1Password - Why Is There No Free Version?

Password managers usually offer a free version but 1Password is only available on a paid subscription. This suggests that it’s a premium product. But in 2015, an engineer discovered a security flaw in 1Password’s cloud storage feature. So can it protect your data?

You must take care when choosing a password manager. Before you trust any application with your online security, you need to know that it’s completely safe and easy to use.

Free password managers have flaws and limitations. But there are plenty of well-respected free options available. And unlike 1Password, many of them have never had a security scare. So what makes millions of people pay for 1Password?

Why some Password Managers are Free and Others Are Not

So many password manager providers give their product away for free. How do they make money? While many companies provide free services by serving ads, this doesn’t apply to password managers. So how do password manager software companies survive? 

Most password managers operate on the “freemium” model. Freemium software providers offer a basic, free version of their product alongside the full, paid version. They can afford to have some non-paying users because so many people end up subscribing.

Freemium software providers usually have some method of pushing users into paying, such as restricting the number of devices or accounts that the free version covers.

What are the Risks of Using a Free Password Manager?

For the freemium model to work, there must be some drawbacks to the free version. Otherwise, no-one would bother upgrading. 

But a password manager does an important job handling highly sensitive data. These “drawbacks” must be taken very seriously.

Often a free version of a password manager will lack some essential feature. For example, you might only be able to use the free version on one device, or you might only be able to store a limited number of passwords.

You might not realize this until you’ve downloaded it and changed all your passwords. By this point, it can be difficult to stop using it. You might have little choice but to subscribe.

Other password managers will constantly remind you about the premium version. They take every opportunity to explain how much better things would be if you started paying. You may end up upgrading out of frustration.

Because 1Password doesn’t have a free version, you know exactly what you’re getting when you download the product.

What are the Benefits of Using a Paid Password Manager?

A paid password manager won’t nag you to upgrade. If it’s a good product, you’ll know you’re getting every feature you need. You can be assured that your passwords are under the strongest protection that the company can provide.

All password managers make big claims about how secure their product is. But every reputable password manager is reasonably secure. So, to stand out from the crowd, premium password managers also offer bonus features such as secure cloud storage.

Paid password managers also provide priority tech support. If something goes wrong with your password manager, it’s a major problem. You don’t want to be left without access to your email, messaging services, or online bank account. Having instant access to expert advice is crucial.

1Password v 1Password Families

Although there’s no free version of 1Password, there are two paid versions of the “personal” edition, plus a number of options for businesses. Let’s take a look at two personal options:

Features 1Password 1Password Families
Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and Chrome OS Y Y
Unlimited passwords, items, and 1 GB document storage Y Y
Friendly 24/7 email support Y Y
365-day item history to restore deleted passwords Y Y
Travel Mode to safely cross borders Y Y
Two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection Y Y
One-month free trial Y Y
Invite up to 5 guests for limited sharing N Y
Share passwords, credit cards, secure notes, and more N Y
Manage what family members can see and do N Y
Recover accounts for locked out family members N Y

What Are the Pros and Cons of 1Password?

1Password offers all the features that come as standard with most paid password managers. It performs these basic functions well, including auto-filling web forms. Some paid password managers, such as Zoho and Keeper, struggle with this.

1Password is available on virtually every platform. Cross-platform compatibility is crucial if you want to access your accounts on a laptop and a mobile device. Some free versions of password managers, such as Dashlane, don’t provide this.

Travel Mode is 1Password’s stand-out feature. Visiting somewhere with intrusive privacy practices or high crime levels? You can erase all sensitive personal information from your devices, and easily restore it when you return.

Some features are less impressive. For example, 1Password offers secure storage for your confidential data. This is quite common and can be seen in most password managers. Some password managers, such as LastPass, even offer this with their free version. 

1Password’s customer support is quick and friendly, but only available via email. You may prefer phone support if you’re locked out and need help urgently.

1Password Families offers more licenses, secure password sharing, and account recovery for an extra cost. 

But 1Password Families is not great value for money. LastPass and Keeper offer all of these extra features as standard. These brands are cheaper than 1Password – both the Families version and the standard version.

The Bottom Line on 1Password

1Password is a trusted brand that will keep your passwords safe. Although there was a security alert, this is related to users’ “metadata;” not their passwords. It was soon resolved.

Although 1Password doesn’t offer a free version, this shouldn’t be a major consideration if you can spare a few dollars a month. It’s worth paying for the security, usability, and convenience that a paid password manager provides

However, compared to other paid options, 1Password isn’t cheap. The Families version is actually one of the most expensive password managers available, and it doesn’t provide anything exceptional for the price. LastPass is a cheaper option, with a similar range of features.

About the Author

Scott Jackson
Scott Jackson
Internet security researcher

About the Author

Scott Jackson is an internet security researcher who has spent the last two decades working as an IT technician, programmer, and cybersecurity consultant with more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies. He spends his time researching hacking trends and helping make sure that people stay safe on the internet.