Blur vs. LastPass

Blur-logo-from-abine-dot-comBlur vs. LastPass: a reader asks…

I just ran into a product called Blur which seems to be like LastPass but on steroids. It blocks tracking, provides email masking, and lots of other things. The visual appearance is very slick and user-friendly (like Venmo compared to PayPal). I’m just using the tracking block feature right now, but I’m curious what you all think of it, especially compared to LastPass.

Let me first say that Blur does a lot of different things, which means this is really an apples-to-oranges comparison. LastPass is a password manager program, and it does an excellent job at that function. Blur attempts to be not only a password manager (it only does a decent job at that), but also a tracking blocker (but there are other, great browser add-ons that do a better job, like Adblock Plus or Ghostery); a disposable email address generator (but not as good as Mailinator), a credit card masker (but does a worse job than Paypal, Google Wallet, or Apple Pay); an automatic form filler (heck, every web browser has that already); and more.

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The problem with all-in-one programs is that they are almost never great at more than any one thing, and the other things they do is usually sub-standard. As an example, our favorite internet security suite, Bitdefender does an outstanding job at protecting you from threats, but it has another feature, Bitdefender Wallet that does a ‘just-ok’ job at password management. Norton Internet Security is also great at protecting you from threats, but their Identity Safe is a pretty limited password manager. My point is that when it comes to the security of your digital life, you should use only the best tools for the job. I don’t think Blur is quite ready to offer the best tool in any of their functions. Partly it’s the rough implementation of this new product from Abine.com (combining older stand-alone programs like DoNotTrackMe and MaskMe). And partly it’s the nature of an ever-changing threat matrix that requires a software vendor to work hard to stay on top of the threats. This is impossible to do when the vendor has too many things to work on and that’s where I feel Blur is at right now. When they had separate products each one of those did a great job on their own. But Abine.com decided to roll them together along with some new stuff to create an ‘all-in-one’ solution to protect your digital life. I just don’t think it’s fully baked yet.

A few words about the rough implementation: If you’re brand-new to the internet, Blur would be pretty easy to integrate into your digital life. But most of us already have online online accounts everywhere, and changing them to capitalize on Blur’s features is either impossible or just a lot of work. For example, most online services won’t let you change your username, so the Masked Email (disposable email addresses) feature is not much use. And using it on a smartphone (iPhone or Android) isn’t a great experience, you have to use Blur’s web browser. I’m assuming they’ll soon figure out how to get it to work with the Chrome and Safari smartphone browsers, but it’s not there yet. Perusing the support boards, I see a lot of people are having trouble using the program and find Blur to be invasive and have too many annoying advertising popups, among other complaints.

LastPass logo from lastpass.comAll that said, after working with Blur for a few days, I’m sticking with LastPass for password management. And I don’t find any of Blur’s other features to be so compelling to make me want to switch from what I’m doing now. Please let me know in the comments if you have a better experience with Blur, but I don’t think it’s quite ready for prime-time.


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14 Comments

  1. am having ‘teething’ problems with lastpass premium (their support is mostly boilerplate, and the interface needs help) and came here to see what you had to say about blur/donottrack/abine (their branding is terrible) password manager integration

    • You may want to give 1Password a spin and see if it’s any better for you. For me, LastPass gave the best value (lower price than 1Password for real-world use, about the same level of capability). I haven’t changed my viewpoint on Blur. LastPass does have some ugly bits of interface and operation, but I think all the leading password managers have similar issues.

  2. Sharif Bari

    Great write up. Thanks for helping make an informed decision.

  3. Thank you for the concise comparison. Has Blur changed for the better since February 2015?

    • Sorry, I haven’t given Blur another test-drive to see if it has improved. I do find it a bit disingenuous of Abina.com to say they are safer than LastPass because they don’t store your passwords so there’s nothing at risk with them. In fact, Blur lets you store your passwords on any cloud-based file storage solution (like Dropbox), and if you don’t do that you lose all the cross-device syncing benefit. And Blur is still more expensive than LastPass ($39/yr versus $12/yr). I’ll take another look in the coming months and update this article for you. But for now, I’m sticking with LastPass.

  4. I’ve been using Blur for masked email for 1-2 years now and it works great for me. I would not use Mailinator in the same way I have used Blur. They don’t really compare. Blur offers private masked email while Mailinator offers publicly viewable email.

    • Thanks for your comment Ben. Blur is great but I think you’re misinterpreting Mailinator. Both Blur and Mailinator do essentially the same thing in the email arena: let you create an email address that you can give out instead of your personal email address. Mail sent to that address gets forwarded privately to your email account until you turn it off. It’s not ‘publicly viewable email’.

  5. Publicly Private

    I think ben is saying something important. If for instance, you said your email was happy@mailinator.com then even tho they might send you the forwarded message to your private email, they would still make it publicly view-able for anybody to look up happy@mailinator.com and see that private message. You don’t wish anybody else to see that message because it was meant for YOU and not some tom dick harry just curious what was up with happy@mailinator.com please can you let me know if Blur also makes the throw away emails publicly view-able or just for my eyes only? Thanks

    • Ok my bad, Ben is right. Blur uses a standard email forwarding service, it doesn’t store your email like a regular email account – it simply forwards email sent to an email address (you set up) to your email account. At any time you can stop the auto-forwarding. So Blur doesn’t have publicly viewable emails.

      I was wrong about Mailinator, you’re right that it doesn’t do the same thing. So the use case for Mailinator is different than for an email forwarding service. Mailinator is not designed for use where you’d expect a ‘private message’ (like online shopping receipts). It’s only for situations where you have no business relationship and aren’t going to get anything but spam.

      As you and Ben said, Mailinator addresses are publicly viewable. But someone wanting to would have to a) have a Mailinator account and b) know the email address you used. Messages auto-delete after 4 hours. I wouldn’t suggest anyone use Mailinator for any situation where there might be private information sent to you.

  6. I came across Blur when searching for a feature as for password management.
    Actually I was surprised that the program also achieves the same goal as LastPass.
    Being very happy with the services of LastPass I was not tempted to change my habits.
    I left Blur installed, only to verify if it would not interfere with other programs. So far it didn’t for a month.

    I agree with Chris Gardner analysis. I’m suspicious about all in one programs and I’m very glad to read his conclusions confirming what I suspected. I will continue to subscribe to best individual piece of software for each specialized purpose.

  7. Please give BLUR another ‘pass’ ( ; – – – it has incorporated some features in more fluid ways. I like the all-in-one simplicity. Also, i have used (and still use Premium) LastPass for many years, but they have always (and still) had LOUSY tech support. In (maybe 10) incompatibilities, or downright error conditions, over the years, they consistently misread the bug report, and tell you do things (that you have just reported that you already did) or, like Microsoft user support; backup and re-install the product, or some such idiocy. Not saying LastPass is useless, but it is still clunky after all these years. My ‘re-up’ comes in March – i will not continue. . . . .
    thanks for your column

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