bookmarks screen.
  • Help file: There is no detailed help available from the application but a Quick-Start Guide is included.
  • Poor online support: Other than an online forum there is no detailed online support available.

Competitive products

There are a lot of good password managers out there but they are not all implemented the same way. For example, there are Web sites that will store your personal information online. Even if encrypted, you may not want a third party to have access to your confidential information or you may not want to rely on a third party for getting access to your confidential information.

Note: The following applications may not have the same functionality, i.e. cross-platform support, as KeePassX.

Free

Commercial: fee based

Bottom line for business

KeePassX is a simple and convenient one stop solution for securing personal information. The ability to store files makes it much more than just a password manager. The cross-platform support makes KeePassX a standout from other password managers.

User rating

Have you encountered or used KeePassX? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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Author's Note:

I want to thank TechRepublic member tomas.sobek@... for his suggestion of KeePassX as a good password manager. I do in fact occasionally follow advice from TechRepublic members.

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About

Alan Norton began using PCs in 1981, when they were called microcomputers. He has worked at companies like Hughes Aircraft and CSC, where he developed client/server-based applications. Alan is currently semi-retired and starting a new career as a wri...

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