RoboForm 6 from Siber Systems is a password manager for Windows that is also available for most smartphones.
Siber Systems created RoboForm more than a decade ago to automate the process of filling out forms online – until the CEO decided that he wanted to use it to automatically fill in user account names and passwords as well. The feature, which started as "a utility, a hobby for the CEO", is now the primary reason why people buy the product, says Bill Carey, vice president of marketing. The company claims to have more than 3 million users worldwide.
RoboForm supports the Windows operating system and its web browsers, along with the main smartphone OSes of iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. There are also version for Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile 6.
RoboForm sells two Windows versions: RoboForm Pro 6 for Windows and RoboForm2Go, a Windows-based application that can run from a USB key when inserted into any Windows computer. A native application for Linux is not yet available. Siber Systems plans to release a native version for Mac OS X later this year.
RoboForm runs from the Windows taskbar or from a browser toolbar extension (the application automatically installs extensions for Firefox or Internet Explorer; the Chrome extension has to be downloaded and installed manually). You have to use a bookmarklet to use it with Safari, Opera and other browsers. The Firefox toolbar also can be installed into Firefox Portable Edition for use on a USB drive.
After you install RoboForm and set up a master password, the program begins asking if it may collect user names and passwords as you enter them into websites. (It can also import data from some sources, such as browsers.)
A pop-up window appears when you visit a site for the first time and prompts you to save the log-in credentials into a newly named passcard. Thereafter, whenever you visit that site, you can click the Login button and choose the appropriate passcard, or navigate to the site and click on a context-sensitive shortcut button in your toolbar to log in.
For example, if you're already on the log-in page for, say, Facebook, you just have to click on the button (which will say "Facebook") on the toolbar to log in. (Make sure the correct account credentials are selected – if you have multiple accounts it presents them all.)
On each Windows computer you use, RoboForm stores an encrypted copy of your password data locally and keeps everything in sync by way of a master copy stored on its cloud-based service, RoboForm Online.
RoboForm Pro 6 for Windows sells for $29.95 for the first machine and $9.95 for each additional computer. RoboForm2Go sells for $39.95 per USB drive, or $19.95 if you also buy RoboForm for Windows.
Software applications required to use RoboForm with mobile devices are free. RoboForm Online is also free – you can log into the website and use it without buying any other RoboForm products.
Siber Systems also offers apps for a variety of mobile phone platforms, including iPhone/iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile (up to version 6; they are no doubt working on Windows Phone 7), Palm and Symbian. These allow access to the online copy of your password data but do not include local backup copies or offline access to your data.
We also tested the free RoboForm app for the iPhone on an iPad. To access your data you enter a four-digit pin instead of your master password.
Because Apple doesn't allow add-ons to Safari on the iPhone, the RoboForm app includes its own bare-bones browser window. You select the target website from RoboForm's list of sites and the app opens a second tab through which you log into and view that website. It's not the same as using your native browser, but it's workable.
We had no trouble logging into most sites but could not log into a Gmail account. Resynchronizing the data did not help. According to support manager Andrew Steed, Google treats the HTTP request we saved when accessing the Google log-in screen from a desktop differently when it's coming from an iPhone or iPad – presumably because it normally would redirect you from Google.com to a log-in page tailored for your mobile device.
To get around this, we manually entered the generic address www.google.com into the passcard's URL field, which then redirected the iPad to the appropriate log-in screen. We were then able to log in just fine. Such are the idiosyncrasies that can crop up when you're sharing a common password database across devices.
RoboForm works just fine once you're up and running, but getting all of the pieces and parts downloaded, set up and synchronized can lead to some head-scratching moments - a point that Siber Systems acknowledges. A spokesperson says this will be addressed when a version 7 (now in beta) is released later this year.
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Siber Systems RoboForm Pro 6: Specs
- iOS device
- iOS device
RoboForm is a solid product for Windows, and although there's no native application for Linux or Mac OS X and no ability to store and synchronize a local copy of your password data on those systems, the browser toolbar add-in for the Mac is quick and easy to use. As with 1Password, you pay a license fee per Windows PC or USB device, which can add up if you want to use the product on several different platforms.