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We’ve added an FAQ section and details about BitWarden’s new emergency access feature. Our picks have not changed.
Everyone should be using a password manager. It’s the most important thing you can do—alongside two-factor authentication—to keep your online data safe. We’ve evaluated dozens of paid and free password managers and tested four, and we think 1Password offers the best combination of features, compatibility, security, and ease of use. You don’t have to pay for a good password manager, but if you can, 1Password is worth the $36 per year.
1Password has easy-to-use, polished apps that will work on Windows PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, iPhones, iPads, Android devices, and the major Web browsers. Its Watchtower feature helps you identify and change weak, reused, or compromised passwords, and 1Password walks you through correcting these problems in clear, easy-to-follow language. 1Password protects your passwords with strong encryption and good security practices, and although the default security setting requires you to reenter your master password or unlock the app with your fingerprint or face more often than most people will want to put up with, that’s an easy setting to change.
The free version of Bitwarden gets the basics right and doesn’t cost a thing, but it lacks a few features that make 1Password such a standout option, including password checkups, breach reports, and 1 GB of encrypted storage. Plus, Bitwarden isn’t as polished overall and lacks the in-app guidance of 1Password, which makes it harder for beginners to get the hang of. But the free version of Bitwarden offers the core features you need in a password manager, including the ability to sync as many passwords as you want between as many devices as you own, support for software two-factor authentication, and sharing between two people with separate logins. Bitwarden works on the same devices as 1Password, so you can use it with any computer, phone, tablet, or browser. You can easily upgrade to Bitwarden Premium for $10 a year, or export your passwords to 1Password, if you do want paid features later.
Regardless of the password manager you use, it’s important to protect your data with a strong master password—we have advice for how to do that below.
Why you should trust us
Wirecutter has been testing and recommending password managers since
Andrew Cunningham spent more than six years testing, reviewing, and otherwise writing about computers, phones, operating systems, apps, and other gadgets for AnandTech and Ars Technica, and has done the same at Wirecutter since He has been building, upgrading, and fixing PCs for more than 15 years, and he spent five of those years in IT departments buying and repairing laptops and desktops as well as helping people buy the best hardware and software for their needs.
Thorin Klosowski has spent a decade writing about technology, with a focus on software for many of those years. He has written about privacy and security for the bulk of that time and tested countless password managers.
Why you need a password manager
Passwords are as annoying as they are necessary, and a good password manager will keep you secure while making it easier to juggle the sheer number of passwords you need to be a person on the Internet. It’s one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself online, aside from using two-factor authentication and keeping your operating system and Web browser up to date. If any of your passwords are weak and easy to guess, if you reuse any of your passwords across multiple sites, or if the sites you use are ever hacked and your account is compromised, you risk losing access to your accounts and your data. In fact, if you reuse passwords, chances are good that your password is already out there on an easy-to-find database. You can even check to see if your email address or password has been involved in a data breach.
Password managers generate strong new passwords when you create accounts or change a password, and they store all of your passwords—and, in many cases, your credit card numbers, addresses, bank accounts, and other information—in one place, protecting them with a single strong master password. If you remember your master password, your password manager can remember everything else, filling in your username and password for you whenever you log in to a site on your phone or computer.
Most Web browsers already offer to save and auto-fill your passwords for you, and browsers such as Chrome and Safari even offer to generate strong passwords when you need them. Using Google Smart Lock or Apple's Keychain is certainly better than reusing weak passwords. But password managers go above and beyond—a good one alerts you to weak and reused passwords, lets you know when you should change a password because a service you use has been hacked, and allows for the sharing of passwords and other information between family members and friends. It should also have good mobile apps so you can easily use your passwords on your iOS and Android devices, and desktop apps that work outside your browser so you can use it in other apps or to store software product keys and other information.
How we picked
Most password managers share the same basic features—they generate and store passwords. For this guide, we're focusing on the password managers that work best for individuals, rather than ones that can be deployed and managed by businesses. To separate the great ones from the merely okay ones, we used the following criteria:
- Good protection for your passwords: You’re trusting your password manager with your entire digital existence, and your password manager should store your data securely. A good password manager needs to use strong encryption to protect your data on your computer, on your password manager’s server, and when your data is moving between the two. We also checked to see whether each of the password managers we tested had been subjected to a third-party security audit.
- Unlimited password storage: Any paid password manager should be able to store an unlimited number of passwords and other records, and enough free ones offer unlimited storage that you shouldn’t settle for less.
- Sync between devices (and no limits on the number of devices you can use): You probably have more than one device that you use every day, between your home computer, your work computer, your phone, and your laptop; a good password manager should offer cloud syncing so that your passwords are accessible anywhere on an unlimited number of devices.
- Compatibility: A great password manager runs on just about anything, regardless of what hardware and software you and your family use. We looked at three different kinds of compatibility.
- Desktop and laptop compatibility: A password manager should have a Windows and macOS app you can use to browse, add, and edit your information. We noted Linux compatibility but didn’t require it. Support for ChromeOS is generally covered by Chrome browser extensions.
- Web browser compatibility: We tested only those password managers that offered browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari at a bare minimum; these are the three most commonly used browsers in North America as of this writing. The extensions are responsible for auto-filling passwords and other forms, as well as for generating and saving new passwords when you change one or make a new account. We checked for (but didn’t require) compatibility with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Edge browsers, as well as Opera.
- iOS and Android compatibility: A password manager should have apps for both iOS and Android that are easy to use and capable of auto-filling passwords in browser windows and within apps. The apps should walk you through the process of setting them up and giving them the permissions they need to work.
- Ease of setup and use: A password manager should make it easy to transition from using browser-based password autofill (or nothing at all), and to set up all the apps and browser extensions required. And once you’ve set your password manager up, it should be easy (not annoying) to use when you need it.
- Tools to fix your security problems: Once your data is in your password manager, it should be able to identify weak, reused, and compromised passwords, and it should give you clear and easy-to-follow directions for changing them.
- Support for biometric logins: If your phone, tablet, or laptop has a fingerprint reader or face-scanning camera, you should be able to unlock your password manager with that, rather than a password or PIN, for convenience’s sake.
- Price: Paid password managers usually cost between $20 and $60 per year for one person to use, though decent ones are available for free and top-tier options like 1Password cost a little less than $40 a year. Password managers that offer family plans usually cover four or five people for another dollar or two per month, so they’re a good deal even if your family has only two people. Although password managers usually advertise a monthly subscription price, those prices are typically billed yearly.
- Password sharing: A good password manager should make it easy to securely share login data with someone else you trust, for accounts that multiple people may need to be able to access—for example, sites for paying your family’s bills, or shared email and social media accounts for a small business. This feature is common in paid password managers but rare in free ones.
- Added features: Your password manager should be, first and foremost, a good password manager. But the best ones also offer other, password-adjacent tools for improving your security, such as a generator for two-factor authentication codes or secure online storage for passport scans and other sensitive files. Most of them also offer to auto-fill non-password things like contact information and credit card numbers.
How we tested
After searching and consulting sites such as PCMag and CNET, we assembled a list of around 40 free and paid password managers. We dismissed most of them because they weren’t compatible with all of the operating systems and browsers we wanted. We also disqualified quite a few free options that imposed limits on the number of devices you could use or the number of passwords you could store.
Of the eight password managers that survived this first round, only four met all of our other criteria: 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, and Bitwarden. We installed each of these password managers on a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad, and an Android phone and used them for at least a week; for LastPass and Bitwarden, we noted the differences between their free and paid tiers. We also read other reviews of password managers from sites such as Tom’s Guide and Wired.
The best password manager: 1Password
1Password offers the best combination of compatibility, ease of use, features, and price of any paid password manager we tested. It has polished apps that work on just about any computer, tablet, phone, or Web browser. Its Watchtower feature helps you identify and change weak, reused, or compromised passwords, and 1Password walks you through correcting those problems in clear, easy-to-follow language. 1Password protects your passwords with strong encryption and good security practices, and although the default security setting locks 1Password more frequently than we think most people will want to put up with, that’s an easy setting to change. 1Password costs $36 a year for individuals or $60 a year for families of two to five—on the high end of average, for paid password managers—though it does offer free accounts for politicians and activists as well as journalists.
1Password is compatible with all the operating systems and browsers that most people use: Standalone apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android all allow you to view and edit all the items in your vault, and the iOS and Android apps can replace those operating systems’ more rudimentary password-saving features (though you’ll need to use the desktop apps or the Web interface at alloverlimo.us to view and act on security suggestions). 1Password’s desktop apps for Windows and Mac are also far superior to Bitwarden’s, which require the Web app for features beyond password generation and search.
1Password’s browser support is comprehensive too, if a bit confusing. The normal 1Password browser extension works with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Microsoft Edge but requires the 1Password 7 app to be installed on your computer for you to use it.1 But if you use Chrome (or Chrome OS), Firefox, or Opera, you can instead download 1Password X, which does the same things but doesn’t require the desktop app to be installed.
1Password’s user interface is otherwise easy to understand, even for people who are new to a password manager, and you can quickly view and change saved passwords and other information. Your default “vault” stores login information, credit card numbers, and data for auto-filling forms. And if sorting items alphabetically or by tag isn’t good enough, you can create any number of vaults to organize your information (if you want to store logins for your personal accounts and work accounts separately, for example). This is especially important for 1Password Families or Business accounts, where you might want to share the contents of one vault with other 1Password users while keeping other vaults private.
1Password’s Watchtower feature—which is both a dedicated section of the app and a collective name for all the ways in which 1Password tries to protect your logins—identifies weak and reused passwords, old passwords, passwords for websites that don’t use the secure HTTPS protocol, passwords for sites that have been hacked, passwords that are about to expire, and accounts for which two-factor authentication is available but has not been enabled.2 In all cases, the app offers straightforward directions for solving the problem.
All versions of 1Password support logging in with your face or fingerprint, depending on what biometric authentication options your computer, phone, or tablet offers. We recommend using this feature on iOS and Android especially, where typing in a long master password multiple times a day will cost you time and annoy you. Both apps can replace iOS and Android’s built-in password autofill features, and can work in apps as well as on websites.
|Price (one person)||Family plan|
|1Password||$36/year||$60/year for up to five people|
|LastPass Premium||$36/year||$48/year for up to six people|
|Dashlane Premium||$60/year||$90/year for up to five people|
|Bitwarden Premium||$10/year||It’s complicated|
|RoboForm Everywhere||$24/year||$48/year for up to five people|
|Enpass Premium||$12 each for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android||None|
|Sticky Password Premium||$30/year||$30/year per person|
(“Premium for teams” plan)
Prices current as of October 19, Taxes not included.
1Password costs $36 a year for one person or $60 a year for families (regardless of whether your family has as few as two or as many as five people); it’s more expensive than some of our other finalists. LastPass Premium costs the same amount for individuals but only $48 for families of up to six. Bitwarden’s free plan has sharing with one other person built in, but if you want to share with more people than that, you need to sign up for a family plan for $12 a year. The family plan is different from Bitwarden’s premium plan, though, which costs $10 a year per person and most notably adds password-strength checkups and monitoring.
When you set up a 1Password family plan, you put your passwords and other information in your shared vault instead of your personal vault to give everyone else on your plan access. “Family organizers,” including the 1Password account that created your family’s account plus anyone they designate as a “family organizer,” can recover the accounts of other family members if they forget their master password or secret key, which is useful for kids or less technically inclined folks.
1Password includes a few features for the privacy-conscious. By default, all of your information is backed up onto 1Password’s servers; it’s protected under end-to-end bit AES encryption, which means that no one but you can read it on 1Password’s servers (including 1Password employees) or when the data is in transit between 1Password’s servers and your device. (For details, you can read more about 1Password’s security model.) This is the option most people should take. But it’s also possible to create separate vaults that 1Password stores on your device locally with the same encryption, keeping your data off 1Password’s servers entirely.
“Family organizers” can recover the accounts of other family members if they forget their master password or secret key, which is useful for kids or less technically inclined folks.
If you prefer to use a local vault and you want to avoid 1Password’s subscription fees, standalone licenses are available for macOS and Windows. You can get them by downloading and opening the 1Password app, clicking Purchase 1Password in the menu, and clicking the tiny Need a license? hyperlink in the window that pops up. But most people shouldn’t bother with this—a standalone 1Password license for Windows or Mac costs $50, and you can’t use a Windows license to run the Mac version of 1Password or vice versa. You can’t use the more powerful 1Password X extension in Firefox or Chrome, and if (or when) the next major version of 1Password is released, you’d have to buy a new license all over again (whereas subscribers can upgrade automatically).
How to Get the Most Out of 1Password
Everyone should use a password manager. Our expert walks you through how to set up and take advantage of the features in our favorite, 1Password.
Other handy 1Password features include 1 GB of secure online storage for sensitive files, such as scans of sensitive documents, and Travel Mode, which allows you to temporarily remove selected vaults from your device if you’re worried about protecting your data while traveling abroad or crossing borders. 1Password integrates with Privacy, a service for creating one-time use credit cards, which is useful when shopping online at sites you’re not confident in or for testing out subscription services you don’t want to auto-renew.
No password manager has a foolproof introduction that teaches you everything you need to know, but 1Password’s extensive support articles—which usually have large screenshots or video tutorials—make it a solid choice for people new to password managers. It’s easier to learn than most free options, including Bitwarden, which doesn’t walk you through the setup process or include visuals in its how-to guides.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
By default, the 1Password app and browser extension lock your account after your computer is idle for 10 minutes. In the desktop and mobile apps, this isn’t a huge deal, since you can use your fingerprint or face to unlock the app (if your device supports that) without typing your master password in again. But because the browser extensions require you to type your master password every time, we quickly grew annoyed with the default setting; other password managers we tested typically lock their browser extensions when the browser is closed, without tying the action to a specific time limit. We recommend using 1Password’s settings to increase the time limit from 10 minutes to a more forgiving time interval such as an hour or two, though you can set it to any interval you like—the app doesn’t have a limit. It’s good security for a password manager to lock itself periodically, but people also don’t want to use something that they find more irritating than helpful.
You can use a 1Password Families account to recover accounts for other family members, but individual accounts can’t be recovered (or accessed by others in the case of an emergency) without a manually printed Emergency Kit that includes all of their account details. If you need to get into someone’s 1Password account, you either need to be a “family organizer” or hope that they put their Emergency Kit printout in the fireproof safe.
And although 1Password offers a day trial, it doesn’t have a free version that you can use indefinitely. 1Password’s features are worth paying for, but Bitwarden and LastPass both show that it’s possible to offer a free password manager that leaves off a few features without feeling too restrictive.
The best free password manager: Bitwarden
If you don’t want to pay for a password manager, if the added features in 1Password aren’t appealing to you, or if you’d like to self-host your password manager to avoid putting data online, use Bitwarden. The free version of Bitwarden is missing a few features of 1Password, including comprehensive password checkups, security-key support, and 1 GB of encrypted storage. But it has all the important features of a password manager: You can sync with as many devices as you want and store unlimited passwords, and the free account allows you to share password collections with one other person. And Bitwarden has the same wide-ranging compatibility as 1Password, so you can use it with just about any device. Bitwarden’s security protocol is similar to 1Password’s, so even if Bitwarden’s servers are compromised, your passwords are safe. Bitwarden doesn’t participate in the same kind of repeated security audits as 1Password, but is still audited every other year. If you’ve never used a password manager before, Bitwarden doesn’t teach you the basics as well as 1Password, nor does it provide as much colorful, easy-to-read documentation.
|Password limits||Cloud sync/|
|Password sharing||Weak password auditing|
|Bitwarden Free||None||Yes||Sharing for two users||No|
|LastPass Free||None||Yes||Share individual passwords with one other account||Yes|
|Dashlane Free||50 passwords||No||Share with five accounts||Yes|
Note: 1Password doesn’t offer a free tier beyond its day trial.
Bitwarden supports the same operating systems and browsers as 1Password, including Windows (download), macOS (download), iOS, and Android. Bitwarden and 1Password both support logging in with your face or fingerprint, whichever your device supports. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari (download), and Opera make it easy to auto-fill usernames and passwords no matter which browser you use. Unlike those for 1Password, the Bitwarden extensions don’t require the desktop app in order to work.
Functionally, the Bitwarden extensions and desktop apps do the minimum we ask of a password manager: They store and generate passwords. They’re not as polished as 1Password’s apps, they don’t alert you about weak passwords when you log in (you can click an icon in the extension to check when you visit a login page, though), and they don’t support Bitwarden’s premium password-audit features (you need to use the Web app for those). Free accounts also don’t get any password reports aside from a data-breach report, which checks Have I Been Pwned? for your email address. To scan your accounts for breaches, reused passwords, exposed passwords, and unsecured websites, you need to visit the Bitwarden website and have a $per-year premium account. By contrast, 1Password’s audit notes and suggestions are visible throughout its apps and don’t require you to visit the website. 1Password also alerts you from the extension when you log in with a weak password.
The biggest features you’re likely to miss are password audits, emergency access (which allows you to grant one person access to your account in case of emergency), priority tech support, and the 1 GB of secure storage, all which add a very reasonable $10 per year if you’re interested. If you’re new to password managers and you want to try Bitwarden, we think the service is worth the $10 for at least one year so you can improve any weak passwords you have right now. Unlike most free password managers, Bitwarden allows you to share a collection of passwords (basically a folder, similar to 1Password’s vault) with one other Bitwarden user for free, though you’ll have to pay if you need to share with more people. This feature is handy if you want to share certain logins with a partner or roommate, whether that’s for banking access or just your video streaming account.
|Bitwarden Free||Free||Sharing between two people||None|
|Bitwarden Premium||$10 per year per person||Sharing between two people||1 GB encrypted file storage, emergency access, two-step login with security keys, password hygiene and health reports, TOTP authenticator, priority customer support|
|Bitwarden family plan||$12 per year||Sharing between five people||None|
Bitwarden is the only password manager we tested that separates its premium features from its family plans, which makes its pricing tricky to comprehend—both Bitwarden Free and Bitwarden Premium accounts can be included in family plans. Bitwarden Premium adds more features, while the Bitwarden family plan adds the ability to share between more than two people. If you want to share between more than two people and you also want the additional features, you need to pay for both upgrades. Once you’re prepared to pay for five premium accounts and a family plan, however, it makes more sense to get a 1Password family plan for about the same price instead.
Neither the free nor the premium version of Bitwarden is great for anyone who is new to password managers. Bitwarden’s documentation has improved over the years, even introducing video tutorials, but 1Password still does a more comprehensive job onboarding people who’ve never used a password manager before. If you’ve never used a password manager before, 1Password is easier to learn how to use.
Making a good master password
The main benefit of using a password manager is that you need to remember only one password, instead of dozens, to access all of your accounts. But the one password you do need to keep track of—your master password—needs to be a good one.
1Password has good advice on how to make a master password, and surprisingly, the company doesn’t recommend long strings of random lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Instead, you should focus on making a long but memorable password, perhaps composed of multiple random words with dashes, periods, or some other easy-to-remember punctuation in between. 1Password’s password generator is a handy way to make one of these passwords regardless of the software you use.
The argument for making a memorable but unique password is that you can memorize it yourself without making it easy for others to guess; you should try to memorize your master password if at all possible. But in case of emergencies, you should also write it down on a physical piece of paper and put it somewhere safe—storing it digitally, especially using a cloud service like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or OneDrive, risks exposing it to hackers, which would defeat the purpose. 1Password even gives you a handy Emergency Kit printout on which you can write your account information, your secret key, and your password, along with a QR code you can scan when you set 1Password up on a new phone, tablet, or computer.
Of course, your master password shouldn’t be the only thing protecting your account. You can also protect your account in 1Password, LastPass, and many other password managers by using optional two-factor authentication, and we recommend doing this. Using an app such as Authy, you can generate a continuously changing six-digit verification code on your phone, which you then use along with your master password when you log in to your account on new devices. Because it requires something you know (your master password) and something you have (your phone), two-factor authentication makes it much more difficult for hackers or other nefarious people to access your information, even if they somehow get your password.
Why can’t you just use your browser?
Most Web browsers offer to save your passwords for you, and some—including newer versions of Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari—even offer to generate new ones for you, just like a password manager. They can even alert you to password reuse and breaches.
Using your browser’s password storage is far better than doing nothing; most major browsers support some kind of syncing across devices, offer encryption and two-factor authentication for password data, and can fill in other forms for you. But using a real password manager instead has multiple benefits: They can work across multiple operating systems and browsers depending on what you prefer (for example, if you use Chrome on your desktop but Safari on your iPhone), and they offer to generate strong passwords regardless of your browser. Good password managers include mechanisms for easily sharing passwords with family members and friends when they want to log in to a site you all need access to. And because the ones we recommend include standalone apps as well as browser extensions, you can easily use a password manager to store other data, such as software product keys, addresses, bank accounts, and credit card numbers (some browsers also offer to do these things for you; others don’t).
Using your browser’s password storage is better than doing nothing, but using a real password manager instead has multiple benefits.
If you have been using your browser’s built-in password saving mechanism, 1Password and Bitwarden can both import saved passwords from Chrome and other browsers so you don’t need to start from scratch.
Is it safe to trust a password manager with all your passwords?
Protecting all of your passwords with a strong master password is convenient, but what happens if your password manager’s servers are compromised and your data is stolen?
Both 1Password and Bitwarden are transparent about their security models and what they’re doing to keep your data safe even in the event of a hack. Both use bit AES encryption to make your data unreadable to anyone without your master password, whether it’s stored on your personal phone or computer, on 1Password or Bitwarden’s servers, or in transit between the two. Both also claim to have a “zero-knowledge” security model, where no one working for 1Password or Bitwarden can ever actually see your master password, so none of them (and no one who has broken into their systems) could decrypt your data and see it even if they had access to it. 1Password routinely subjects itself to third-party security audits to make sure that its systems are secure and that it follows security best practices.3 Bitwarden does security audits every other year, and completed its most recent audit in Both 1Password and Bitwarden also interact with security researchers through public bug-bounty programs.
If you’re going to store sensitive data on someone else’s servers, you do need to take a small leap of faith—we’re confident that 1Password and Bitwarden offer the right combination of security, privacy, and convenience for most people, but we’re also trusting that their systems are as secure as the companies claim them to be. Your alternatives are to use a password manager that stores data only locally on your computer or one that syncs to a server you control; the first option makes a password manager a lot less convenient, and the second is more trouble than most people prefer to go to. If that’s what you want, Bitwarden is your best bet.
Other notable password managers
LastPass Free was previously our free pick in this guide, but most of its standout free features, like password syncing between devices and its security dashboard, have been relegated to the premium plan. The company that owns LastPass, LogMeIn, was acquired in by two private-equity firms, which makes us concerned about the future of LastPass. Since Bitwarden does just about everything LastPass does with potentially cheaper family and premium plans, all while remaining open-source, we think it’s the better option right now. If you’re setting up a password manager for the first time, however, we recommend 1Password for its superior apps and the more visible and actionable security suggestions you get from its Watchtower feature.
Dashlane Premium is almost as polished as 1Password, and its first-time setup process is even better at onboarding password-manager newcomers than 1Password’s process—it walks you through importing passwords from a browser step-by-step, letting you manually select which browsers and sites you do and don’t want it to pull from. It has user-friendly apps that alert you to security problems and can help you fix them. Dashlane also has a free version, but it’s limited to one device and 50 passwords, and most people have multiple devices and more passwords. At $60 a year, Dashlane’s most popular plan is expensive; the $90 a year family plan that covers up to five people is a better deal, but that’s still $30 per year more expensive than 1Password’s family plan. And although Dashlane Premium includes a VPN, it’s provided by AnchorFree, maker of HotSpot Shield, a VPN that has been accused of deceptive trade practices.
Keeper and NordPass have many of the same paid features as 1Password, but we found both apps less intuitive to use than 1Password. NordPass also lacks support for security keys, a feature that should be standard in any paid password manager.
Avast Passwords, Enpass, RoboForm, and Sticky Password all made it through our first round of research since they supported all of the operating systems and browsers we wanted and were reasonably priced. But we didn’t test them because they lacked minor features that 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, and Bitwarden all had. Enpass, RoboForm, and Sticky Password don’t monitor for hacked passwords. Avast doesn’t have a system for sharing passwords with family members or friends. Enpass’s password-sharing system requires sharing a master password for the vault you’d like to share, and it requires a third-party service for syncing between devices. RoboForm and Sticky Password haven’t been through a third-party security audit. They all seem fine, but you can do better than “fine.”
We dismissed most password managers for not supporting one or more of our desired operating systems or browsers. That list includes Ascendo DataVault Password Manager, Avira Password Manager Pro, Blur, Encryptr, eWallet, F-Secure Key, KeePass (an open-source app that relies on third-party apps for most non-Windows platforms), McAfee True Key, mSecure, oneSafe, Password Safe, Revelation, SplashID Pro, and Symantec Norton Password Manager.
Myki stores passwords directly on your phone, and your phone talks directly to other devices to sync data rather than relying on a cloud service. It’s an interesting option for protecting security and privacy, but most people are better off with the convenience of true cloud syncing over having to manually back up their vault in case they lose their phone.
Frequently asked questions
Is a password manager safe and secure?
Password managers normally store your information on a company’s server, but the most reputable products (including our picks) encrypt that data so that no one without your master password can ever access your information, including the people who work at the company. Our picks also go through regular third-party security audits.
When storing your data on someone else’s server, there’s always some risk that the data might be compromised in some way. But you’re taking a much bigger risk when you use weak, easily-guessed passwords, or when you reuse the same password on multiple sites—common problems that password managers are designed to fix. For most people, the tradeoff is worth it.
Doesn’t pre-filling passwords mean anyone at my computer can log into my accounts?
Only if you unlock your password manager and then walk away from your computer. Password managers are generally designed to “lock” after a period of inactivity, requiring your master password before they’ll work again.
You can also avoid this by locking your computer whenever you walk away from it. You can do this by putting your computer to sleep, or with the Windows+L (on Windows) or Control+Shift+Power (on MacBooks) keyboard shortcuts.
Can I access my passwords on a public computer?
Yes. 1Password and Bitwarden both have web apps that you can log into from anywhere—they don’t support the same convenient auto-fill capabilities as the browser extensions, but they do provide easy access to your passwords and any other information you have stored. Remember to log out of them when you’re done using the public computer.
Does a password manager work on my phone and can I sign into apps?
Yes, and yes. Most password managers with iOS and Android apps can autofill usernames and passwords on both websites and in apps, replacing (or augmenting) the built-in autofill features in those operating systems. Here are directions for setting this up in 1Password in iOS and Android, and directions for Bitwarden in iOS and Android.
What if I forget my master password?
A good password manager is designed so that a person who doesn’t know your master password will never be able to get into your account and access your data—and that includes yourself. Make sure you write down your master password (actually write it down, with pen and paper) and store it somewhere safe to prevent this from happening.
If you have forgotten your master password, your options depend on which password manager you’re using. In Bitwarden, you need to delete your entire account and start again from scratch. 1Password gives you a couple of other options, including resetting your master password from another family member’s account. If you do need to start from scratch, the process is annoying and time-consuming, but isn’t the end of the world—you’ll need to reset every password on every site you use, but once this is done, you’ll be back where you started.
Can I share passwords with a family member?
Yes. To protect your data, you should never share passwords via email, text message, or any other app on your phone or computer; most password managers include some kind of secure sharing capability that you should use instead.
A 1Password family plan allows family members to share different vaults, so you can share some logins (for paying bills or managing finances, for example) but not others (for personal email or sites you use for work). Bitwarden offers the same features for less money, though it’s less user-friendly; you’ll need to set up an “organization” to create and share password vaults. A two-person organization is free, and larger organizations cost $3 per month per person.
What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?, Authy, January 31,
Neil J. Rubenking, The Best Password Managers for , PCMag, December 26,
David Gewirtz, The best password managers for , CNET, December 27,
Sarah Brown, What if 1Password gets hacked?, 1Password Blog, August 28,
LastPass Security History, LastPass, November 2,
Bitwarden Completes Third-party Security Audit, Bitwarden Blog, November 12,
About your guides
Andrew Cunningham is a senior staff writer on Wirecutter's tech team. He has been writing about laptops, phones, routers, and other tech since Before that he spent five years in IT fixing computers and helping people buy the best tech for their needs. He also co-hosts the book podcast Overdue and the TV podcast Appointment Television.
Thorin Klosowski is the editor of privacy and security topics at Wirecutter. He has been writing about technology for over a decade, with an emphasis on learning by doing—which is to say, breaking things as often as possible to see how they work. For better or worse, he applies that same DIY approach to his reporting.
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The best password managers for
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Using one of the best password managers on offer today is a quick and easy way to manage all of your online login details, whilst also ensuring they stay protected from cybercriminals.
Growing online security concerns have made password management an essential tool, especially as more of us pivot to remote working that splits our time between the home and office.
Most of us already have scores of online accounts, and it's all too easy to fall into the habit of reusing the same password for multiple sites and services. It might be convenient, but it also leaves you in danger of a very real cybersecurity breach which could affect not just your personal files but also any business data you are working with.
The best password managers will not only save you the effort of remembering dozens of different logins for all your online accounts, it will also help keep them secure by generating strong passwords that are impossible to guess, and storing them all safely in an encrypted vault.
Here's our pick of the services we think offer the top features and value for users when it comes choosing the best password managers.
And if you're looking for something for work, here's the best business password managers around.
The best password managers: How did we test?
The best password managers: How did we test?
The growth in popularity of password managers means there are more options around today than ever before - as of November , there were more than free and paid password managers on the Google Play app store alone.
So choosing wisely who you will share the keys to your online kingdom is vital - we have tested and evaluated more than twenty of the top password managers, and selected the pick of the bunch for our list.
Our expert reviewers have evaluated each service individually, ranking them on features, setup, platform compatibility, value-for-money as well as support, security and performance - and picked out the ones that we'd trust to secure our own account details.
Many of the ones listed here offer both free and paid accounts, so you can pick one that suits your needs, and your wallet.
Bear in mind that this buying guide focuses primarily on individual/consumer offerings.
Check out our best business password manager buying guide for business and enterprise grade password management platforms. We've also featured the best password generators and best password recovery software around.
Jump to our list of the best free password managers.
As one of the most popular password managers in the world, Dashlane is a capable password manager for a single device, capable of storing logins for up to 50 accounts in a secure vault with multi-factor authentication, Like LastPass, it can do much more than just fill in passwords for you; it can also store all kinds of information and fill out forms with delivery addresses and contact details automatically.
So far so good, but Dashlane's premium service is even more impressive. Not only does it let you synchronize all your passwords across all your devices (both desktop and mobile), it also monitors the dark web for data breaches and sends you personalized alerts if any of your stored details appear in a batch of stolen data.
There's secure file storage too (ideal for scanned ID documents, insurance policies and receipts) and even a VPN for browsing the web more securely via Wi-Fi hotspots.
Unsurprisingly, all of this comes at a price, and Dashlane's premium plan is one of the most expensive options around, but the extra services (plus remote account access and priority support) do justify the cost.
LastPass is easy to use, super-secure, packed with features, and offers both free and premium tiers so you can choose the option that suits you best.
All data is stored using AES bit encryption with PBKDF2 SHA and salted hashes to keep it secure - and this isn't limited to passwords either. You can also store credit card details and delivery addresses so they can be entered automatically when you're shopping online, plus encrypted notes, details of insurance policies and much more besides.
The free version of LastPass is superb, but premium accounts are very reasonably priced and offer an extremely useful extra feature: the ability to log into apps on your phone. Very few password managers offer this, and it could prove invaluable if you ever lose your phone, preventing people from accessing your emails and social media.
One of our favorite LastPass features is its support for multi-factor authentication, which helps protect you from phishing attempts by requiring an additional form of authorization to log into your accounts, such as a code generated by a mobile app or a fingerprint scan. Although it's becoming more widespread, not all sites and services offer this yet, so having all your logins secured in a vault that's protected this way is a real boon.
Do note, though, that as of March , LastPass Free users will now have to choose whether they want their accounts on mobile of desktop, with the company saying it will only include access on unlimited devices of one type.
Newcomer NordPass is part of NordSec suite of products that also includes NordVPN. Nordpass offers a very capable password manager with browser plugins for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera, as well as desktop apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux, plus iOs and Android mobile devices.
As well as storing encrypted passwords, NordPass can also suggest strong passwords as well as offer to safely and securely store credit card and banking details for faster checkouts on ecommerce websites.
With the premium edition, you can then sync this information across up to 6 devices per licence. The free version only allows one, but you get to try out other premium features for a week.
Another positive is that there is no limitation to the number of passwords you can save, unlike some others that have restrictions. However, one restriction here is that NordPass won't autofill forms (automatically providing common details such as your name, address and email), like some other password managers offer.
Overall, though, NordPass is a highly capable password manager that does a little more than would be expected.
1Password is a password manager that aims to deliver protection not just for individuals or organizations, but also provides a shared password protection system for families. 1Password pitches itself as the world's most loved password manager.
There are two main service provisions, with one being for individuals and their families, allowing either a single user or a family of up to five people to use the 1Password service for protected logins. There's also a business service that offers protection for those working from home, as well as teams and enterprises in general.
As well as providing all of the above, 1Password protects you from breaches and other threats, such as keyloggers and phishing attempts, and will only work in verified browsers.
The result is a very secure and competent password manager that covers both personal use as well as corporate use, including working from home, without compromising your security.
The majority of people use very weak passwords and reuse them on different websites. How are you supposed to use strong, unique passwords on all the websites you use? The solution is a password manager.
Password managers store your login information for all the websites you use and help you log into them automatically. They encrypt your password database with a master password the master password is the only one you have to remember.
Dont Reuse Passwords!
Password reuse is a serious problem because of the many password leaks that occur each year, even on large websites. When your password leaks, malicious individuals have an email address, username, and password combination they can try on other websites. If you use the same login information everywhere, a leak at one website could give people access to all your accounts. If someone gains access to your email account in this way, they could use password-reset links to access other websites, like your online banking or PayPal account.
To prevent password leaks from being so damaging, you need to use unique passwords on every website. These should also be strong passwords long, unpredictable passwords that contain numbers and symbols.
Web geeks have hundreds of accounts to keep track of, while even the average person likely has tens of different passwords. Remembering such strong passwords is nearly impossible without resorting to some sort of trick. The ideal trick is a password manager that generates secure, random passwords for you and remembers them so you dont have to.
What Using a Password Manager is Like
A password manager will take a load off your mind, freeing up brain power for doing productive things rather than remembering a long list of passwords.
When you use a password manager and need to log into a website, you will first visit that website normally. Instead of typing your password into the website, you type your master password into the password manager, which automatically fills the appropriate login information into the website. (If youre already logged into your password manager, it will automatically fill the data for you). You dont have to think about what email address, username, and password you used for the website your password manager does the dirty work for you.
If youre creating a new account, your password manager will offer to generate a secure random password for you, so you dont have to think about that, either. It can also be configured to automatically fill information like your address, name, and email address into web forms.
Why Browser-Based Password Managers Arent Ideal
Web browsers Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and others all have integrated password managers. Each browsers built-in password manager cant compete with dedicated password managers. For one thing, Chrome and Internet Explorer store your passwords on your computer in an unencrypted form. People could access the password files on your computer and view them, unless you encrypt your computers hard drive.
Mozilla Firefox has a master password feature that allows you to encrypt your saved passwords with a single master password, storing them on your computer in an encrypted format. However, Firefoxs password manager isnt the ideal solution, either. The interface doesnt help you generate random passwords and it lacks various features, such as cross-platform syncing (Firefox cant sync to iOS devices).
A dedicated password manager will store your passwords in an encrypted form, help you generate secure random passwords, offer a more powerful interface, and allow you to easily access your passwords across all the different computers, smartphones, and tablets you use.
Password Managers to Use
A variety of password managers are available, but three stand out as the best options. Each is a solid option, and which you prefer will depend on whats more important to you:
Dashlane: This password manager is a little newer, but what they lack in name recognition they make up for with great features and slick apps for almost every platform Windows, OS X, iPhone, iPad, and Android. They have extensions for every browser, features like a security dashboard that analyzes your passwords, and they even have an automatic password changer that can change your passwords for you without having to deal with it yourself.
One of the best features of Dashlane is that its completely free to use on a single device. If you want to sync your passwords between devices, youll need to upgrade to premium. But you can test it out for free.
And when it comes to security, Dashlane has another advantage, because you have the choice to keep all of your passwords locally on your computer, rather than in a cloud. So you have the benefit of something like KeePass, but with a better interface. If you do choose to sync your passwords using the cloud, they are AES encrypted.
LastPass: This is a cloud-based password manager with extensions, mobile apps, and even desktop apps for all the browsers and operating systems you could want. Its extremely powerful and even offers a variety of two-factor authentication options so you can ensure no one else can log into your password vault. Weve covered LastPasss many security options in great detail. LastPass stores your passwords on LastPasss servers in an encrypted form the LastPass extension or app locally decrypts and encrypts them when you log in, so LastPass couldnt see your passwords if they wanted to. For more information about LastPass, read our guide to getting started with LastPass.
KeePass: LastPass isnt for everyone. Some people just arent comfortable with a cloud-based password manager, and thats fine. KeePass is a popular desktop application for managing your passwords, but there are also browser extensions and mobile apps for KeePass. KeePass stores your passwords on your computer so you remain in control of them its even open-source, so you could audit its code if you wanted to. The downside is that youre responsible for your passwords, and youll have to sync them between your devices manually. Some people use a syncing solution like Dropbox to sync the KeePass database between their devices. For more information, check out our introduction to KeePass.
Update: We didnt mention 1Password in the initial version of this guide, but 1Password is also an excellent choice that more and more people are adopting. If you prefer open-source software, Bitwarden is also an excellent alternative to KeePass.
Getting Started with Your Password Manager
The first big decision you will need to make with a password manager is choosing your master password. This master password controls access to your entire password manager database, so you should make it particularly strong its the only password youll need to remember, after all. You may want to write down the password and store it somewhere safe after choosing it, just in case for example, if youre really serious, you could store your master password in a vault at the bank. You can change this password later, but only if you remember it if you lose your master password, you wont be able to view your saved passwords. This is essential, as it ensures no one else can view your secure password database without the master password.
RELATED:What is Typosquatting and How Do Scammers Use it?
After installing a password manager, you will likely want to start changing your website passwords to more secure ones. LastPass offers the LastPass Security Challenge, which identifies the weak and duplicate passwords you should focus on changing. Dashlane has a Security Dashboard built right in, that will help you figure out which passwords might need to be changed.
Password managers also allow you to store other types of data in a secure form everything from credit card numbers to secure notes. All data you store in a password manager is encrypted with your master password.
Password managers can even help against phishing, as they fill account information into websites based on their web address (URL). If you think youre on your banks website and your password manager doesnt automatically fill your login information, its possible that youre on a phishing website with a different URL, often using a typosquatting domain.
Image Credit: Johan Larsson on Flickr
Password managers are the vegetables of the internet. We know they're good for us, but most of us are happier snacking on the password equivalent of junk food. For seven years running that's been "" and "password"—the two most commonly used passwords on the web. The problem is, most of us don't know what makes a good password and aren't able to remember hundreds of them anyway.
Now that so many people are working from home, outside the office intranet, the number of passwords you need may have significantly increased. The safest (if craziest) way to store them is to memorize them all. (Make sure they are long, strong, and secure!) Just kidding. That might work for Memory Grand Master Ed Cooke, but most of us are not capable of such fantastic feats. We need to offload that work to password managers, which offer secure vaults that can stand in for our faulty, overworked memories.
A password manager offers convenience and, more important, helps you create better passwords, which makes your online existence less vulnerable to password-based attacks. Be sure to also have a look at our guide to VPN providers for more ideas on how you can upgrade your security, as well as our guide to backing up your data to make sure you don't lose anything if the unexpected happens.
Updated November We've updated our top pick to note 1Password's new desktop app and added some details about Apple's built-in password manager, iCloud Keychain.
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Why Not Use Your Browser?
Most web browsers offer at least a rudimentary password manager. (This is where your passwords are stored when Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox ask if you'd like to save a password.) This is better than reusing the same password everywhere, but browser-based password managers are limited.
The reason security experts recommend you use a dedicated password manager comes down to focus. Web browsers have other priorities that haven't left much time for improving their password manager. For instance, most of them won't generate strong passwords for you, leaving you right back at "" Dedicated password managers have a singular goal and have been adding helpful features for years. Ideally, this leads to better security.
WIRED readers have also written me asking about Apple's MacOS password manager, which syncs through iCloud and has some nice integrations with Apple's Safari web browser. There's nothing wrong with Apple's system. In fact, I have used Keychain Access on Macs in the past, and it works great. It doesn't have some of the nice extras you get with dedicated services, but it handles securing your passwords and syncing them between Apple devices. The main problem is if you have any non-Apple devices, you won't be able to sync your passwords to them, since Apple doesn't make apps for other platforms. All in on Apple? Then this is a viable, free, built-in option worth considering.
How We Test
The best and most secure cryptographic algorithms are all available via open source programming libraries. On one hand, this is great, as any app can incorporate these ciphers and keep your data safe. Unfortunately, any encryption is only as strong as its weakest link, and cryptography alone won't keep your passwords safe.
This is what I test for: What are the weakest links? Is your master password sent to the server? Every password manager says it isn't, but if you watch network traffic while you enter a password, sometimes you find, well, it is. I also dig into how mobile apps work: Do they, for example, leave your password store unlocked but require a pin to get back in? That's convenient, but it sacrifices too much security for that convenience.
No password manager is perfect, but the ones below represent the very best I've tested. They're as secure as they can be while still remaining convenient and easy to use.
What sets 1Password apart from the rest of the options in this list is the number of extras it offers. It's not the cheapest (see our next pick for that), but in addition to managing passwords, it will alert you when a password is weak or has been compromised (by checking against Troy Hunt's excellent Have I Been Pwned database).
Like other password managers, 1Password has apps that work just about everywhere, including MacOS, iOS, Android, Windows, and Chrome OS. There's even a command-line tool that will work anywhere, and the company recently launched a client for Linux in beta. There are plugins for your favorite web browser too, which makes it easy to generate and edit new passwords on the fly.
1Password recently announced a new version of its apps, 1Password 8, and I've had a mixed experience. On one hand, it finally works with Windows laptops running on ARM architecture. But on MacOS Monterey, I've had problems with autofill not working, keyboard shortcuts stopping until I relaunch the browser, among other issues. The problems so far are not enough to make me change our top pick, but it's definitely something I am keeping an eye on. The company also recently reduced its free-trial period from 30 days to 14 days.
If you frequently travel across national borders you'll appreciate my favorite 1Password feature: Travel Mode. This mode lets you delete any sensitive data from your devices before you travel and then restore it with a click after you've crossed a border. This prevents anyone, even law enforcement at international borders, from accessing your complete password vault.
In addition to being a password manager, 1Password can act as an authentication app like Google Authenticator, and for added security, it creates a secret key to the encryption key it uses, meaning no one can decrypt your passwords without that key. (The downside is that if you lose this key, no one, not even 1Password, can decrypt your passwords.)
1Password also offers tight integration with other mobile apps. Rather than needing to copy and paste passwords from your password manager to other apps (which puts your password on the clipboard at least for a moment), 1Password is integrated with many apps and can autofill. This is more noticeable on iOS, where inter-app communication is more restricted.
1Password Costs $3 Per Month ($36 Per Year, $60 a Year for Families)
After signing up,download the appfor Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, or Linux. There are also browser extensions forFirefox, Chrome, and Edge.
Best Free Option
Bitwarden is secure, open source, and free with no limits. The applications are polished and user-friendly, making it the best choice for anyone who doesn't need the extra features of 1Password.
Did I mention it's open source? That means the code that powers Bitwarden is freely available for anyone to inspect, seek out flaws, and fix. In theory, the more eyes on the code, the more airtight it becomes. Bitwarden has also been audited for by a third party to ensure it's secure. It can be installed on your own server for easy self-hosting if you prefer to run your own cloud.
There are apps for Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, and Linux, as well as extensions for all major web browsers. Bitwarden also has support for Windows Hello and Touch ID on its desktop apps for Windows and MacOS, giving you the added security of those biometric authentication systems.
Another thing I like is Bitwarden's semiautomated password fill-in tool. If you visit a site that you've saved credentials for, Bitwarden's browser icon shows the number of saved credentials from that site. Click the icon and it will ask which account you want to use and then automatically fills in the login form. This makes it easy to switch between usernames and avoids the pitfalls of autofill we mention at the bottom of this guide. If you simply must have your fully automated form-filling, Bitwarden supports that as well.
Bitwarden offers a paid upgrade account. The cheapest of the bunch, Bitwarden Premium, is $10 per year. That gets you 1 GB of encrypted file storage, two-factor authentication with devices like YubiKey, FIDO U2F, Duo, and a password hygiene and vault health report. Paying also gets you priority customer support.
Bitwarden Is Free ($40 Per Year for Families)
After signing up,download the appfor Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, or Linux. There are also browser extensions forFirefox, Chrome, Safari, Edge, Vivaldi, and Brave.
Best Full-Featured Manager
I first encountered Dashlane several years ago. Back then, it was the same as its competitors with no standout attributes. But recent updates have added several helpful features. One of the best is Site Breach Alerts, something other services have since added as well. Dashlane actively monitors the darker corners of the web, looking for leaked or stolen personal data, and then alerts you if your information has been compromised.
Setup and migration from another password manager is simple, and you'll use a secret key to encrypt your passwords, much like 1Password's setup process. In practice, Dashlane is very similar to the others in this list. The company did discontinue its desktop app earlier this year, moving to a web-based user interface, which is a little different than 1Password and Bitwarden. (The desktop apps will officially shut down on January 10, ) I primarily use passwords in the web browser anyway, and Dashlane has add-ons for all the major browsers, along with iOS and Android apps. If a desktop app is important to you, it's something to be aware of. Dashlane offers a day free trial, so you can test it out before committing.
Dashlane Premium Costs $ Per Month ($60 Per Year)
After signing up,download the appfor Android and iOS, and grab the browser extensions forFirefox, Chrome, and Edge.
Best DIY Option (Self-Hosted)
Want to retain more control over your data in the cloud? Try using a desktop application like KeePassXC. It stores encrypted versions of all your passwords into an encrypted digital vault that keeps you secure with a master password, a key file, or both. The difference is that instead of a hosted service like 1Password syncing it for you, you sync that database file yourself using a file-syncing service like Dropbox or Edward Snowden's recommended service, SpiderOak. Once your file is in the cloud, you can access it on any device that has a KeePassXC client.
Why do it yourself? In a word: Transparency. Like Bitwarden, KeepassXC is open source, which means its code can be and has been inspected for critical flaws.
KeePassXC Is Free to Use
Download thedesktop appfor Windows, MacOS, or Linux and create your vault. There are also extensions forFirefox,Edge, andChrome. It does not have official apps for your phone. Instead, the project recommendsKeePass2AndroidorStrongbox for iPhone.
NordPass is a relatively new kid on the password manager block, but it comes from a company with significant pedigree. NordVPN is a well-known VPN provider, and the company brings to its password manager much of the ease of use and simplicity that made its VPN offering popular. The installation and setup process is a breeze. There are apps for every major platform (including Linux), browser, and device.
The free version of NordPass is limited to one device, and there's no syncing available. There is a seven-day free trial of the premium version, which lets you test device syncing. But to get that for good, you'll have to upgrade to the $a-year plan. (Like its VPN service, NordPass accepts payment in cryptocurrencies.)
NordPass uses a zero-knowledge setup in which all data is encrypted on your device before it's uploaded to the company's servers, like our picks above. Other nice features include support for two-factor authentication to sign in to your account and a built-in password generator (which has plenty of options to handle those poorly designed sites that put weird requirements on your password). There's also a personal information storage feature to keep your address, phone number, and other personal data safe and secure, but easy to access as well.
NordPass also recently added an emergency access feature, which allows you to grant another NordPass user emergency access to your vault. It works just like the same feature in 1Password, allowing trusted friends or family to access your account in the event you cannot.
NordPass Is Free, But We Recommend the Premium Plan ($36 Per Year)
After signing up,download the appfor Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, or Linux. There are also browser extensions forFirefox, Chrome, and Edge.
Password managers are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Our top picks cover most use cases and are the best choices for most people, but your needs may be different. Fortunately, there are plenty of very good password managers. Here are some more we've tested and like.
- RememBear (free, or $72 per year for Premium): RememBear does everything you'd expect of a password manager, and it has bears! Password managers are possibly the most boring software on your device, plus just the idea of them is stressful to some people. RememBear counters this by entertaining with bear puns and smoothing out anxiety with its friendly, lovable bear mascot. For beginners, RememBear has everything you need and a clever, approachable user interface, but it's missing features advanced users might want, like a robust password strength checker. The free plan only works on one device and doesn't include syncing, but the premium account is $6 per month and includes syncing with end-to-end encryption, secure backups, and priority customer service. Sadly, you don't get an actual bear.
- Enpass (free, $24 per year or one-time $80 for Premium): Like KeePassXC, Enpass does not store any data on its servers. Syncing is handled through third-party services like Dropbox or NextCloud. Enpass doesn't do the syncing, but it does offer apps on every platform. That means once you have syncing set up, it works just like any other service. And you don't have to worry about Enpass being hacked, because your data isn't on its servers. If you're comfortable setting up the secure syncing yourself, Enpass makes a great password manager.
- Keeper Password Manager ($35 per year for Unlimited): Keeper offers a variety of security-related tools, including a password manager. Keeper works much like 1Password and others, storing only your encrypted data, and offers two-factor authentication for logging in to your account. Like Dashlane, Keeper has a lot of extras, including dark-web monitoring, meaning it will check publicly posted data to make sure yours isn't available.
- Pass (free): Pass is a command-line wrapper around GPG (GNU Privacy Guard), which is to say this is only for the nerdiest of users. It has support for managing encrypted .gpg files in Git, and there are third-party mobile apps available. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's what I use.
Password Manager Basics
A good password manager stores, generates, and updates passwords for you with the press of a button. If you're willing to spend a few dollars a month, a password manager can sync your passwords across all your devices. Here's how they work.
Only one password to remember: To access all your passwords, you only have to remember one password. When you type that into the password manager, it unlocks the vault containing all of your actual passwords. Only needing to remember one password is great, but it means there's a lot riding on that one password. Make sure it's a good one. If you're having trouble coming up with that one password to rule them all, check out our guide to better password security. You might also consider using the Diceware method for generating a strong master password.
Apps and extensions: Most password managers are full systems rather than a single piece of software. They consist of apps or browser extensions for each of your devices (Windows, Mac, Android phones, iPhone, and tablets), which have tools to help you create secure passwords, safely store them, and evaluate the security of your existing passwords. All that information is then sent to a central server where your passwords are encrypted, stored, and shared between devices.
Fixing compromised passwords: While password managers can help you create more secure passwords and keep them safe from prying eyes, they can't protect your password if the website itself is breached. That doesn't mean they don't help in this scenario though. All the cloud-based password managers we discuss offer tools to alert you to potentially compromised passwords. Password managers also make it easier to quickly change a compromised password and search through your passwords to ensure you didn't reuse any compromised codes.
You should disable auto form-filling: Some password managers will automatically fill in and even submit web forms for you. This is super convenient, but for additional security, we suggest you disable this feature. Automatically filling forms in the browser has made password managers vulnerable to attacks in the past. For this reason, our favorite password manager, 1Password, requires you to opt in to this feature. We suggest you do not.
Don't panic about hacks: Software has bugs, even your password manager. The question is not what do you do if it becomes known that your password manager has a flaw, but what do you do when it becomes known that your password manager has a flaw. The answer is, first, don't panic. Normally bugs are found, reported, and fixed before they're exploited in the wild. Even if someone does manage to gain access to your password manager's servers, you should still be fine. All of the services we list store only encrypted data and none of them store your encryption key, meaning all an attacker gets from compromising their servers is encrypted data.
How many passwords do you have to secure?
Whether the answer is one or hundreds, Password Safe allows you to safely and easily create a secured and encrypted user name/password list. With Password Safe all you have to do is create and remember a single "Master Password" of your choice in order to unlock and access your entire user name/password list.
Security starts with you, the user. Keeping written lists of passwords on scraps of paper, or in a text document on your desktop is unsafe and is easily viewed by prying eyes (both cyber-based and human). Using the same password over and over again across a wide spectrum of systems and web sites creates the nightmare scenario where once someone has figured out one password, they have figured out all your passwords and now have access to every part of your life (system, e-mail, retail, financial, work).
KeePass Password Safe
This is the official website of KeePass, the free, open source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager.
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Today, you have to remember many passwords. You need a password for a lot of websites, your e-mail account, your webserver, network logins, etc. The list is endless. Also, you should use a different password for each account, because if you would use only one password everywhere and someone gets this password, you would have a problem: the thief would have access to all of your accounts.
KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can store all your passwords in one database, which is locked with a master key. So you only have to remember one single master key to unlock the whole database. Database files are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES, ChaCha20 and Twofish). For more information, see the features page.
Is it really free?
Yes, KeePass is really free, and more than that: it is open source (OSI certified). You can have a look at its full source code and check whether the security features are implemented correctly.
As a cryptography and computer security expert, I have never understood the current fuss about the open source software movement. In the cryptography world, we consider open source necessary for good security; we have for decades. Public security is always more secure than proprietary security. It's true for cryptographic algorithms, security protocols, and security source code. For us, open source isn't just a business model; it's smart engineering practice.
Bruce Schneier, Crypto-Gram
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