Passwords while on the go can certainly be a challenge. If you use multiple devices like I do, you might have passwords spread out on notebooks, netbooks and other computers as well. While there are cloud-based solutions to help with this situation, some people don’t want to rely on them. For starters, you’re transferring password information over the air, you’re storing password data on someone else’s machine and if you lose connectivity, you’re out of luck. I think there are ways to mitigate all of those concerns, but understandably, not everyone feels comfortable with a web-based solution. RoboForm2GO provides a more tangible solution to password management by offering a portable version on a USB stick. I took a review unit supplied by RoboForm for a spin on my netbook and it certainly solves the problem with a few caveats.
RoboForm sells the portable version of their software for $39.95 to use on your own USB drive or you can pay an additional $9.95 for the software on a 1GB USB stick. The USB stick package also includes a short USB extender cable. My installation on the supplied USB drive was quick and painless. You might be wondering why there’s an installation at all since the software runs on the USB drive — in order for the application to work, it has to attach itself to Internet Explorer. Aside from that, it’s always running on the USB drive, which is where all of your password data is stored. Essentially, you can use the drive on any Windows computer and never fear that your password data is left behind for others to see. The app supports every edition of Windows, from Vista on down to Windows 98 and works with Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater. My usage was done on Internet Explorer 8, although I prefer to use Google Chrome. The RoboForm2GO FAQs indicate you can use the software with Firefox, provided you’re using the portable version of the browser.
So why use RoboForm2Go? Here’s the main selling points, per the product page:
- It runs from USB disk and it attaches to browser from outside.
- No installation to the client computer required.
- Works even if software installs are prohibited.
- When USB disk is pulled out, RF detaches from the browser.
- All passwords are stored on USB drive, not on client computer.
To use RoboForm2Go, you simply connect the USB drive into a computer. Once you do, a RoboForm2Go toolbar magically appears in the browser. Unplug the USB drive and the toolbar disappears, taking all of your password data with it.
The supported data encryption methods include DES, 3DES, AES, Blowfish and RC6. When setting up the application, you supply a master password which is probably the most important aspect. After all, your entire collection of passwords resides on the physical USB drive — lose it and someone has your data. Of course, without knowing the master password to open up the vault, they won’t actually get at your information. The potential to lose or misplace the USB drive is obviously the biggest security issue here, but I think the RoboForm folks have done the best they could to protect your data in that case. It comes down to personal preferences — do you feel comfortable with your passwords on a small device like this?
In my testing, RoboForm2Go worked flawlessly with passwords, different identities, PassCards and form filling. It’s essentially like using the full desktop version of the RoboForm software, so if you’re a fan or user of that title, there’s not much of a learning curve. And although I didn’t test it, you can synchronize you’re data with the RoboForm Online Server — you’ll also need GoodSync2Go for this function. Web synchronization is a key feature for a physical password solution, because without it you completely lose all of your password data if you lose the USB key.
Again, if you’re comfortable with carrying your passwords on a specific USB drive, I recommend taking a look at RoboForm2Go. The biggest downsides in my opinion is that you’re stuck using Internet Explorer with RoboForm2Go, unless you depend on Portable Firefox. I’d like to see the application expand to other browsers. And one minor nit — netbook users fight for every bit of screen space, so adding another toolbar to the display isn’t the most optimal.