03 JUN

Review: Ascendo DataVault Password Manager for iPad

by Marianne Schultz
 

According to the experts, staying safe on the internet requires complex, unique passwords that are changed frequently to decrease the chances that your online banking and other accounts will be compromised. If you’re online as much as we are, you probably have a lot of online accounts to worry about and keeping track of all of those passwords can be a chore (writing them all down on a piece of paper you keep at your desk next to your computer is not secure and is not a good idea). Enter the Ascendo DataVault Password Manager app – this universal app promises to keep your passwords and other private data such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers and other information, secure on your iPad or iPhone using the same encryption standard employed by the U.S. government.

Like other password manager apps we’ve seen in the App Store, Ascendo Datavault works with a desktop companion application, available for both the Mac and PC. The app works perfectly fine alone and the companion app is not needed, however it is useful to synchronize and back-up this important data so that in case something happens to your iPad, iPhone, or computer, you’ll still be able to access your passwords. We’d recommend using the designated companion app for Datavault or any other password app you’re considering. DataVault’s desktop applications are currently on sale at $9.95 for the Windows or Mac OS versions and each offers a 30-day trial so you can test them out before buying.

When you first open the DataVault app, you are asked to create a password. This password will be the gatekeeper between you and everyone else to keep your other passwords and private information safe, so make it a strong one that you will remember. You can also set a hint for the password to help prod your memory should you forget it.

After you create your master password, you can access the “vault” itself where you store your passwords and other information and you can choose a List or Tree view to browse through them. The app comes with a lot of sample entries for your reference and while we find these to be a little useful, we wish there was a way to delete them all without having to go into each one and delete it individually.

To create a new entry, you click on the plus button in the bottom left corner, which brings you to a blank entry screen. You can name the entry in the first empty dialogue at the top and then select a category and type. Next, you can enter the log-in and password or other private data you want to save.

But where are the handy fields already labeled “log-in” or “password”? They’re not there by default and this is what we like least about DataVault in comparison to other password manager apps we’ve used. The app does have plenty of templates so you don’t have to manually label fields each time you create a new entry, but you can only get to these through the Template button at the bottom of the screen after you’ve already created a new entry. We’d rather see the available templates integrated either before you create a new entry or at the top so it’s part of the actual entry creation process.

You could also avoid the completely-blank new entry screen by using the handy Duplicate button to instantly copy an existing entry or one of the provided samples and then simply edit the fields as required. However, this is still a work-around and we think the creation of a new entry could be more streamlined overall to better utilize the included templates.

One of the app’s more useful features is a password generator. Here, you can select different password elements and lengths and an indicator  at the top will let you know if the password is weak, good, or strong. Tapping on a generated password will prompt a dialogue to save it to the clipboard so you can use it in an entry within DataVault or somewhere else.

Within entries you’ve already created, URLs and email addresses are actionable and tapping on them will bring up prompts to open Safari or Mail (tapping on phone numbers will open the Phone app on an iPhone). If you have a lot of entries, a search button in the top left corner of the main List or Tree view will bring up the keyboard so you can enter search criteria to narrow down the list of entries to find the one you need.

The Options menu is where you manage the app’s templates and settings and find help files. The level of customization offered when it comes to categories, entry types, and templates is great, particularly if you a lot of different types of private data you want to safeguard within the app for which there no existing templates or labels.

Also in the Options menu are the security settings where you define the maximum number of failed log-in attempts (after which all data within the app will be wiped) or after the app has been left open without activity and more.

We also tried out the companion app for the Macintosh OS as well and found syncing it via Wi-Fi (both the iPad and your Mac must be on the safe Wi-Fi network to do this) to be a breeze. We were disappointed to learn that it’s a little harder to transfer any data you have from another password manager application to the Mac desktop application since it only accepts a couple of import file types. One work-around is to use the Windows version of the desktop app since that version accepts a wider variety of import file types, including the native SplashID format we wanted to try. While we know it’s not always easy or feasible for companies to provide the same number of features in applications across a number of platforms at the same time, we’re always a little sad to see when a Mac version is short-changed compared to a Windows version.

Overall, we found DataVault to be fairly straightforward to use and full of all of the right features to help make securely storing passwords and other sensitive data easy. Aside from the template issue we mentioned earlier, we think it’s a very good solution to safeguard your private data on your iPad. As a universal app, those with both an iPhone and an iPad will be able to use DataVault easily on both devices, which only adds to the app’s value.

Ascendo does offer a lite version of the app so you can try it out for free first if you’d like – this version limits the number of entries that can be saved and will not sync with the desktop companion application but it will still give you a good feel for how the app works.

  • Productivity

    DataVault Password Manager

    Last Changed:
    4 weeks ago
    Rating:
    4.50 (235)
    Version:
    5.1.51
    iOS Universal

    The Leading Password Manager for iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch - AES Encryption - iCloud Sync & Backup - Advanced Security Options - Universal Application - Mac & Windows Desktop...

  • Business

    Data Vault Password Manager Lite

    Last Changed:
    64 months ago
    Rating:
    2.50 (283)
    Version:
    4.2.1
    iOS iPhone

    ✦✧✦ FREE VERSION ✦✧✦ The free version of Ascendo DataVault is limited to 10 items. The paid version has no limit on the number of items and can be synchronized with Ascendo DataVault...

17 Comments

  1. Jonathan

    I use Datavault on my iPhone, iPad and Mac. Synchronization has been very dependable. It even handles special cases of simutaneous edits on two devices by prompting me to choose right one. Great app!
    J

  2. Marc

    Hi Marianne,

    We released DataVault for Mac version 4.3 which syncs to DataVault for iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch. The new version includes;
    – New synchronization options in addition to Wi-Fi
    – Enhanced security settings; maximum login attempts, timeout action
    – Improved importing data from 3rd party apps such as SplashID & mSecure.

    For a complete list, please see the Release Notes on the product home page.
    http://www.ascendo-inc.com/datavault/macos/password-manager.html

    Best,
    Marc
    Ascendo

  3. RebelYellow

    I got tired of waiting for decent Mac version for similar product, switched to Data Vault, glad I did.

  4. Randy

    Windows can search on any field of a record; but not on the field names, so though you could use some field names to distinguish several entries on one record, you can search on that. (E.g., I have passwords on several machines in a cluster, but using the machine names as field names and passwords as values doesn’t work well.) More importantly, iPhone app can’t search on anything but record name, so you can’t find things by field values or notes. I have passed these along as suggestions to developers.

    Also, notes are limited to about 10000 characters. Not bad but pasting into the notes silently truncates, so if you’re saving something there, there is no warning it’s been chopped off. Worse, when you sync to the iPhone, it chops it off at 2400 characters, again with no warning. So you need to watch it for notes.

  5. Randy

    Typo: if it wasn’t obvious, that first sentence was supposed to say “… you CAN’T search on that.”

  6. Nancy

    I have been in hell since I bought DataVault for my Mac & iPad. I cannot get the two apps. to sync. I have been e-mailing Support for over a week. All they do is repeat back to me the same things that are already given on their support page & that I’ve already tried. There is no way to contact the company other than by e-mail. I have asked several times if I can speak to someone on the phone. I have also asked how to get the money I spent for these two apps. refunded. Nobody seems to be paying attention. This is the worst technical support that I have ever come across in all my computing experience.

  7. Marc @ Ascendo

    I noticed the post from Nancy and asked our support team to look for the incident.

    A person named Nancy confirmed that we had solved an issue on September 14th related to syncing DataVault between iPad & Mac. In that case, the Mac’s “Computer Name” was set to blank and the person had selected a Wi-Fi service for synchronization that was not related to DataVault. After naming the Mac using System Preferences > Sharing > Computer Name, they were able to select the DataVault service and synchronize successfully.

    If you have any problems, please email wallet_supportATascendo-incDOTcom or visit our support page at http://ascendo-inc.com/support.html

    Best,
    Marc
    Ascendo

  8. Marc @ Ascendo

    Additional help resources can be found in the User Guide and FAQ available from the DataVault description page at link below. http://www.ascendo-inc.com/datavault/iphone/Password-Manager.html

    Best,
    Marc
    Ascendo

  9. akeanant

    Thank you, Great review!

  10. Marc

    We released version 4.3 of DataVault for iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch some time back. We corrected several of the issues raised in your comments, including;
    – Implemented synchronization with DataVault desktops using Mobile Me and other free WebDav servers (Box.net,Swissdisk.com, Gmx.net, MyDisk.se, MyDrive.ch) to simplify sync configuration, in addition to WiFi and other sync methods available in previous versions.
    – Implemented split-panel view on iPad. Displays list or tree of items on the left of screen and item details on the right.
    – Implemented settings to search field labels, field contents and memo field in addition to item name. User-defined for search performance optimization.
    – Added user-defined setting for case sensitive search.
    – Several improvements in notes field handling.

    See complete list of improvements in the release notes at link below.
    http://www.ascendo-inc.com/datavault/iphone/ReleaseNotes.html

    As always we welcome your comments.

    Best,
    Marc Bolh
    CEO Ascendo

  11. Jaime

    I have not figured out how to delete blank fields from a form. Does someone here know how, any advice is appreciated.

  12. Ricardo

    This software as of today (12/3/12) is a real piece of junk. NONE of the syncing options (I have iMac, iPad2, iPhone 4s) work. Dear Marc Bolh, if I need to ‘Please run desktop’ version of DataVault to complete a sync on an iPad using MobileMe, why the HECK do I need a mobile device in the first place. Create a sync with MobileMe that doesn’t need someone to start and run the desktop version. There are also some VERY BASIC user friendly/usability functions DataVault doesn’t have, like the ability to right-click a folder to open it in TREE view. Oh is it too much to ask to be able to edit multiple records in list view? Or how about even letting me edit a field in list view, instead I have to Show Details. This app painfully shows what happens when a developer tries to create a usable/enjoyable front end. I’d like my $20 back for the desktop version and the ipad/iphone versions. I hate to say this but it looks like I’m going back to using SplashData and get their mobile apps (more money, thank you very much). At least I NEVER had a problem syncing those apps together.

  13. Jim

    I agree with the “non-user” friendly way this app acts. I have read and tried the directions for hours and still can get this to sync from my mac to either my iPad or iPhone. “My Mac Name” never appears as an option to sync from. I read the earlier posts and my Mac is named, but again not an option to sync to. Hate that i wasted my money on this…..

  14. Brian

    Well We have been having a hard time trying to use the program on two desktop applications at the same time. If I am in the software making a change while a co-worker is in there, he doesn’t see the change until I log off and he logs out then gets back in. We originally thought we would be able to do this but I have been looking everywhere for an answer to this question. Is it possible to have to desktop applications running at the same time and make changes? IS there something we are doing wrong? So far we haven’t decided if we will switch to this or not we are still testing the software. We currently use Key-Pass and Have never had any problems.
    We haven’t even tried to sync to our Iphones yet so I’m sure this could lead to discontinue of this software if we have problems.

  15. Jan

    I use Datavault since years and I’m really happy with it. I use it on Blackberry, ipad, ipod, and win desktop version. Sync over wifi works great (always to the desktop as master).
    After several years of use, the only question I have is about security: I’ve not been able to find some independent security review about how strong the archive file encryption is. Especially in the case a trojan allows to “steal” a copy of the datavault.dat archive from my pc, how likely is it that a malicious hacker will be able to de-crypt over time the file and reach out my precious information? Anyone investigated this?

  16. Jim

    Is it true that the Windows desktop version has to be open in order to sync my iphone and ipad? If so I dont get that. Why?

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