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Comparison of RoboForm Pro, Norton Confidential, and Password Manager XP

written by: Ian Jirka•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 1/10/2011

This guide compares features of the following three programs: RoboForm Pro, Norton Confidential, and Password Manager XP. The primary focus of this comparison is on password management functionality, though other features in each package are considered in final recommendations.

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    Comparing All Three Together: A First Look

    This guide compares features of the following three programs: RoboForm Pro, Norton Confidential, and Password Manager XP. The primary focus of this comparison is on password management functionality, though other features in each package are considered in final recommendations.

    While each of the three applications performs password management, they each provide a unique set of additional functionality. RoboForm provides password management and form-fill capabilities. It also provides support for storage of text data in what it calls SafeNotes. Password Manager XP provides an extensible storage database that allows you to define new types of data to store in it. In addition, it supports enterprise features, such as centralized logging and shared password databases. Norton Confidential is a holistic solution designed to ensure that the entire browsing experience is safe. In addition to password management, Norton Confidential provides monitoring of anti-virus software, monitoring for phishing websites, and monitoring for what Norton calls “CrimeWare"- applications that attempt to steal data you enter into the web browser. One notable missing feature is the ability to store and automatically enter data other than passwords.

    Functionality breaks down into specific areas:

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    Password Management

    • Password Manager XP: Automatic capture and insertion of passwords works well. Its GUI field mapper ensures you can enter your password in any web form, regardless of how it is built.

    • RoboForm Pro: Automatic capture and insertion of passwords works well.

    • Norton Confidential: Unfortunately, reliability issues plagued Norton Confidential. It would not reliably detect passwords entered into web forms, and would either take a long time to enter passwords automatically or fail to do so entirely.

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    Form Fill

    • Password Manager XP: Has a great form fill capability in its GUI mapping; any field can be mapped into any web form. However, it does not reliably automatically detect fields to enter data into, so mapping must frequently be done manually. The mapping is saved, which helps if you return to the same website; however, with most websites remembering data for you this is less of an advantage.

    • RoboForm Pro: Form fill generally works without any significant work on the user’s part. On many e-commerce sites, RoboForm can detect fields on the form and automatically populate expected data.

    • Norton Confidential: No support.

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    Extensibility

    • Password Manager XP: Its customizable database is one of the most extensible, allowing you to define your own record types for storage. However, doing so takes some work and the lack of built-in record types makes it take a while to get up and running.

    • RoboForm Pro: Provides many built-in fields, and custom fields can be defined.

    • Norton Confidential: No support

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    Security

    • Password Manager XP: Security is sufficient for home use. For business users, the current design may not be appropriate, depending on the sensitivity of the data stored in the database. The application design follows an “open with full access and then restrict to a subset of access" model, which means that any user with access to the database can extract any data from the database (since they can decrypt it), if they go outside the tool.

    • RoboForm Pro: Security is sufficient for home use. Business users may need a stronger guarantee on the quality of the encryption algorithm implementation used, depending on the sensitivity of stored data.

    • Norton Confidential: Security is sufficient for home and business use, based on the reputation of Symantec.

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    Additional Features

    • Password Manager XP: There is company support for controlling the product through Group Policy, and support for shared password databases and auditing of usage.

    • RoboForm Pro: There is support for a supervisor/employee model, where employees can use stored passwords and form data, but not view it directly.

    • Norton Confidential: Anti-virus software monitoring, phishing website detection, and CrimeWare detection and blocking.

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    Which One Wins?

    The most disappointing product is Norton Confidential. It had great potential to be an easy-to-use browsing security application, but unfortunately core password-management functionality did not work reliably. As such, I cannot recommend this program until those issues are addressed. For non-power users, RoboForm is definitely the way to go. It has great help and support, is easy to use, and just works in the majority of cases. For power users, Password Manager XP gives power and flexibility, at the cost of being more difficult to use and having to spend time up front configuring it for use.