LastPass, one of the most popular password managers, is changing its pricing structure again, in a move that is the latest in a long line of changes that have changed repeatedly over the years. The change will kill much of the app's utility for many users.
LastPass announced on Tuesday that users of its free tier will only be able to use the app either on computers or mobile devices, but not both, starting from March 16. Before this change, users who chose the free version of LastPass could sync passwords on all kinds of devices. That feature will only be available to users who decide to upgrade to LastPass Premium or Families, which costs between $36 and $48 per year.
For years, LastPass required a premium account for users to download its mobile app. It changed that several years ago, making the free product a viable option for many of its users. At the same time, it continued to increase the price of its premium product. Because presumably most people log into their accounts on both desktop and mobile devices, this is a significant change that fundamentally alters the utility of the product.
Many users are complaining about the change on social media, claiming they will now switch to alternative password managers. Some see the change as an attempt to force them to upgrade to a paid subscription, which will allow them to sync passwords between computers and mobile devices like before the change.
The good news is that as a LastPass free user, you're not going to lose any data.
"Please note that all of your devices sync automatically, so you’ll never lose access to anything stored in your Vault or be locked out of your account due to these changes, regardless of whether you use computers or mobile devices to access LastPass," the company wrote in a comprehensive FAQ about the change.
"As a LastPass Free user, you do not need to take any direct action at this time. However, if you’d like to continue using LastPass on both your desktop and mobile devices, you can upgrade to LastPass Premium or Families," the company wrote. "Starting March 16, 2021, if you do not upgrade to LastPass Premium, the first device you log in on will become your active device type."
As we explain in the Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked, using a password manager is a must. Not only does using one make it harder for hackers to hack into your accounts, it also makes your life easier as password managers help you create and store unique passwords. This means you really only have to remember the password or passphrase that unlocks the password manager.
What can LastPass users do now? Here are your options:
- Stay with the free tier and choose what type of devices you are going to be able to access and use LastPass from.
- Have two separate accounts: one for mobile devices, one for computers. You will not be able to sync between them, so you'll have to do a lot of manual work whenever you change a password.
- Shell out for a premium account.
- Switch to a different password manager.
If you choose the latter, there's plenty of options. We like 1Password, but there's no free tier. Its cheapest offering is for $2.99 a month, so essentially the same price as LastPass Premium. BitWarden offers a free tier which is comparable to what LastPass used to offer. Dashlane also has a free version but it only works on one device. If you're a bit more tech savvy, KeePass is another option. But it's not easy to sync passwords from your computer to mobile devices, since KeePass doesn't store passwords in the cloud, and its iOS version is now deprecated.
Another option is using the password managers embedded in modern browsers like Chrome or Safari. These may not be the best choice if you share your computer with others, but offer similar features to the dedicated password manager apps.
A LastPass spokesperson said in a statement that the change “is part of our increased focus on delivering future Premium product improvements as the security landscape continues to evolve in this new era of remote work.”
“This update also brings our Free solution in line with other leading password managers who have more limitations on their free offerings,” read the statement, which was sent via email.
This story has been updated to include a statement from LastPass.
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