The best passwords are long, convoluted strings of characters and symbols, and are also difficult to remember. It gets even more challenging when juggling multiple passwords for different sites and services. This is where password managers come into play, and LastPass in particular is a flexible and handy option. It's also free to use, though the pro bono tier is about to get significantly less flexible for some users.
Dan DeMichele, vice president of product management at LastPass, announced in a blog post some upcoming changes to the free tier. The biggest one is a separation between 'computers' and 'mobile devices'. In just a few weeks, users of the free service will have to choose between one or the other, or upgrade to a monthly subscription to continue using LastPass across all devices.
The change goes into effect on March 16, 2021. Your first login on or after that date will dictate which tier you fall into. If you log into LastPass on a desktop or laptop, the password manager will set your active device type as computers, granting access to an unlimited number of devices with that category. Likewise, if you sign into the service on a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch, it will set your active device type as mobile.
"You’ll have three opportunities to switch your active device type to explore what’s right for you. Please note, that all of your devices sync automatically, so you’ll never lose access to anything stored in your vault or be locked out of your account, regardless of whether you use computer or mobile devices to access LastPass," DeMichele explains.
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LastPass added the ability to sync between any type of device in November 2016, just over a year after LogMeIn acquired the service. It was a welcome change, and especially useful now, as more people find themselves working from home and on the go. And that is part of the reason why LastPass is rolling things back to the way they were more than four years ago.
"This change is part of our increased focus on delivering future Premium product improvements as the security landscape continues to evolve in this new era of remote work," a LastPass spokesperson told Engadget.
The spokesperson went to say that the Premium tier will become more valuable over time as more features are added. They also noted that this change brings the free tier "in line with other leading password managers who have more limitations."
Put another way, LastPass feels justified in suddenly gimping its free service to bring it line with less useful alternatives. We understand the economics of nudging users to a paid tier, but why not focus wholly on making the the subscription service more appealing on its own merits, rather than pulling the rug out from under free users?
There is also one other change, though fortunately it is easier to digest—beginning May 17, 2021, email support will be limited to Premium and Families subscriptions.
To soften the blow, LastPass for a limited time is offered a reduced subscription rate to its Premium tier, which is now available for $2.25 per month (billed annually), down from its regular $3/month rate.