Upgrade from iPassword 5 to 7

edited September 2019 in Mac


TL;DR: I'm considering upgrading from the old v5 to v7, and since my setup is a bit odd I'm looking for info on what to expect. I'm also not sure of how the latest 1Password works today.

My current setup

I started using 1Password for Mac a long time ago, either with version 3 or 4, which I bought on the Mac App Store.

Years later, when version 6 came out, a feature I was relying on was removed [1] and I had to stay on version 5. I did so following suggestions provided by Agile Bits employees on this forum (one and two), which involved downloading the old 5.4.3 version from the archive. I have been using version 5 ever since, which has worked well for my use case.

I run 1Password v5 on several macs where I'm the only user (personal, work, etc), and I've always sync'ed the 1Password vaults between them using Dropbox.

When 1Password for iOS was released I bought it too. I've kept it up to date and I've been happily using ever since. It seems to sync without issues with the agilekeychain files in my Dropbox account.

My questions

  1. Compatibility. Would my vault be compatible with the new version? I remember reading a few years ago that the file format has changed, so now I wonder what's going to happen. Since the iOS app is working with it I suppose it's going to be fine, but I'd rather be sure. For example, would I be able to rollback? Is the upgrade a destructive process, in terms of vault storage? I'd still make a backup copy before upgrading, but it'd be good to know that I can rollback later if I prefer the old version, i.e. after modifying the vault with version 7.

  2. Features. I'm not sure about what today is part of the "core app" and what is part of what you call "1Password Account" or "1Password Membership". (What's the difference? How come those pages are not linked on your homepage? I found them through Google.) My confusion comes from the fact that you provide instructions to migrate to a 1Password Account (see first link) and also instructions to sync vaults without it, which make me think that getting the account is optional, but at the same time your pricing model seems tied to the creation of an account, and I can't see an option to just use the app without an account. (Also see question 4)
    I'm pretty sure I wouldn't use the web UI, because I prefer to just use the apps, accessing the local files. I am not sure I would use the proprietary sync either, if I can use iCloud, Dropbox, or another file-based system (see question 3). I also wouldn't share vaults with other people, but I would like if the other members of my family could use 1Password too. That would make the family plan interesting, but I don't understand if that plan is referring to the online account features or the normal app usage. In other words, is it possible today to just use the desktop mac (and iOS) application without all the sync and sharing features? What pricing plan would it be? (see also question 4)

  3. Syncronization. I appreciate that the builtin sync provided by the 1Password account (through the Agile Bits servers?) could be handy, but my current set up works quite well for me. What I really like, I suppose, is that it gives me decent control on the process, as they're just files. (Although I understand that since version 6 the app uses an encrypted sqlite file for all the vaults, and the encrypted agilekeychain files are just sync proxies.) Is the builtin proprietary sync mandatory? (this relates to question 2) Can I still choose to use Dropbox? In terms of security, where can I find more info on how the vaults are stored?

  4. Pricing: I was hoping to just get an updated version, and I would be happy to pay an update price, if there is one. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore, as now you're using a subscription model. I'm not against the monthly cost (I understand that it's a saner business model), but I'm not sure what I'd be getting out of it. As I stated above, I don't think I'd need the account (or membership?) features, and I just would like to use the app. This is what I find a bit confusing: based on what I've seen on the pages I linked above, that seems to be indeed possible (as getting an account is implied to be optional), but there is no pricing info for that, which makes me think that just getting the app would be free. So, can it be used for free?

Thank you for your help!

[1] See this old, long and closed thread for the details: https://discussions.agilebits.com/discussion/56271/individual-unlocking-of-secondary-vaults-gone-in-1password-6/p1.

1Password Version: 5.4.3
Extension Version: Not Provided
OS Version: 10.14.6
Sync Type: Dropbox


  • Corey_CCorey_C

    Team Member

    Hi there @tompave

    Very thorough questions here, let's get to tackling them. A quick bit of terminology before we start. "1Password Memberships" and "1Password Accounts" are interchangeable, they are both referring to our subscription offering (more on that later). Using 1Password "standalone" and a "standalone vault" means usage and vaults outside of and without a membership (ie what you are doing now).

    Would my vault be compatible with the new version?

    Yes and no. The old AgileKeychain (AGK) format has been retired in favour of the newer OPVault (OPV) format for standalone vaults. 1Password 7 can do a one-time import of AGK data, so you won't have to start from scratch.

    would I be able to rollback? Is the upgrade a destructive process, in terms of vault storage?

    The import will not destroy your AGK data, the file will still be there unless you choose to delete it. If by "rollback" you mean go back to 1Password 5, something I really do not recommend you do, going back to an AGK file is not really possible but also unnecessary as 1Password has supported the OPV format since 1Password 4. You can also revert back from membership to standalone at any time.

    Features. I'm not sure about what today is part of the "core app" and what is part of what you call "1Password Account" or "1Password Membership".

    The "core app" if you want to put it that way, is everything you have been using so far. Saving passwords, filling passwords. 1Password does that whether or not you choose to use it with a membership or with a standalone license.

    The rest of this is all intertwined, so I'm not going to separate it with quotes as much and rather just tackle it all. Although I will still quote periodically.

    There are two ways of using 1Password and, aside from the core functionality of saving passwords and filling passwords, which way you choose to use 1Password dictates pretty well everything else from pricing to syncing to certain features.

    The first way, and the recommended way, is the 1Password membership. As an overview, we introduced 1Password.com accounts in 2016 and they come with a number of benefits. These benefits include all of the 1Password apps on all platforms including all future updates (such as 1Password 7) for as long as your account is active, built-in automating syncing with no 3rd party services needed, special features such as Travel mode and more. You can read all about the benefits of a 1Password.com account at https://support.1password.com/explore/membership/.

    Memberships are subscription based. That one subscription, be it monthly or yearly gives you access to 1Password. No matter what version it is or what platform or device you are using, you have 1Password. No upgrade fees, no platform fees, no nothing. You have 1Password.

    Syncing is done automatically through our in house service built directly in the app. There is no setup needed, no maintenance needed, no external service needed, it just happens. A benefit to this is stability, reliability and our ability to provide support when something goes wrong. Don't get me wrong, iCloud and Dropbox are great services that I use every day. They are generalized sync services, though. They are built to sync everything, which is great, but 1Password data is rather particular and a purpose-built system suits it a lot more. They are also run by other companies which means that if something goes wrong, our ability to troubleshoot is hampered by the black box in the middle of it all that is the sync service. If you are using, say, Dropbox for syncing and something isn't syncing, it's hard to find out whether or not whether the issue lies with 1Password or with Dropbox. This issue multiplies with the number of different devices. platforms and vaults you are using and gets rather complicated. Instead, we have one unified system build specifically for 1Password and if something goes wrong, we can fix it. If need be, I could speak directly to the person who built it to see what was happening.

    Running the system from top to bottom also allows us to develop features that we never could do otherwise, such as Travel Mode as well as the extensive and highly configurable sharing that a Family Membership allows for.

    I'm pretty sure I wouldn't use the web UI, because I prefer to just use the apps, accessing the local files.

    The web UI is largely used for account administration. Everything else is done through the native apps accessing local files. Even when using a membership, your device is reading from an encrypted local cache. This is what allows you to access your data without an internet connection. A connection is only required for sync or when adding a new device for the first time. On a practical level, nothing would change in your day to day usage of 1Password. All the changes are on the back end and where your data is syncing.

    The other way to use 1Password is with a standalone license. This is what you have been doing it so far. You purchase a particular version of 1Password for a particular platform and you use it. If a new version is released, it may come with an upgrade cost, such as 1Password 7 does. If you need to use 1Password on a different platform, that also comes with a separate price.

    With a standalone license, syncing and backing up your data is entirely up to you. You need to set up and maintain both syncing and backups using either Dropbox or iCloud on each device you use for each vault that you use.

    In terms of security, where can I find more info on how the vaults are stored?

    As I mentioned earlier and as you discovered, vaults are stored as encrypted sqlite files on each device no matter how you sync your data.

    As for syncing, you can read about 1Password's security model over at https://support.1password.com/1password-security/ and if you want to take a deep dive into how our membership service works and how it secures your data, you can read our 1Password Security Design White Paper which goes into all the juicy details. It can get technical at times, but it's also the most in depth explanation on how things work.

    So, after all of this, what do you do? If all you want to do is just use 1Password and have it sync across your devices then, honestly, I would suggest a 1Password membership. It truly is the best way to use 1Password, from security, to usability. We built it to be that way. But this has gotten long. Hopefully this helps you and if you have questions that I have not covered, feel free to ask.

  • Hi @Corey_C, thank you so much for the long and very detailed message!

    What you wrote definitely answers my questions, and I guess it would be a valuable resource in general. May I suggest to publish the same content somewhere in your support site? Some of that info is either buried somewhere or not available -- at least, I couldn't find it!

  • Corey_CCorey_C

    Team Member


    You are most welcome, glad I could help clear things up. A lot of the stuff that I wrote there is in our knowledge base such as at the links I have included in my last post. A lot of the rest, though, isn't because we don't advertise the standalone option anymore. It's available for those who know what it is and seek it out, but, as I mentioned before, 1Password memberships are better for everyone. They are the way forward and, as such, they are what we provide to people looking at 1Password.

    We tried making everything I wrote above and information about both options available to people, but it actually ended up confusing more than it helped and leaving people unsure as to which they should buy. Then they would buy the wrong thing and waste their time trying to refund or have us credit them for the right thing. It wasn't helping anyone. Since the answer to "which one should I get" is always a 1Password membership, we eventually decided to have that be what we put out.

    That said, there is always room for improvement, I'll pass things along. If there is anything else I can do for you, such as assisting in the upgrade, please let me know. :)

  • Hello again,

    We tried making everything I wrote above and information about both options available to people (...) it actually ended up confusing more than it helped (...) we eventually decided to have that be what we put out.

    That makes sense @Corey_C, thanks for explaining it further.

    Anyway, I have been seriously considering the standalone license for 1Password 7 (I already own a standalone license for versions 4, 5 and 6), but your previous post convinced me to give the 1Password account/membership a try. :-)

    The three main reasons to upgrade for me are:

    1. The family plan. A couple of people in my household have got licenses for 1Password (still using the old 1Password 5 or 6), and I think it would be good to put people on a single plan to make things easier. I'd also like the idea that other younger family members could just start using it in the future.

    2. The proprietary agilebits-sync (not its official name, sorry, but that's how I've been referring to it for brevity), as it seems indeed simpler and faster. I find it quite compelling because I've been using Dropbox (agilekeychain files per vault) till now, and I would like to move away from it. I've also considered the other two alternatives: iCloud sync, which however seems to only work for the primary vault; and "folder-sync" with iCloud-drive as transport, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be supported on the iOS app (why, I wonder? Any hope to see it added in the future?)

    3. The increased security. I've read about how the secret key is used, and I'm happy to learn that you take the security of the data on the AgileBits servers so seriously. It definitely makes the proprietary agilebits-sync more compelling. From what I understand, it would be more secure than what I have today with Dropbox-sync, because I imagine that if my Dropbox account were compromised, the encrypted vaults (agilekeychain files) stored there would be only protected by my master passwords. (Even though I'm quite happy with my master passwords' entropies.)
      I have been wondering though if it really changes things locally. For example, let's say that my laptop gets stolen (and since I'm having a very unlucky day, it gets stolen while it's unlocked, so the disk-wide encryption won't help me). In that case I'd be concerned about the thieves trying to unlock the local vault data on the 1Password app. Since the secret-key is cached locally in the app, they'd still only need my master password. Well, there isn't much that can be done for that scenario without compromising the UX I suppose.

    So I've chosen a family plan, and I've been testing it for a couple of days. I have found some things that I quite like, but I also have a few questions and some feedback on things that don't work too smoothly. I am going to share them here in this thread to get some support on my questions, but also to see if my feedback makes sense and some issues could be addressed. I've got a lot of value from 1Password over the years, and I really want to keep using it!

    I'm going to post it all in a couple of separate comments to try to keep things organized. There is going to be a lot of details on a few different things though, so le me know if I should split what follows in different threads!

  • The upgrade experience

    TL;DR: importing my local vaults did not go well, and I had to spend quite some time figuring out how to fix some problems.

    With this comment I'm circling back to the opening post, where I asked what to expect and what could go wrong. I'm afraid that things didn't really go so smoothly here, and required a fair bit of troubleshooting on my part. I'm sharing it to provide suggestions and feedback on how to improve the experience, and in case it would help other people who get stuck were I did.

    • I signed up for a family account on 1password.com. I found the step-by-step wizard quite easy and I liked how it explained what was happening.
    • However, even though I really wanted to store the data in Europe, I created the account on 1password.com. Only later I discovered on your support pages that in order to migrate to Europe I'd have to create a new account. So I had to delete the just-created account (still empty) and restart from scratch on 1password.eu. What happened is that I naively assumed that there would a setting to select the region, although in hindsight I can understand why things work the way they do. Still, I really wished that this mechanic was explained better when creating an account. Perhaps you could add a step in the sign up wizard? ("you're creating an account in the US! Do you want another region?" - click yes, redirect to another domain, continue)
    • The web UI was functional and I liked how it guided me to download 1Password 7 for mac.
    • Before installing the new 1Password 7 app, I backed up everything. I added the new login details for the 1Password account to the old 1Password 5, created a new backup snapshot, and stored it in a different location. Did the same with the old agilekeychain files in Dropbox, and made a copy of ~/Library/Application Support/1Password 4/Data (I wondered why still the old v4 name). Then, mandatory Apple Time Machine backup.
    • After I installed 1Password 7, it automatically detected some vault data (I suppose in ~/Library/Application Support/1Password 4/Data). Apparently one of the old upgrades had left behind some old files from 2016, and the import wizard in fact told me it had found two vaults: one last edited a few minutes earlier (which was correct), and one last edited in 2016. Anyway, I chose the recent one and all my local vaults were imported into the new 1Password 7 app. It did present a pop up to ask me to sign up, and I closed it as the instructions say. I did have access to the app, although in read-only mode because I hadn't signed in with my new account yet.
    • At some point during this process I noticed that 1Password 5 still worked, as I could still use it to access the vaults. I found it odd and quite interesting. I wasn't really going to modify the vaults in any way during the transition between old and new version, so I wasn't too concerned about data corruption, but then I started digging. I found that 1Password 7 had started using ~/Library/Group\ Containers/2BUA8C4S2C.com.agilebits (which, according to Time Machine, had been sitting there unused since 2016!), and had populated .../2BUA8C4S2C.com.agilebits/Library/Application Support/1Password with the contents of the old ~/Library/Application Support/1Password 4 directory (plus some more stuff). It looked like this was the new location for the application data. I suppose that at this stage the vault data used by the old 1Password v5 and the new v7 had effectively become two independent copies, but I didn't test that assumption because I didn't want to complicate things and start to modify the vaults with test items. Still, it was very comforting to realize that the old data was still there.
    • After getting comfortable with the UI and changes in the mac app, and verifying that my vault data was all there, I opened the accounts settings of 1Password 7 and signed in with the new account, as I read in the support pages. What happened next was the first big surprise. The sign in was successful, and I was presented with this modal:

      So I thought that it was going to only copy the primary vault into the online account, and I'd do the cleanup later. That was ok, as it would give me the opportunity to check that everything was fine. However, that's not what happened. As I clicked "copy items", it did two unexpected things: 1) it copied every single vault, not just the primary one; and 2) it didn't copy the vaults and their items, but it moved them, meaning that the local vaults were completely gone. (When doing so, it also automatically disabled the preference "Advanced > Allow creation of vaults outside 1Password accounts") I found this very surprising and annoying, because the message in the UI was misleading and the support page was wrong. It's not just that I wanted to do things slowly, verify each vault migration, and then continue (I'm migrating a lot of stuff!), but it's also that this kind of unexpected and destructive actions make me distrust the new 1Password 7. Now I'm thinking "if it does this kind of unexpected things, what else should I be careful with?". Another reason is that I don't plan (yet?) to store all my vaults in the online account, and I want to keep some as local-vaults.

    • To try and revert what happened, I checked how to convert an account-vault back to a local-vault, and I realized that that was not really an option because it would have required me to re-add every document as an attachment to the original items (more on this later).

    • I ended up spending some time looking at what what going on on the file system (this is when I discovered the different data directories for the old 1Password 5 and new 1Password 7), and I managed to get back on track with these steps:

      • 1) Manually deleted the imported account-vaults from the 1Password app (I could verify in the web UI that they were removed there too).
      • 2) Removed the account from the 1Password 7 app. After this the 1Password 7 app was effectively empty, because its local data had gone (thankfully the good old 1Password 5 and its data were still there). It just has an empty primary local-vault.
      • 3) Time Machine to the rescue. I restored from the latest backup both data directories: the new ~/Library/Group\ Containers/2BUA8C4S2C.com.agilebits used by 1Password 7 and the old ~/Library/Application Support/1Password 4/Data used by 1Password 5 too, for good measure.
      • 4) Re-launched the 1Password 7 app, which automatically re-imported the local vaults from 1Password 5 (interestingly, this time it didn't ask me about the old 2016 data. I suppose it store my previous choice in some directory that I didn't restore).
    • With that done, I proceeded to sign in again with my 1Password account. Very interestingly, the app already knew about the domain, my email and the secret key. I suppose that they were stored in the macOS Keychain or in some other directory.

    • This time, I clicked "I'll copy items manually", which did what I expected.
  • account-vault vs local-vaults

    The main difference that I've noticed is that in 1Password 7 local-vaults still support the good old item attachments, but account-vaults use the new concept of "documents". I'm finding it a bit difficult to like the new system, because it turns out that over the years I have added a lot of attachments, and now that they have all become documents they cause a lot of clutter. They get in the way of browsing and searching (I can browse by category to exclude the documents, but they still pop in when searching), and I wonder if there is a way to disable this and just use attachments like it's possible in local-vaults. I honestly never care about an attachment on its own, nor do I need to search for an attachment without its parent item. I suppose that creating new "pure" documents would be useful, but I still find it odd to have all my hundreds of old attachments suddenly converted to documents.

  • Odd error messages

    In my tests I've invited myself as a family member, with a different email address. I wanted to check what's possible in terms of user management. I mentioned above, I've also had to delete an account and start from scratch. While doing so, I've noticed that quite a few error messages in the web UI start with the string "LegacyServerError", which I found a bit odd.

  • Corey_CCorey_C

    Team Member

    Hello @tompave

    Wow, thanks for your very detailed post. That's a lot of good feedback. It seems the main thing here is based on the import process and account vaults versus local vaults. But, first, a quick mention about the Secret Key. You are correct in that it doesn't really protect you in the case that someone were to get their hands on one of your devices, but it wasn't really designed to. That is why you must still maintain a complex and secure Master Password. The Secret Key is meant to help protect you from someone obtaining a copy of your encrypted data from outside, such as if they were somehow able to get it from our servers (not that such a thing is likely but we would prefer not to rely on that).

    Okay, now, back to the migration process. So, a few things. Data from standalone to membership vaults is, in fact, copied. The vaults are subsequently removed from the 1Password app, yes, and I'll get to why in a bit, but sync keychains and other local backups created by 1Password are not deleted and can be restored from there respective locations.

    You are right that it only mentions copying your Primary vault. That's because that's how it used to be, the migration tool could only handle the Primary vault. This has changed to being able to migrate multiple vaults at once and does so for reasons I'll get to in a bit. I'm not sure why the text on the tool hasn't been updated to reflect that. I'll pass it along, see what I can find out about that.

    So, why are the standalone vaults removed after migration? Well, that's because we cannot recommend at all that people use standalone vaults in conjunction with membership ones. That is the best way to lose, confuse, be locked out of or misplace data and is a prime source of all sorts of trouble. There are a number of reasons for this. For one, having a Primary vault (the main standalone vault) present causes that copy of 1Password to require the Master Password of that vault in order to unlock, rather than the one associated with your membership. That doesn't change the Master Password associated with your membership. This has led to countless instances of people forgetting their membership Master Password as they never had to use it. Then, something comes up and they do have to use it, such as a device crashes and they need to reconnect to their memberships and they can't because they don't know it. At best, this leaves them with a severely outdated set of data from their old sync source, at worst, this leaves them with nothing.

    Next, nothing within the standalone vaults syncs through your membership, is backed up through your membership or benefits from any of the features of membership. This can cause a whole lot of confusion. We get, again, lots of people contacting us wondering why their devices aren't syncing when they should be. 9 times out of 10, it's because there is some old standalone vault sitting around. In worse scenarios, you have multiple devices, all with different standalone vaults, as well as the membership ones, all with a different data set. So you have 5 or 6 different data sets across 3 different devices that have been diverged for a year and a half and you now have to consolidate all of that into a single, up to date set of data, manually. You can imagine that's not a very nice thing to have to do.

    Or, someone accidentally deletes or loses something from one or more of their entries. No problem, they can just use the item history feature that's part of their membership and be back up and running in no time. Except, no they can't because those items were in a standalone vault

    See what I mean? None of these, or the various other situations people find themselves in as a result of mixing standalone and membership vaults are something people want to find themselves in and they are pretty common. So, what is our solution? Try to remove as many ways for people to get themselves into that situation as possible. The migration tool used to ask if people wanted to remove their Primary vault after import but remember what I said earlier about more information often causing more harm and confusion than it helps? Removal is scary and people, not understanding what that is, clicked no and left themselves with old standalone vaults and lots of issues that resulted. So we stopped asking, as after a successful migration, that is always what you want to do.

    The issue is that not everyone is technically savvy or knowledgeable, but everyone needs to keep themselves secure online. So we need to design 1Password in a way that doesn't overwhelm the people who don't necessarily know what they are doing and keeps them on the happy path. Because the last thing anyone wants is to lose their data.

    So hopefully that helps explain things. Let me know if there is anything else I can do.

  • Hi @Corey_C, thank you for the explanation, that makes sense. I imagined that there was a reason why it behaves like this, and my comment is just about the misleading (outdated?) message and knowledge base instructions.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can do.

    Yes, I had a couple of questions:

    (...) "folder-sync" with iCloud-drive as transport, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be supported on the iOS app (why, I wonder? Any hope to see it added in the future?)


    (...) I wonder if there is a way to disable this [the "free" documents] and just use attachments like it's possible in local-vaults.

  • Corey_CCorey_C

    Team Member


    Ah, yes, let's get to that.

    iCloud sync has always been just for the Primary vault. That's simply one of its limitations. As for folder sync, that's never really been a thing for mobile devices since local, browsable storage is not something that has been available on iOS until fairly recently. I don't see it being added in the future. While we have and will continue to support our current standalone sync methods, 1Password membership sync really is the better way to go so we have no plans of adding any further standalone sync methods.

    Next, documents. Items are handled in an entirely different way in a 1Password membership than they are in standalone vaults. It's part of the background that allows memberships to do what they do so quickly. One of the consequences of that is that the same time of "attachment" thing simply does not work, hence the promotion of attachments to a full item type in Documents. It also allows Documents to be far more flexible and capable than what attachments were before them. We are still working to improve documents and item linking so stay tuned on that, there is more to come.

  • I see, thank you for the info.

    It's great to hear that documents are being improved :-)

  • Corey_CCorey_C

    Team Member

    You are most welcome, @tompave. :)

This discussion has been closed.