As more of our lives moves onto the internet every day, the importance of protecting our sensitive data grows. While many of us are happy to share vacation photos and blog posts with the world at large, some information will always need to be protected yet easily accessible when we need it.
mSecure from mSeven Software is one of the many apps designed to keep your passwords and more safe from prying eyes, one with a far cheaper price than most. The app stores everything from credit card information and web passwords to Social Security numbers and bank account numbers. In a field of increasingly-cramped competition, can mSecure offer new features and better performance to help it stand out?
When you first launch the app, you’ll be asked to create a user account with your password. This password is the only way to access what will become your encrypted database, so you’ll want to remember what you choose. If you want to make sure you don’t forget, you can use a password hint that displays at login.
Once you are ready to start storing your information, you’ll be greeted with a clean slate. Across the top of the main window are some self-explanatory buttons to help you navigate and create your first entry.
The spartan interface generally stays out of your way and focuses on keeping entries organized. When you are ready to create your first entry, you click on the “Add Item” from the top navigation bar and a new window slides down.
At first, the generic titles for your inputs may seem disorganized. However, once you select the type of entry, these will change to help guide you through the process of entering the necessary data. For instance, clicking on Bank Account will change the input areas to more relevant names, such as “Account Number,” “PIN,” and “Branch.”
After you have created an entry, it will show up in the main window. All the entries will be broken down as a spreadsheet, and sensitive entries like passwords will get hidden. By selecting any given entry, the information will be displayed in the window to the far right for quick viewing. If you need to copy and paste a password from mSecure into your browser, you can click on the clipboard icon to copy it.
mSecure gives you a great deal of flexibility when it comes to organization. When you create a new file, you can choose from a two main, top-level categories – Personal and Business. You can add additional categories here as you wish. Doing so allows you to easily filter what you are shown in the main window, and can be a useful feature when you are looking to separate mSecure’s information for your work and personal uses.
My favorite feature with apps like this is the random password generator. If you are creating an entry for a website and want to make sure that you choose something that is complex (and thus, hard to break), mSecure will create one for you. As different websites have different requirements for the characters that you can use, mSecure allows you to specify whether to use any caps, numbers, symbols, etc.
In addition to grouping your entries, you are also given a number of templates for the type of information you will put into each file. As I mentioned when creating a bank entry, you will be presented with relevant input areas for your PIN, routing number, etc. These are all easily editable. You can edit the templates that come as the defaults, or you can create your own. When editing, you are given plenty of control in customizing the field-type (alpha-numeric, phone number, email, etc.), as well as the number of fields and the order in which they are shown. When you create a new entry, you can also choose from a large set of icons that helps to add a visual element in order to quickly identify the entry in the list view.
Almost as important as keeping your information secure is the ability to quickly access it wherever you are. For this reason, mSecure’s developers have also created an iOS app that syncs with the Mac version. Syncing can be done via iCloud, Dropbox, or via a shared file that you choose. I synced with iCloud and found that it worked quickly and without issue.
If you choose to bring the data in mSecure elsewhere, you can easily export the database via a CSV file. If you want to bring existing data into mSecure, you can import via CSV, SplashID, KeePass, and Dataviz.
When it comes to an app like this, there is no getting around the inevitable comparisons to the leader in this category, 1Password. To put it rather bluntly, 1Password looks much cleaner than mSecure, and it uses what I consider to be a cleaner layout. That said, for $40 less than 1Password, you can easily look past some of the aesthetic shortcomings of mSecure.
Perhaps the most glaring problem is not with the app itself but with the lack of extensions for your browser. What makes 1Password so convenient is the tight integration with Chrome, Firefox and Safari. When you encounter a login page, you can simply hit a keyboard shortcut and have the information automatically appear. Conversely, when you are signing up for a new website, 1Password will identify the information you’ve entered and ask if you’d like to create a new entry. mSecure simply doesn’t do this, so if you plan to use this app to catalog hundreds of web logins, plan on tabbing over to this app frequently.
As I mentioned, you can’t help but compare this to 1Password. While mSecure lacks some of the most important features, it is significantly cheaper. As a standalone secure database for your sensitive information, it works exceedingly well. Syncing with the iOS counterpart means that you worry about being without your credit cards, passport numbers, checking account information, and whatever else you choose to save.
When it comes to being a place to store web passwords, the lack of browser extensions makes it a much tougher sell. Personally, my 1Password database is full of hundreds of logins, and it grows daily. The ease of automatically logging into sites makes the steep price-tag worth paying.
Ultimately, I’d have no hesitation in recommending mSecure if your needs are basic: Backing up the contents of your wallet and other personal information. But if you plan to store all of your web logins, I’d recommend sticking with 1Password.