We constantly review the latest password managers as they grow and evolve. Some update frequently, adding features like password inheritance and automated password change. Others can go years without an update. For example, about seven years elapsed between RoboForm version 6 and version 7, and another six to reach the thoroughly up-to-date RoboForm Everywhere version 8. If your password manager is mired in the past, you don’t have to be a stick-in-the-mud. Changing to a new password manager isn’t a walk in the park, but neither is it impossible. Here are two ways to make the switch from your old, tired password manager to a slick, powerful new one.
Method 1: Slow But Steady
Password managers are a companionable lot, not like antivirus tools. In most cases, two running at the same time don’t fight each other, as antivirus software tends to do. Just install the new one without removing the old one. Each time you visit a secure site, the old password manager fills in your credentials, and the new one slurps them up into its own collection. Simple!
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If both tools pop up offering to fill your saved credentials, it probably means that you already migrated the site’s data to the new password manager. But look closely; it might be that you have more than one login for that site, perhaps home and work emails. In that case, I recommend logging in to transfer each of login for the site, so there’s no confusion.
Of course, you want to get all your passwords transferred, not just the ones you’ve used recently. One way to track progress is to delete each transferred password from the old utility. Another is to add a tag to those you’ve transferred (if the old password manager supports that functionality
Eventually, though, you’ll have to power through the remaining passwords, the sites that you haven’t yet visited during this migration. Most password managers have some kind of master list of passwords. Step through the list, launch each one, capture it in the new password manager, and tag or delete the old one. Repeat until finished. The beauty of doing it this way is that it weeds out sites that no longer exist, and sites where your password isn’t valid. Don’t care about the site? Just delete it without transferring.
A few years ago, I used this technique to migrate from LastPass Premium to Dashlane. It took a while, but it was worth the trouble.
Method 2: Could Be Fast, Could Be Trouble
If your old password manager doesn’t have an export function, or the new one can’t import, the technique just discussed is your only option. But if the features align, you may be able to switch over in a jiffy. Just don’t expect perfection.
Smart developers make sure their products can import from as many competitors as possible. LogMeOnce Password Management Suite Ultimate, for example, can import from almost 20 competitors. The list of import options for LastPass contains more than 30 products, but a closer look reveals that only a third of those are really relevant. Some of the rest are defunct, and others come from individuals rather than companies. Of the products I’ve reviewed, more can import from Dashlane, LastPass, and RoboForm Everywhere than from any others.
There’s a good chance that your old password manager won’t be on the import list for your new one. Hardly any products import from Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault, for example. But fear not. You can probably make the transfer using a simple CSV (Comma Separated Values) file. This is a simple text file, with each line representing a data element and the fields of that data element separated by (you guessed it!) commas.
The CSV file format is simple, but transferring your passwords may not be. The most important worry is the order of the data columns. Suppose one product orders the columns as URL, Username, Password, Name, and the other orders them Name, URL, Username, Password. Things won’t line up. I suggest you make an experimental import first. Export the CSV file, then delete everything but the column headers and one data line. Try the import function. If it worked, you’re golden. Export the old data and import it all!
If the import didn’t work, the way it didn’t work should give you some clues. You’ll have to open the CSV file in a spreadsheet program and put the columns in the order the new product wants. A few smart password managers offer the option to create a template, a CSV file that shows what they expect.
Even so, the export/import process can have its bumps. I recently switched yet again, this time from Dashlane to Keeper. Alas, I found that I lost all my password categories, and some entries didn’t import correctly. Dashlane proved to be the culprit. It simply doesn’t export the category information. And it included four comma-separated fields on most lines, but five on some.
Dashlane can also export to a password-protected proprietary format, to transfer between instances of Dashlane. With a little help from yours truly, Keeper’s developers worked out a way to import from this proprietary file. As of this writing, that feature is still in beta, but it worked for me!
Make the Move
Getting all your passwords into a password manager can take quite a while. Updating the weak and duplicate passwords is another lengthy task. By the time you’ve done both, you may feel that you’re locked
But as I’ve shown, you can always escape. In the best-case scenario, you simply export from the old product and import into the new. Done! Sometimes you need to massage the data to make that process work. You can also run both products in parallel, letting the new password manager capture the data filled by the old one (and, in the process, cleaning out any useless entries). One way or another, there’s hope for change.
As for which password manager should be your new best friend, check my roundup of password managers. We lean toward products that combine powerful security, a rich feature set, and a smooth user experience. Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault has the latest and greatest