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password syncOh, passwords. Too hard to remember if they’re all different; too insecure if they’re all the same. Is there any relief?

As it turns out, there is. Dave once profiled KeePass for securing your online passwords Using Keepass to Secure Your Online Accounts Using Keepass to Secure Your Online Accounts Read More , and I recently mentioned KeePassX - Secure Password Management For Linux & OS X KeePassX - Secure Password Management For Linux & OS X Read More the Linux/Mac version of that same app, KeePassX.

Between these apps you can store passwords on your Windows, Linux, and Mac machines. Unfortunately, however, your files are stored on only one computer at a time.

Unless you throw in a little Dropbox magic.


I’ve previously discussed unique and interesting ways to use Dropbox 4 Unique and Cool Ways To Use Dropbox 4 Unique and Cool Ways To Use Dropbox Read More , pointing out that Dropbox can be used to make any application work on all your computers. Combine Dropbox and KeePass, for example, and your passwords are securely stored on every computer you own – regardless of the operating systems they use!

I use this method to sync passwords between my Ubuntu netbook, my iMac and my wife’s Windows laptop, for example. This makes it easy for us to remember the various passwords we need to use every day without compromising our security.

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Step 1: Install KeePass/KeePassX

password sync

Doesn’t sound very hard, does it? Windows users need simply to head over to the KeyPass download site and run the executable installer (or simply grab the portable app, depending on preference). Note that the classic version is preferable, if you plan to sync between Windows and another operating system.

Mac users need only to download KeePassX for Mac and then do the standard Mac installation dance: drag the icon to Applications, then drag to the dock from there.

Ubuntu users need only to click here to install KeePassX. Users of other Linux distributions need to check their package managers for “keepassx” or check out KeePassX’s download page for instructions.

Get your respective programs installed on your various computers. Done? Good; let’s move on.

Step 2: Set Up Dropbox

password synchronization

You now need to install Dropbox, assuming you don’t already use this great application. Just head over to Dropbox to get started. You’ll need to install a piece of software and create an account, but once you do you’ll be ready to sync files between all your computers, quickly and easily. Be sure to install Dropbox on all your computers, using the same account on each!

Do you prefer an alternative syncing program, such as SugarSync? Go right ahead and use that instead. Any program that can quickly synchronize your computers wherever you are will work perfectly for this.

Step 3: Create A Database In Your Dropbox

password synchronization

Now you can create your new KeyPass/KeyPassX database. Just fire up your KeePass version and create a new database in your Dropbox.

Just keep in mind: KeyPassX cannot open newer KeePass files. This means that if you want to sync your passwords from a Windows machine to a Linux or Mac one, you’ll need to make sure you’re using KeePass Classic on your Windows machine. Read the KeePassX FAQ for more information.

Also be sure to create the database in your Dropbox. Doing this ensures that your KeyPass data will sync between all your computers.

Once that’s done, go ahead and open the file with your other machines and you’ve got easy password syncing set up. Be sure to read Dave’s article about KeePass Using Keepass to Secure Your Online Accounts Using Keepass to Secure Your Online Accounts Read More to learn how to get the most out of this software, and enjoy!

Got any suggestions to improve on this guide, or alternative ways of achieving the same thing? Let us know in the comments below so everyone can gain from your knowledge. Also feel free to ask questions, because I love answering them.

  1. klu9
    September 22, 2010 at 1:38 am

    the second-to-last I looked at Lastpass, I got a "not compatible with your browser" message. Fail.

    The last time I looked at Lastpass, I still got a "not compatible with your browser" message. Fail. But it also said they now had some bookmarklets that could be used in other browsers. But no link. No search results. Looking around the site for 5 minutes, I still couldn't find them. Double fail.

    Keepass/KeepassX is a stand-alone app: no whining about browser-compatibility.

  2. klu9
    September 22, 2010 at 1:33 am

    yeah, this happens to me often (as my girlfriend and I use the same Keepass database, in our shared Dropbox folder).

    If the file is open somewhere else, you get a 'lock' message where the first option is "Open in Read-only mode", which is all I need 99% of the time anyways.

  3. Doc
    September 4, 2010 at 2:29 am

    You shouldn't lose data, either. Don't know about loose data floating around....

    I work only from Windows, so I just put a copy of Keepass Portable from portableapps.com in my DropBox with it.

  4. Coco2001
    September 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    You could also use (portable) TrueCrypt to create hidden volume in your dropbox where you could keep Keepass application and database.

    So, basically, everything can be in Dropbox, hidden and encrypted.

  5. Coco2001
    September 3, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    You could also use (portable) TrueCrypt to create hidden volume in your dropbox where you could keep Keepass application and database.

    So, basically, everything can be in Dropbox, hidden and encrypted.

  6. TLibasci
    September 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Keepass creates a lock file (which gets synced as well) when the db is open, so you should be prevented from making conflicting changes in multiple locations.

    This is even more x-platform that the article indicates - I use it to access passwords on several Windows boxes, my Linux box, and my Droid.

  7. TLibasci
    September 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Keepass creates a lock file (which gets synced as well) when the db is open, so you should be prevented from making conflicting changes in multiple locations.

    This is even more x-platform that the article indicates - I use it to access passwords on several Windows boxes, my Linux box, and my Droid.

  8. Rebeca
    September 3, 2010 at 9:29 am

    I've been using dropbox, keepass, and truecrypt without any issues (syncing or otherwise). Either way, dropbox saves previous versions of a file so if something were to go wrong, you could always look for the previous version of the file. -- I had been considering switching to lastpass, but since I found KeeFox (a firefox extension that works with keepass), I haven't made the jump. It'd be cool if there was a similar extension for Chrome. (Haven't checked though. Maybe there is.) Given that Chrome and Firefox both have extension syncing options, I'd have even less of a reason to switch.

    I use windows and ubuntu, but I prefer the latest version (2.x) of keepass, so I'm trying to find a way to make it work in ubuntu. Supposedly, it should work as long as you have the required version of mono and that's where things get a little bit tricky. I've got it half-working now, but if anyone has already made it work, let me know.

  9. Rebeca
    September 3, 2010 at 7:29 am

    I've been using dropbox, keepass, and truecrypt without any issues (syncing or otherwise). Either way, dropbox saves previous versions of a file so if something were to go wrong, you could always look for the previous version of the file. -- I had been considering switching to lastpass, but since I found KeeFox (a firefox extension that works with keepass), I haven't made the jump. It'd be cool if there was a similar extension for Chrome. (Haven't checked though. Maybe there is.) Given that Chrome and Firefox both have extension syncing options, I'd have even less of a reason to switch.

    I use windows and ubuntu, but I prefer the latest version (2.x) of keepass, so I'm trying to find a way to make it work in ubuntu. Supposedly, it should work as long as you have the required version of mono and that's where things get a little bit tricky. I've got it half-working now, but if anyone has already made it work, let me know.

  10. Aibek
    September 3, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for the article. I was looking to setup something like this between my Mac and Windows stations.

  11. Brendan James
    September 3, 2010 at 6:42 am

    I've used this system for the last 10 months (windows only) and not had a problem. Make sue you always hit save after making a new entry to the database.

    If you manage to simultaneously save two different versions of the file at the same time, dropbox has you covered. In theory, you shouldn't use loose data. See: http://www.dropbox.com/help/36

  12. irha
    September 3, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Are there issues with dropbox syncing the database while keepass is open? Also, I presume there is no way to resolve conflicts, since it is not keepass doing the sync, and the database would be binary, so do you have a "master" to change the passwords? Isn't it very restrictive?

    I myself switched to lastpass recently and happy to use from chrome and firefox on both windows and mac. I know they have mobile apps also, so I might end up buying them at some point (I currently use splashID for that purpose, but it doesn't have the flexibility to sync across multiple devices, nor give me the ability to fill-in website logins). It is essential to be able to sync individual records (even if there is no conflict resolution), and be able to fill login forms.

  13. Anonymous
    September 2, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Are there issues with dropbox syncing the database while keepass is open? Also, I presume there is no way to resolve conflicts, since it is not keepass doing the sync, and the database would be binary, so do you have a "master" to change the passwords? Isn't it very restrictive?

    I myself switched to lastpass recently and happy to use from chrome and firefox on both windows and mac. I know they have mobile apps also, so I might end up buying them at some point (I currently use splashID for that purpose, but it doesn't have the flexibility to sync across multiple devices, nor give me the ability to fill-in website logins). It is essential to be able to sync individual records (even if there is no conflict resolution), and be able to fill login forms.

    • Brendan James
      September 3, 2010 at 4:42 am

      I've used this system for the last 10 months (windows only) and not had a problem. Make sue you always hit save after making a new entry to the database.

      If you manage to simultaneously save two different versions of the file at the same time, dropbox has you covered. In theory, you shouldn't use loose data. See: http://www.dropbox.com/help/36

      • jhpot
        September 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm

        It's also good to remember that KeePass and KeePassX create a lock file when open, and Dropbox will sync that lock file, meaning it shouldn't be possible to create conflicted files if both users are online.

        • Anonymous
          September 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm

          That is very interesting to know (along with the dropbox conflict resolution behavior described above). Does this functionality go all the way to iPhone also? I know dropbox app is there for iPhone, but not sure how iKeePass (and other mobile apps) would work in conjunction.

        • jhpot
          September 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

          I must admit I've not played with this system on the phone. Can anyone confirm it works?

        • klu9
          September 21, 2010 at 11:33 pm

          yeah, this happens to me often (as my girlfriend and I use the same Keepass database, in our shared Dropbox folder).

          If the file is open somewhere else, you get a 'lock' message where the first option is "Open in Read-only mode", which is all I need 99% of the time anyways.

      • Doc
        September 4, 2010 at 12:29 am

        You shouldn't lose data, either. Don't know about loose data floating around....

        I work only from Windows, so I just put a copy of Keepass Portable from portableapps.com in my DropBox with it.

    • klu9
      September 21, 2010 at 11:38 pm

      the second-to-last I looked at Lastpass, I got a "not compatible with your browser" message. Fail.

      The last time I looked at Lastpass, I still got a "not compatible with your browser" message. Fail. But it also said they now had some bookmarklets that could be used in other browsers. But no link. No search results. Looking around the site for 5 minutes, I still couldn't find them. Double fail.

      Keepass/KeepassX is a stand-alone app: no whining about browser-compatibility.

      • Anonymous
        September 22, 2010 at 12:10 am

        What browser do you use? LastPass is compatible with all the top 4 browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari). While Keepass/X has no browser compatibility issues, it is not as functional as password managers that sit in the browser. You can't have autofill and password capture (and generation) work seamlessly.

  14. Lisa
    September 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Dropbox + Keepass(x) FTW! :D

  15. Pistol Pete
    September 2, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    clever.

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