Using a password manager is one of the best steps you can take to protect your security online. With a great password manager, you can easily generate unique and strong passwords, then store them securely for use wherever you need them on your phone, laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Basically they take up 90% of their jobs to be safe online.
At this point, we want everyone to know why it’s important to have a unique password for every account online. However, the short version uses one password everywhere, meaning that if only one site you use gets hacked, the attacker will potentially have a password that unlocks your entire online life. If you’re using a password manager, the breach still matters, but at that point, it’s just resetting one password, not dozens.
Different password managers have different selling points, but most of them offer the same set of core features. They generate passwords that store them securely and prompt you to save them when you use them on a website. It also syncs passwords between devices and automatically enters them into websites and apps when needed.
There are many good password managers that charge a monthly fee, but in this guide we will focus on the free service. All of them have a paid subscription tier, but in most cases the free tier provides the essential core features of a password manager.
The best choice for most people is Bitwarden.
Best for most people: Bitwarden
Bitwarden basically has everything you want in a password manager. Available for iOS and Android. There are native desktop applications on Windows, macOS and Linux. It also integrates with all major browsers including Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge.
Bitwarden’s security has also been audited by third-party security companies and says it uses the cloud to sync passwords between devices, but stores them in an encrypted form that only users can unlock. You can also protect your Bitwarden account with two-factor authentication to provide an extra layer of security.
Getting passwords was easy and Bitwarden has a guide for many popular password managers on their support page. It supports biometric security on iOS and Android, and all software is nicely designed and easy to use.
Bitwarden has a paid tier, but I think you can do it without most of the features that most people offer. Paying gives you access to encrypted attachments, more two-level security options, and a report on the overall security of the passwords you’re using. However, even in the free tier, you can perform a check to see if your personal password has been leaked for password violations. Paying also gives you access to a built-in one-time code generator for two-factor authentication, but it’s easier and safer to use a separate app for this.
As part of my research, I’ve also tried a variety of other password managers. Of these, Zoho Vault is another free option full of features, but the interface is not as good as Bitwarden.
Zoho Vault’s iOS and Android apps are good enough, but the browser extensions are a bit clunky and there are so many useful features like password generators buried behind so many sub-menus. It is also unclear whether the software has passed a third-party security audit. The company did not respond to our questions in time for publication.
There were two other free password managers that I thought didn’t fit the standards of Bitwarden and Zoho Vault. Norton Password Manager has the strengths of a well-known cybersecurity company. However, we believe that our attempts to simplify the setup process really make things even more confusing, and Norton’s support page didn’t do much to help us fix what went wrong. Norton did not respond to emails asking if the software passed a third-party security audit.
I tried LogMeOnce too, but I wasn’t relieved that there were ads in my smartphone app. It also requested more privileges than any other password manager we have tried. The company says this is necessary to enable the optional feature, the Mugshot feature to provide information about unauthorized access attempts to your account. The company says it regularly hires third-party security researchers to test its products.
Until recently, LastPass was included as a free password manager, but on March 16th, we made some changes to the free tier that will make it unusable as a free password manager. After this date, free users will only be able to view and manage passwords from a single category of devices, such as mobile or computer. “Mobile” subscribers have access to phones, tablets and smartwatches, and “Computer” subscribers can use the service on PC, Mac and browser extensions. Given the way most people switch between these two types of devices every day, I think this will seriously limit how useful LastPass’s free tier is for most people.
The focus on simplicity means we’ve excluded KeePass, a password manager that relies on third-party apps on non-Windows platforms. Also, to sync passwords between devices, you’ll need to use a third-party storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive.
In addition to the free options, there are numerous paid password managers available. Some of these have a free tier, but they are so restrictive that they cannot be effectively used as a daily password manager. 1Password is probably the most well-known paid option, but it includes NordPass, RememBear, Passwarden, Dashlane, RoboForm, and Enpass, all of which limit the free version in a way that you don’t think is suitable for long-term use.
Finally, most modern internet browsers offer built-in password management, but I think it’s worth taking the time to store your passwords in a standalone service. It gives you more flexibility to switch between platforms and browsers in the future, and password managers usually provide a better interface for saving passwords. To make it simpler for yourself, you can avoid the risk of storing passwords in two places at once by turning off the built-in password manager in your browser after choosing the standalone version you want to use. .