Monday, August 6, 2007

PassPack and Clipperz, head to head

I've talked about PassPack and Clipperz before. I have been playing with both sites over the last few months, trying to decide which one I want to use. They both have features that are necessary, like a high level of encryption. They are both easy to use. They both are easily accessible from any browser and computer. Where they differ is in the implementation. I still like the interface of PassPack better than Clipperz. To me, it just makes more sense. But Clipperz's interface is not bad either. I just prefer PassPacks.

Clipperz has had a feature called "Direct Login" for awhile now. This feature allows you to click a link and have Clipperz automatically open a window (or tab) for that site, and automatically log you in, doing it in a highly secure way. They include a bookmarklet to help with the creation of the card with the necessary information for automatic log ins. This, for the most part, works.

PassPack has had a similar feature in the works for awhile now, and has recently released it as "Auto-login". I like the way PassPack has implemented this feature. They have a button similar to Clipperz's bookmarklet called the "PassPack It!" button. This button allows you to easily configure a website for auto-login. You first create an entry in PassPack for the site in question. After that, you click on the "Go There" button to open up the website in a new window or tab. Then you click the PassPack It! button and, if this is your first time setting up the site, it will give you instructions to click on the username field, then the password field, and then the login button. You are basically teaching the system where the fields are. After that, when you click the PassPack It! button on that website, it will automatically fill in the information and log you in.

I like PassPack's set up process, but I like the way Clipperz does it after everything is set up. Setting up direct login's for Clipperz is a bit tedious. But once it is set up, you click on one link, a new window or tab is opened to that site, and you are automatically logged in. PassPack, however, you have to click on the "Go there" link and then click on the PassPack It! button to initiate the auto-login. A "Go there and log in" button in PassPack would make PassPack more competitive. So, right now, I'm leaning towards Clipperz again. It saves me an extra click...

Currently, I have 37 entries. Most of those sites work. But some do not. Some sites have two step authentication. This is where you enter a username (or some other information) on a screen, and after clicking "next" or something other button, you are presented with a second screen with your password field, and they usually have other identifiable information to thwart phishing. Systems like this simply do not work with auto-login systems like Clipperz and PassPack. Maybe one day, but not now.

Then, there are sites that have a single place to log in, but do it in a funky way. Or have a window that pops up like Diet Television. Or, they have a box that slides down from the top, like Technorati does. These sites, as well as the two step authentication, just don't play nice with Clipperz and PassPack.

Here is a list of sites that do work:
Blockbuster Online

This is just a sample of ones I've set up for auto-login.

Now, when I first set a few up sites for auto-login, there were a few that Clipperz could do that PassPack could not do. Trying everything again today showed that all sites that worked in one works in the other. So, either I was screwing something up, or PassPack has made some improvements in the last couple of days. I'm not sure which. But what I do know is that I really like being able to click one button to have everything done for me. I don't know if it was designed that way, or if PassPack will fix it. Until it is fixed, I'm going to have to start using Clipperz a little more than usual.

I will, however, continue to use both. I don't like the idea, for one, of having all my eggs in one basket. Plus, Clipperz still doesn't have one-time password capability yet. PassPack currently has this feature (they call it a "Disposable Login"). I can set up a one-time password that automatically expires after a certain period of time. A period of time I can select. I can use the randomly generated password exactly one time to log into my account. It helps keep the keyloggers at bay.

Clipperz is also lacking decent backup and restore features. You can export your data in a printable format. But that isn't very secure. PassPack can give you a printable version, if you'd like, but you can also have the data stored in an encrypted file. And the file can be encrypted with your account passwords, or a completely different password can be used. Your choice. Clipperz has no import feature, and PassPack offers the ability to import a CSV file, or you can restore the encrypted file mentioned above.

That's it for now. They both have had quite a lot of improvments over the last few months. And there just isn't a clear winner. Both are well done and easy to use. As improvements are made, I'm sure a winner will be more clear. But until then, I'll continue using both.