Review: KeePassWin UWP


The ongoing saga of keeping a secure database of passwords, serial numbers, reference data, and so on.... on Windows Phone, or, in this case, Windows 10 Mobile. If you've been following over the years then you'll be interested in this latest review, for KeePassWin, a UWP app for Windows 10. It's not yet the real McCoy though, as I shall explain...

Buy Link | Download / Information Link

As I mentioned when introducing secure databases a couple of years ago:

You'll probably be very familiar with the concept of a password manager - Lastpass springs to mind, a system for remembering the passwords you use on multiple web sites. But here I'm talking about a 'secure database'. Sounds grand, but it just means a store for all sorts of private information. You know, all the info that you'd worry about if your phone ever got stolen - how much do you keep in plain text in various documents and contact records? In my case, it's:

  • web site logins and passwords
  • bank account details and security answers
  • vehicle details and ID refs
  • insurance and passport numbers/details
  • credit card codes and numbers
  • software registration codes
  • hardware serial numbers and warranty information

So, yes, web sites are in the mix, but there's very much more than this. Almost 1000 entries in all, amassed over a decade...

My long term solution, across modern platforms, turned out to be KeePass, an open source secure database format (and example access code), or more precisely, KeePass 2.x, since the second iteration of the format is the better secured and the more flexible. There are KeePass 2.x clients maintained by enthusiasts on almost all computing platforms. The database itself remains a binary, encrypted blob, living on a cloud drive (in my case, I keep it on both Google Drive and OneDrive), then applications can grab it as needed.

Well that's the theory, though I've yet to find a Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile application that reliably saves changes to entries back to the cloud. There's the rather slick, Hello-compatible KeePassReader, which opens the KeePass database but can't actually edit it. And then there's this, KeePassWin, able to open a local KeePass database, edit it and save changes, but this doesn't apply to saving back to OneDrive, for example. In other words, both are compromises, but both are noteworthy, depending on how you like to work this sort of thing.

In fact, you can even use both together, with the saved local KeePass database on the phone (e.g. in the Documents folder), one unlocking trivially with Windows 10 Hello (e.g. with fingerprint) but acting as the main reader and the other requiring the typing of a long master password but allowing full editing. And then, every now and then, you back it up manually to OneDrive via the Microsoft client.

If all this sounds a bit involved then yes, it is, but I'm working on the problem, year on year, and the workflow is gradually getting better.

In any case, KeePassWin does work as advertised:

KeePassWin UWP screenshotKeePassWin UWP screenshot

A plain opening screen, the 'open' control opens a new database that the app hasn't seen before, the various previous databases are lined up top-left....

KeePassWin UWP screenshotKeePassWin UWP screenshot

Then there's the master password, the only one you ever need remember(!), leading to the labyrinthine depths of your secrets, hopefully categorised neatly, as here.

KeePassWin UWP screenshotKeePassWin UWP screenshot

Drill down deeper into each category and here are your entries, with the first field previewed and handy username/password field copiers - use these if you need to paste either of these major fields into another app or web page; (right) within an entry can be anything you like. Often a username and password but also sometimes multi-line notes on a subject, as here, with an old prescription of mine(!) The uses for the fields (you can add more in a proper KeePass client on your desktop) are as varied as your needs and imagination.

Although the search and editing functions work well in KeePassWin UWP, there's clearly work for the developer to do - I'm sure integrating Windows Hello can't be that difficult, and then that would obviate the need for KeePassReader.

I'll keep you all posted, of course!

Reviewed by at