[Windows] Securely store your passwords, contacts, notes, and more with Data Guardian [Mac OS X, iOS]

2013-04-25_215324dotTech has a review on best free password manager for Windows, programs that not only securely store your passwords but other data too. If you have yet to find a program to you like using to securely store password and other data, Data Guardian is another program you could check out. Let’s see if it is worth your time.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Data Guardian bills itself as a “secure database application” you can use “for a variety of purposes”. However, the program is essentially a password manager who’s main job is to allow you to store usernames and passwords plus has the ability to store other types of information.

Take note Data Guardian has Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch) versions. We reviewed the Windows version for this article.

NOTE: Although the developer’s description of the program may make it sound like an encryption program, Data Guardian is not an encryption program. It is a password manager/data storage program.

Pros

  • Allows users to store login information: username, password, and URL with an associated note and name
  • In addition to login information, allows users to store information about contacts, license codes for programs you purchase, notes, and food recipes
  • You can customize data entry presets (the templates that allow you to store login, contacts, license codes, notes, and recipes information) to include other information not supported by default, and you can even save those customized presets for easy use later
  • Allows users to password protect (with a master password) and encrypt data with Blowfish 448-bit, a relatively secure encryption alogrthim
  • Data records can be sorted into “collections” (aka folders/categories)
  • 2013-04-25_222108Has a “Quick Browser” window that floats above all windows and allows you to easily copy login information, such as username, password, and URL, which can then be pasted wherever you want
  • You have the ability to easily toggle between hidden passwords (hidden behind asterisk) or passwords shown in plain-text
  • Has a built-in password generator and you have the ability to control what type of passwords are generated (e.g. letters, numbers, how many characters, etc.)
  • Can import data from CSV, TXT, vCard (VCF), PasswordWallet, Address Book (Mac OS X only), and Keychain (Mac OS X only)
  • Users can have multiple different databases, with each database containing different data
  • Has the ability to auto-lock the program if you are idle for X minutes; by default, it is set to auto-lock after 5 minutes of idle
  • Has the ability to auto-save changes made to database every X minutes
  • Has the ability to automatically clear Windows Clipboard (or Mac OS X clipboard) when Data Guardian is closed, database is closed, or after X minutes of idle time
  • Works on Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS
  • You can wirelessly sync your database with Data Guardian’s iOS app, if you have it installed

Cons

  • Doesn’t prompt you to setup a master password to password protect and encrypt your data; you need to remember to do it manually, otherwise your data can be accessed by anyone using your computer (you can do it via File -> Password Protection)
  • Has absolutely no browser integration, unless you are on Mac OS X and use Safari (it integrates with Keychain on Mac). If you want to use login information stored in Data Guardian, you can open the stored URL with a click of a button from within Data Guardian but you must copy + paste the username/password
    • Note: Even if you open a login URL from within Data Guardian, it won’t automatically fill in username and password — you still need to copy + paste
  • As a password/data manager, there should be some way for this program to remain always on because it is foreseeable that people will want to use it often. (Without being able to be always on, users will continually have to open it whenever they want to use it, which can get annoying.) Unfortunately, there is no such feature with Data Guardian; if you want it to stay on, you must simply leave it running in your taskbar — you cannot minimize to system tray.
  • You need to manually define your database as the “Home Database” if you want it to be the one that opens by default when you run Data Guardian; otherwise, if you don’t define a Home Database, then every time you run the program you will have to manually open your database, an annoying two-step and unnecessary process.
    • Note: I understand that people who want to use multiple databases may not want a database to be the Home Database but most people will want this feature. It would be better if developer made a database the Home Database and let users who don’t want a default Home Database disable it rather than make everyone manually set a Home Database.
  • Has the ability to automatically clear Windows Clipboard (or Clipboard on Mac OS X), but you must enable this feature manually — it isn’t enabled by default (it should be enabled by default considering that you must copy + paste your password from Data Gaurdian to logins)
  • Has auto-save feature but it is disabled by default; it should be enabled by default (you can enable it via Preferences)
  • Modifying the password generating template is very annoying; it isn’t very user-friendly and will require you to read the wiki on the developer’s website to learn how to format, if you want to change it
  • By default it is set to show all passwords in plain-text (i.e. not use asterisks), which could result in password theft via shoulder surfing. You should manually set it to “Hide All Passwords” (i.e. use asterisks) via “View” and then manually individually show passwords which you want to see instead of show all passwords.
  • Notes are plain-text only — no formatting or images
  • No offline help
  • Bills itself as a data manager but doesn’t really support many types of data; lacks preset templates for stuff like credit card numbers, form data, etc.
  • iOS app hasn’t been updated in almost 18 months
  • No Android app

Discussion

2013-04-25_220427The developer of Data Guardian markets the program as database program to store all types of data you want to keep secure. However, anyone that uses the program can clearly see the program is primarily a password manager that has the ability to store a select few other types of data. In fact, when you click the ‘Create’ button on the main program window, you are prompted to create a new login record; if you want to store any other type of record (i.e. notes, contacts, license codes, or recipes) then you must go to ‘Record’ -> ‘New Record’ and select the type of record you want.

That said, Data Guardian is nothing more than a subpar password manager. There are a variety of reasons Data Guardian is an ordinary password manager, all of which I have listed in the Cons section above. The main reason, however, is the fact that Data Guardian has no browser integration whatsoever (unless you are on Mac OS X — Data Guardian integrates with Safari… supposedly anyway, I didn’t test the Mac OS X version). This means you will be copying + pasting your usernames and/or passwords (or manually viewing them and typing them in, if you don’t want to copy and paste) whenever you want to login. Compare that to the excellent browser integration found in free password managers like LastPass, Dashlane, and Roboform; browser integration that allows you to log into websites with the click of a button — no copy + paste or manual entry involved.

Similarly, if you want to view Data Guardian as a secure database program for general purpose data entry, you can. After all, that is what the developer markets the program as. However, be warned — as ordinary as Data Guardian is in the role of password manager, it is worse as a database program. Why? Simply because there are so few types of data records Data Guardian can hold. Aside from recipes, contacts, license codes, and notes, Data Guardian supports no other types of data. No support for credit cards, form data you can use to easily fill out online forms, etc. I mean, yeah, you can manually customize Data Guardian to hold such information (it allows you to customize preset data record templates, allowing you to add or remove checkbox, date, e-mail address, text, selection menu, password, phone number, picture, and slider fields) but that isn’t the same as supporting those data types natively.

Best way I can describe Data Guardian is by saying: meh.

Conclusion and download link

Data Guardian promises a lot but delivers very little; it is a subpar password manager and even worse database program. You are more than welcome to grab this program if you want to (it has a 15-day trial you can use to test it, before you purchase), but I’d recommend staying away. Instead of getting Data Guardian, I suggest you check out dotTech’s review of best free password managers for Windows to learn of excellent and free password managers — some of which can store data other than just usernames/passwords.

Price: $19.95

Version reviewed: 3.0.6

Supported OS: Windows 2000 and later, Mac OS X 10.6 and later, iOS 3.0 and later

Download size: 11.7 MB (Windows)

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/37

Is it portable? No

Data Guardian homepage

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2 comments

  1. Ed

    First, $20 for software to secure your passwords with that many cons …… simply not worth it. Seems to me someone is just trying to make a quick buck.

    Do your homework people,
    A google search will produce much better results of password protection software much of them for free and with much better rates of encryption and options.