RoboForm v6.3.96

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, June 2005
Published by: Siber Systems, Inc
Requires: Any Windows 98 through XP systems; Internet Explorer version 6.0 or later is required; all Windows Service Packs and security patches must be installed
MSRP: US$29.99 (RoboForm Pro), RoboForm Basic is free (ad-free too)

RoboForm is a password manager and Web/Internet form filler. It uses secure, encrypted storage methods to store your usernames and passwords, automatically fills in long registration and checkout forms, generates random passwords that are extremely difficult (if not totally impossible) for hackers to guess, provides a small editor for writing and securely storing notes, and also backs up your passwords. Using a system of Passcards, Identities and Safenotes, RoboForm provides drop-down lists from which you can choose various logins you've stored and various identities you set up to be associated with specific credit cards which you can click to automatically fill in forms of any kind online. I reviewed RoboForm over a 60 day period.

Installing and setting up RoboForm was a breeze on both of the computers I used: a Pentium 4/2.8GHz machine running Windows XP Professional and the Maxthon web browser, and a Dell Inspiron Pentium M notebook running Windows XP Pro and the Firefox web browser. I initially thought that testing and reviewing RoboForm would be a bit of a chore. I mean how many online logins and how much online shopping do I really see each week or month? Because RoboForm was more or less focusing my attention on that very question, I was quickly surprised at the range and volume of logins and shopping I was doing online.


I started the review process by entering all of the information RoboForm requested during the little setup routine. It gets quite personal, I'm warning you, so be prepared with all of the personal information you can find. You'll need to provide details on everything from date of birth to mortgage. The less you fill in, the harder it will be for RoboForm to fully and accurately fill in logins, checkout, application and other online forms. The message here is really that if you don't trust secure data storage software, you probably shouldn't be doing so much online.

My view is that if you're willing to use secure shopping sites and participate in web sites which require logins (for webmail, online e-mail accounts, online forums, etc.), sooner or later your storehouse of usernames, passwords, PINs, credit card information and personal information is likely to overwhelm whatever low-tech storage method you're using now. If you're already using a secure storage method (TurboPassword, SplashData and other top-notch utilities) and you find yourself doing a lot more business and shopping online, then taking the next step up to RoboForm is just part of the natural evolution of things. It also represents the most logical way to speed up access and centralize your secure personal data storage needs.

As I poked around online during the review period, I discovered that RoboForm could be partially fooled by some really thoughtless formatting. For example, the EzOutliner web site allows you to purchase their excellent outliner software online. The problem is that the first page of the purchasing process, which is run by e-commerce provider ClickBank, demands only two items: Country & State in one field and ZIP or Postal Code in another field. Why this odd setup? Who knows. RoboForm handled the rest of the form perfectly.

I actually used RoboForm about 16 times to either make a purchase online, join a mailing list or subscribe to a membership of some sort. Once the 'official' review period was over though, I decided to see if I could play a little game of "Stump the Chump" by throwing RoboForm at every single membership page and online application form I could find. For the record, I tried well over 200 different online forms of widely varying descriptions. I can report with great confidence that there are some really strange online store checkout pages. Canadian Tire (a huge hardware, housewares and auto supply chain in Canada) is particularly goofy and makes you fill in details such as a credit card nickname and an address nickname. It's pure idiocy. Who on earth thinks of this stuff? RoboForm handled the site reasonably well with the exception of the nickname fields. Some sites feature a Gift Card number entry field which RoboForm sometimes mistakes for a Credit Card number field. We noticed this sort of thing on the Office Depot site and a few others. The Dell checkout uses a funny address field with the street number in one box and the street name in the next. RoboForm handled the Dell form accurately, but kept putting the entire address in the street name field. We don't understand why Dell set things up this way.

Cons: Check all entries because it only takes a moment to do so. AutoSave would be more useful if it wasn't limited to forms with five text fields or less. RoboForm is not yet compatible with the Opera web browser, a bit of a disappointment and I encourage Siber Systems and Opera Software to get together on whatever compatibility issues need to be resolved. We'd also love to see Siber Systems come up with a Mac version—Apple users need RoboForm too.

Pros: Siber Systems has done a terrific job with this utility. Lots of installation language packs which appear to handle all of the top tier (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese) and a number of second tier languages (including simplified Chinese) quite well. RoboForm has broad compatibility with an enormous range of browsers, Internet Explorer-based (Internet Explorer itself, Maxthon, Avant Browser and dozens of others) and Gecko-based (Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape 7), as well as AOL and MSN. It really is a cut above the others because of its form-filling capabilities coupled with its secure storage of logins, passwords and anything else you can think of (bank PINs, credit card numbers, social security/social insurance numbers, private notes, etc., etc.). Existing IDs can be augmented using the AutoSave feature which can be set to automatically memorize specific forms, especially handy with new sites that you start to regularly patronize, and for sites which decide to suddenly change their formatting. The initial RoboForm setup asks some really personal questions, but you either trust the database encryption or you don't. I did and I'm not sorry because RoboForm appears to be at least as secure as anything I've ever reviewed. We encountered some genuinely peculiar online forms, some of the small, private online commerce sites in particular, which gave us fits just trying to figure out what to do, but RoboForm handled most of them with ease. RoboForm also came into its own when it came to registrations. Lots of sites want you to register and RoboForm shines here by providing secure username & password storage and what amounts to two-click access thereafter to automatically fill in the login fields. Uniquely, Siber Systems provides several mini-add-on $9.99 versions of RoboForm for a portable version which runs off a USB key and viewer-only versions for Palm OS, Pocket PC and Windows Mobile Edition. You need this. Highly recommended.





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