Keeper Password Manager Review

Keeper is a reliable password manager that is easy to use for people of nearly any technological skill level to use. Don't let its bare-bones desktop interface fool you — Keeper's "vault" is set up to store not just passwords or personal details but any kind of files, such as photos, loan documents, copies of your driver's license, credit cards and so on.

But Keeper still has a few rough edges. There's no PIN option to quickly log into Keeper's mobile apps, and there's no automatic form filling to complete web forms. The two-factor authentication process can also be buggy, although some of that was mitigated by an Android app update.

Costs and What's Covered

Keeper has a free version, a paid one and a business version called Enterprise. The free version of Keeper lets you store an unlimited number of passwords and other items, but it confines your use of the service to a single device, won't let you use the Keeper website to check your account and gives you emailed tech support only.

The benefits of Keeper Unlimited, which costs $30 per year, are the ability to sync across unlimited devices, back up files to the cloud and obtain chat-based tech support on the Keeper website. There's also a Family plan, which for $60 per year extends Unlimited to five users.

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Keeper is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and for the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer browsers. (There's no Microsoft Edge extension yet.) You can get the Keeper app on iPhone, Android and Windows phones, as well as on iPads and Android, Surface RT, Amazon Kindle Fire and Nook tablets.

Keeper even works on Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, using the smart watches as login-verification devices.

Setup

Finding and downloading the Keeper desktop application was as simple as going to the Keeper website and clicking Download. We had it installed and were entering passwords in less than 5 minutes. Keeper mobile apps are available in the Apple App Store, the Google Play store and the Windows Store.

A four-part quick-start wizard guides you through the major features of the application. You start by creating your first record and then move to installing the browser extensions. Keeper's snazzy interface settings can be switched among several preset themes on the mobile apps, the desktop application and the browser interface alike.

As with any password manager, when you create an account with Keeper, you choose a strong master password to access your account. It's really important to make this password strong — and memorable — because it is the only key for accessing your information.

MORE: How to Create and Remember Super-Secure Passwords

If you lose the master password, you can't recover it, but you can reset it. You'll need to verify your identity by answering security questions and providing your email address. It's recommended that you enable two-factor authentication (it's turned on by default) to make this process more secure.

Once you've logged in, you can start adding your login information by manually filling out records with things such as the URL of specific websites and the usernames and passwords you use to log into each.

Keeper also lets you enter additional custom fields for more advanced login options, such as security questions and answers. You'll have to title those fields, but doing so is easy. You can then organize these records in categorized folders.

One significant downside of Keeper is that it does not allow for the direct import of password files from competing password managers. You'll have to export everything to a .csv file and then import that file to Keeper.

Two-Factor Authentication

With Keeper Unlimited, you can also (and we recommend that you do) opt in for enhanced security with Keeper DNA, the app's two-factor authentication (2FA) software. DNA gives you a choice of three second factors: a code texted to your phone, a QR code that the Google Authenticator smartphone app can scan, or a prompt sent to your Apple Watch or Android Wear watch.

Keeper's two-factor authentication gave us some trouble. For several weeks, we had to enter a texted code each and every time we logged in to Keeper on our smartphone or on the Windows desktop application.

The Keeper support staff told us our devices should be "registered" after the initial logins so that no second factor would be needed again, but the problem persisted on Android until we updated the app to a newer version. It still hasn't completely gone away on Windows. No other password manager we tested had this issue.

You can also go into your online account settings on the Keeper website and set the account to not ask for two-factor authentication again for 30 days, but that kind of defeats the entire purpose of 2FA.

MORE: How to Change Your Password in Windows 10

Keeper Desktop Application

With Keeper, you've got the choice of a mobile app, a web interface or a desktop application. All three renditions of Keeper are virtually the same, and all sync your information across each other.

So why have both a web interface and a desktop application? It boils down to ease of use and aesthetics. With the desktop app, you can skip two steps, since you don't need to open a web browser or navigate to the Keeper website. You just click the desktop icon and enter your credentials.

We also appreciated being able to access our accounts on the web from anywhere. Some other password managers that depend on desktop applications, such as Dashlane, give you full account access only from a registered computer.

Once we installed Keeper's browser extensions, a small yellow padlock icon appeared next to the address bar in our web browsers. You'll click this icon whenever you want Keeper to capture or play back login information.

When creating a new online account, you can also have Keeper create random, maximum-strength passwords for you with its password generator. The app will then log in to that website on future visits. To make use of this helpful component, all you have to do is "roll the dice" and hit the die to the right of the password field.

The extension also gives you KeeperFill, the password manager's auto-fill feature, which will save you the time spent entering your credentials whenever you log in to your websites. It lets you log in by simply clicking on the padlock in the upper right of every site and app.

We also appreciated being able to access our accounts on the web from anywhere.

However, there's no automatic form filling of other kinds of information that websites often ask for when you create accounts or buy things online, such as your name, street and email addresses, and credit-card information. Auto-form-fill is a useful feature found in many other password managers, and we hope Keeper adds it soon. Likewise, fingerprint authentication isn't available for Windows or Mac, even though many laptops have fingerprint readers built in.

Keeper Mobile Apps

The Keeper mobile apps are attractive and easy to use, but they offer no option to quickly log in using a PIN. Fingerprint recognition is available if your phone or tablet supports it, but otherwise, you'll need to type in your master password.

Having to type in our very long master password every time we wanted to use the Keeper app — it will log you out after 5 minutes by default, but you can extend that to 30 minutes — got pretty old, pretty fast.

We also thought it was strange that the Keeper app asked to access and import our Android phone's contact list immediately upon opening, but didn't do so on an iPhone. There's a secure browser, a feature that's pretty common among password-manager mobile apps, but it won't show up until you click on a URL in a vault entry.

Yet information and files we'd added to other devices quickly synced among all of our Keeper apps, and once the password was entered, everything worked swiftly and smoothly.

Overall Performance

Keeper is a zero-knowledge provider, meaning only you have the key to decrypt your files. Your saved passwords and other files, but not your master password, are synced and stored in Keeper's Cloud Security Vault, which is hosted by Amazon Web Services.

Keeper can't see your master password or the details of any of the files you upload into the app, but it does store an encrypted copy of the cipher to decrypt your data in its Cloud Security Vault. This is a nice backup feature in case one of your Keeper devices is lost or stolen.

All of your information in the Keeper "vault" is encrypted using 256-bit AES ciphers, the same standard that most other password managers use. In plain English, that means your information is secure and uses the latest technology to keep it so.

Keeper Unlimited fancies itself more than just a password manager. Its developers think the app truly can serve as a vault for all secure files, photos and documents. Although many other password managers include a notes feature, Keeper is one of the few designed to attach virtually any kind of file to any record.

You can store sensitive documents such as passports, driver's licenses and medical records in your Keeper Vault while keeping all of your data highly organized. Naming and uploading files and images was remarkably fast.

In July 2017, Keeper added a feature called Emergency Access, which lets you designate up to five individuals who can gain access to your password vault in case you are dead, disabled or otherwise incapacitated. The access won't be immediate — you'll have to set up a waiting period of a specified length.

Keeper is one of the few password managers designed to attach virtually any kind of file to any record.

Keeper allows you to share login information with others, but with more restrictions than LastPass or Sticky Password. You can share individual records only with other Keeper users; some other password managers let you share credentials with anyone. You can control the level of access (read-only, edit or owner) assigned to any shared user.

MORE: 10 Best Mobile Password Managers

Keeper offers basic password security help. As you enter a password, Keeper will tell you how strong it thinks the password is using a sliding color scale that indicates where the password stands on a scale between red (weak) and green (strong). It also evaluates the strength of your stored passwords, using the same color coding but adding a score ranging from zero to 100.

Bottom Line

Keeper's strengths include its remarkable ease of installation and use in all interfaces, and its ability to securely store any kind of file. Keeper's drawbacks are the lack of such conveniences as a mobile-app PIN, automatic form-filling and Windows fingerprint login.

All of those deficiencies can be resolved with software updates. Until they are, however, we'll recommend Dashlane or LastPass over Keeper.

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