I was introduced to LastPass by one of my clients who trusts my tech advice. He wanted to know whether it was worth investing time and money in. I had never used it before but I decided to use it for a few days so that I could tell him whether he should use it for himself and his employees or not.
As the name suggests, the promoters of LastPass want you to remember just one password for everything. Wouldn’t this be ideal? For everything, to email (or multiple emails) to social media to bank accounts to blogs to web services to project management dashboards to, practically everything that needs login credentials, wouldn’t it be nice if you could use just one password?
The problem is, sometimes people do end up using a single password if for nothing else, then just to avoid the hassle of managing multiple passwords and then getting mixed up in the process and sometimes, even losing one of the passwords.
LastPass actually wants you to use just a single password. No, you don’t have to assign a single password to every web service that you use. You can use as many passwords as you want, in as complicated manner as you want. It’s just that, once you have created a password for a particular website, LastPass takes care of it instead of you having to remember it.
For example, you open a new LinkedIn account. When you are entering your credentials like username and password, if you have gotten the LastPass plug-in installed in your browser, it will ask you if LastPass should generate your password instead of you deciding it yourself. If you let LastPass generate your password it uses a combination of upper case alphabets and lowercase alphabets, special characters and numbers to generate your password. You can also decide how long your password string is going to be. So even if you want to have a password that has let’s say, 20 characters, it can be easily created.
Once you have generated a password, a new profile of that website with all the login details is created in your LastPass account and then saved.
The next time when you log into your LinkedIn account, there is a small LastPass icon in the username and the password fields and if you click it, a small window pops up that lets you enter the login details with just a single click. That’s it, you don’t have to even remember what was the password.
Already have a LinkedIn account (I’m using LinkedIn just an example, it can be any web services account, for example Gmail)? Then you can go to the change password section and then change your password with the help of LastPass.
As you go on using websites LastPass prompts you to save your passwords into its dashboard. If I remember correctly it also extracts passwords that you have saved in your browser and then saves them under your account.
You can use LastPass to automatically fill in forms
Although the biggest benefit of using LastPass is that you can have hundreds of unique passwords without ever losing them (unless you remove the profile physically from your LastPass account), another benefit of using LastPass is that you can use it to automatically fill in forms. You can create different profiles, for example, I have a profile named “My Address” under the Form Fills section with all the necessary details of my address already saved. So whenever I am on a page that requires me to enter my address, I can simply click LastPass icon in Google Chrome, go to the Form Fills section and click “My Address”.
Using the Form Fills section of LastPass you can even create automatic email messages.
My experience of using LastPass on mobile phones and tablets
The experience of using LastPass on my Android mobile phones and tablets hasn’t been as smooth as it has been on my PC and laptop. Although it’s very easy to install the LastPass app once it’s installed, it doesn’t integrate well with other applications. For example, I have always had trouble logging into my Twitter account from my mobile phone with the help of LastPass. In order to login, I always have to go to the LastPass app, long press my Twitter profile in my LastPass account, copy the password, then go back to Twitter, and enter the password there. There is no option that allows me to straightaway let LastPass enter the password on my behalf in the Twitter app. Although this feature must be there, somehow I’m never able to use it.
Other than this small mobile-phone-related snag, I think LastPass is a great service. I have a paid account with them (I don’t remember why I switched over to the paid account but it has been worth it) though you can also use a free account with them with limited features.
Should you use LastPass or not
If you take your passwords seriously, then you should definitely use LastPass. The problem with using passwords is that you should not just be creating highly complicated passwords, but you should also have a unique password for every service you use on the Internet. This makes remembering all the passwords humanly impossible. This is a big reason why people end up creating easy to remember, simple passwords, and such passwords can be easily hacked.
LastPass on the other hand, within a split second allows you to create a password like “d%68#cvFh@7JgDt” and you can create such unique passwords for hundreds of websites without ever having to remember them.
The purpose of using LastPass is having to remember just one password, the master password that you create for your LastPass account. Once you know that password, you don’t need to remember any other password.
Something to remember before you start using LastPass
Remember that using LastPass is also filled with great risk because if someone gets hold of your LastPass password, he or she has access to every password you have ever used on the Internet.
So LastPass is not for the casual user who doesn’t take his or her password seriously. When you start using LastPass, you will need to create a very strong password for your LastPass account and then remove all the traces of that password from the physical world. Create it, memorise it and then don’t save it somewhere. If you fear that you might forget the password, you should write it down and save it in your locker or something. I’m saying this because although LastPass is one of the best ways of creating a safe online environment for you and your family, if you end up giving your password to someone who shouldn’t have it, you are done for. So it’s very, very, very important to keep your master LastPass password safe if you want to use this service to manage your online passwords.