No, LastPass does not hold your passwords hostage – Review nerd

An image of LastPass running on a smartphone.
Maor_Winetrob / Shutterstock

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a lot of “news” articles and Reddit posts claiming that LastPass deliberately prevents free users from exporting their password box. And while the LastPass export process is a bit confusing, these claims are completely false. LastPass does not hold your data hostage.

All LastPass users can export their password box

LastPass on a smartphone.
Lastpass

For those who do not know, LastPass made significant changes to its free password management service on March 16, 2021. In recent years, free users could enjoy LastPass on all their devices. But free users now have to choose whether to use LastPass on the desktop or on their mobile device.

LastPass mobile users can redeem a free “switch” if they want to use LastPass on the desktop and vice versa. But LastPass only gives you three switches. Once you run out of switches, you can not jump between LastPass mobile and desktop without subscribing to a Premium membership level – and this seems to be the source of customer confusion.

See, the LastPass mobile app does not allow you to export passwords to another service. And if you’re a mobile user with no remaining contacts, then you can not access the LastPass browser extension to export your passwords.

But all LastPass users can export passwords from the LastPass website. This functionality was introduced on April 8, 2021, just a few weeks after LastPass changed how its free membership level works. (And yes, I have tested to confirm that this works. There is a complete guide at the bottom of this article!)

So why are LastPass customers confused?

LastPass on a smartphone
Maor_Winetrob / Shutterstock.com

The free version of LastPass is very confusing, and the company’s recent push for Premium memberships created a lot of mistrust in its user base. In other words, we should not be surprised that some people mistakenly accuse LastPass of holding their data hostage.

But why is this narrative bubbling up today, almost a full year after LastPass changed how its free level works?

Here’s the trend I noticed – journalists and Redditors keep pointing to a LastPass support thread full of mobile users who can’t export their information. Until January 11, moderators on this support thread simply applied extra shifts to users’ accounts instead of explaining that all LastPass users can export their passwords from the LastPass website. (This is of course an example of poor communication from LastPass.)

I also saw that many people complained about an error preventing export from the LastPass browser extension. Personally, I could not find a way to trigger this error, but LastPass confirmed that it is investigating the issue and is preparing to fix it.

Yes, we became aware of this recent bug and the team started investigating it. We are in the process of releasing a fix for all browser extension stores … from 4/8/21 free users should be able to export their data by logging in to lastpass.com and using the export feature from there.

LastPass desktop users who are experiencing browser extension issues can simply export their data from the LastPass site. That said, their confusion and frustration is understandable given all the misunderstood stories of LastPass locking user data.

How to export LastPass passwords with a free account

Andrew Heinzman

You do not need a Premium LastPass account to export your box to another service. All LastPass users can export their data from the LastPass website, even if they are free mobile users.

To export your data from the LastPass website:

  1. Visit the LastPass website and log in to your account.
  2. Click the “Advanced Settings” button at the bottom left of your screen.
  3. Select the “Export” option under the “Manage your box” heading.
  4. Click Export.
    • Free desktop users: If you are logged in to the LastPass browser extension, you will automatically download a CSV file containing your vault data.
    • Free mobile users: If you are a mobile user, LastPass will send you an email to confirm the export. Beware of that email, and go through the export process again. A new tab opens with your vault data, which you can copy and paste into another password manager.

That’s all it takes. If you end up with a CSV file, I strongly recommend discarding it after importing your information into 1PassWord, BitWarden, or another password manager. And if LastPass just gives you a lot of raw text instead of a proper CSV file, do not despair; you can copy and paste it into another password manager after following the import process.


Still having trouble exporting your LastPass box? Contact LastPass Support for assistance, or try repeating the export process in another browser. You should also try disabling any ad blockers or other extensions that may affect the export function of the LastPass site.

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