Switch from Handy Safe (Android, iOS, OSX) to another password vault (e.g. 1Password)

By | 10. Mai 2015

For a long time Handy Safe was a reliable partner. A huge advantage was their availability for a lot of platforms (Symbian, Android, iOS, Windows and OSX). But now it seems that Epocware lost interest in that program: Handy Safe Desktop doesn’t work properly on OSX Yosemite, no support for iOS8 and new Android releases don’t support Epocwares sync mechanism over USB-drive file access. Most of the Handy Safe users are forced in the future to switch the software. The are a lot of free alternatives (e.g. ports of Keepass). But most of the user will miss stability and availability of synchronisation services on other operating systems. A good alternative for Windows / OSX / iOS and Android is 1Password. It is not free but they offer pleanty of features, very good support and synchronisation (OSX/iOS built-in, Android with 3rd party sync tools).

However it is quite difficult to transfer all the passwords to another software platform. The main idea is to backup the databases on the phones and transfer them to the desktop version of Handy Safe. Here you can export them to make them accessible in another software. A big obstacle is when you already use OSX Yosemite for the desktop version. Handy Safe is unbelievable unstable there.

This said the following guideline includes the steps:

  1. Backup Handy Safe passwords from an Android phone without USB-drive file access
  2. Import the backup database to Handy Safe Desktop under OSX Yosemite and export to a XML-file
  3. Convert the XML-file into a 1Password file and import it

1. Backup the password database from Android phone

The problem with newer Android smart phones is that they do not use the usb-drive feature to allow access to the local phone files anymore. The usb-drive access is vital for the sync with Handy Safe Desktop. You can overcome this problem by rooting your phone and installing an usb-drive app from Google Play – but there’s an easier solution: The main idea is to locate the database on the Android phone and copy it to a usb-stick. Then use the usb-stick to simulate  a phone and do the sync with Handy Safe Desktop. Finally export the database to a common file format.

In detail the following steps are necessary:

  • At first you have to take common usb-stick and format this stick on your PC with FAT32
  • Install a file manager on your phone. I recommend that you take “total commander” from “ghisler”.
  • Open the file manager and search for the folder “com.epocware.handysafe”. You may find it on your sdcard. It contains up to four files with the names “safe.XYZ”.
  • Now you have to transfer the wole folder to your PC. I recommend that you use the bluetooth transfer of “total commander” to copy the files to yur PC. Another way would be to purchase one of the plugins for WebDAV, FTP etc. but this may too advanced. Last ressort is to email the zipped folder – but use encryption in this case.
  • If you haven’t done it yet: plug in the stick and check if the stick was detected properly (somewhere a usb-stick device will appear).
  • Now copy the whole folder “com.epocware.handysafe” on the usb-stick. It is important that it is copied into the highest folder hierarchy and not into subfolders. There must be a folder with the name “com.epocware.handysafe” on your stick, containing all the database files.
  • Start Handy Safe Desktop on your PC and go to”Tools”->”synchronize”.
  • Handy Safe Desktop will detect the folder on the usb-stick and believe that it is your phone.
  • When you use Handy Safe Dekstop on OSX Yosemite the program will surely crash after this. Don’t panic the passwords are synced. Restart the program.
  • finished!

2. Import the backup database to Handy Safe Desktop and export

When you’ve made it to sync your passwords from your phone you will finally have to export them:

  • Go to “FIle”->”Export” and export our database. Make sure that you select the top most folder, e.g. “HANDY SAFE”, to transfer all passwords.
  • All the passwords will be transfered to an XML-File. You can access this file e.g. with MS Excel.
  • Beware: this file is not encrypted and contains all your passwords. You should savely erase the stick in the end and purge all versions of this XML-file from your PC.

3. Convert the XML-file into a 1Password file and import it

There is a very good tool to convert all kind of password files into a 1Password import file. If you want to import the Handy Safe XML you will have to use “the community supported converter”:

You can download this tool by:

  • Clicking “Download” on this page at https://guides.agilebits.com
  • Downloading it from https://www.dropbox.com/sh/a3skeey2zqimdlv/AAD87q6N_EJZ1YoPe5SA35a1a?dl=0
  • Downloading it from https://github.com/AgileBits/onepassword-utilities/

You will find a very good guideline in the PDF inside the zip-file.

In short:

  • Download the zip to your desktop
  • Rename the zip to “onepassword-utilities.zip”
  • Rename you XML-File to “pm_export.txt” and copy it also to your desktop
  • On OS X open a Terminal  and type:
    cd Desktop/onepassword-utilities/convert_to_1p
  • Then type:
    perl convert_to_1p4.pl handysafe -v ../../pm_export.txt

    On Yosemite replace the “perl” command with “perl5.16”. If you’re running e.g. OSX 10.8 you’ll have to upgrade to OSX Yosemite or download XCode to update the Perl version in your system or update Perl manually.

For further information see the Agilebits forum:

  • https://discussions.agilebits.com/discussion/30286/mrcs-convert-to-1password-utility/p8
  • https://discussions.agilebits.com/discussion/26712/transfering-data-for-handysafe-to-1password