If you have ever found yourself scrambling to locate or remember the password to your Netflix, bank, or phone account, you’re not alone. All too often we can find ourselves thinking we know the password to something we haven’t logged into in a while, only to have completely forgotten it. This is why password managers are so handy.
You no longer have to worry about using different versions of your childhood street name, and you definitely can stop using “Password123.” What you can do with a password manager is create a mish-mosh of letters, numbers, and characters to create a secure password for all of your important accounts.
Password managers will help you securely store the usernames and passwords to five, 50, or 500 of your favorite sites.
Let’s take a look at the best password managers, both free and paid, that are available today:
- Best Overall: 1Password
- Best Free: Bitwarden
- Best Security: Keeper
- Best Features: Dashlane
- Best for Local Storage: Enpass
- Best for Basics: Roboform
- Best Up-and-Coming: Nordpass
Best Overall: 1Password
1Password has long set the standard for best password managers and for very good reason. All of the necessary features are present as far as unlimited passwords, items, and document storage. Two-factor authentication is also accounted for as an added layer of protection and it’s something everyone should be using.
Most important about 1Password is that for many people who thought it was once more Apple-centric should be pleased that both the Windows and Linux platforms are all caught up. That’s good news for desktop applications, but browser extensions for Chrome, Safari, Edge, and more, also provide cross-platform compatibility. There are also fully featured apps for both Android and iOS.
Pricing for 1Password is billed at $2.99 per month when billed annually for individual users and $4.99 monthly for up to five family members (also billed monthly). That pricing puts 1Password somewhere in the middle of password manager pricing, but it’s a great value when you factor in how frequently 1Password is updated.
Perhaps the most underrated feature of 1Password is Travel Mode. This functionality enables you to activate a “travel” vault that only shows passwords you’ve marked safe for travel in case your device is ever inspected.
Best Free: Bitwarden
When you think of a password manager that is both free and excellent, only one name should come to mind. Bitwarden is not just the best free password manager, it’s one of the best password managers, period.
For its zero-dollar offering, Bitwarden gives you unlimited passwords that can sync across all of your devices and platforms. That’s good news as Bitwarden is available just about everywhere including Windows, macOS, and Linux, as well as every major web browser and smartphone.
If being free wasn’t enough of a reason to look at Bitwarden, it’s also open-source so the source code is completely transparent, which speaks to the solid security you can expect. End-to-end bank-level encryption also gives peace of mind for your passwords as well as any other sensitive data you add to the platform.
Sure, there’s a $10 yearly “premium” offering for 1GB of file storage and Advanced 2FA, but it’s not necessary to enjoy 98% of Bitwarden’s outstanding feature set.
Best Security: Keeper
All of the best password managers emphasize security in a big way, but Keeper takes it to a different level. Don’t let the nice interface fool you; this is a serious password management tool that doesn’t mess around.
Keeper’s zero-knowledge policy ensures that any information uploaded to its software is only accessible to the user. In other words, there is no opportunity for Keeper to see your encrypted data. This is Keeper’s main philosophy and why they win for best security. If a website listed in your Keeper account is ever breached and your information appears on the dark web, you will receive instant alerts to change your password(s).
For $35 a year (or $75 for families), users can get unlimited password storage, unlimited device syncing, unlimited identity and payments, touch and Face ID verification, and secure password sharing, which is great for sharing with family.
Best Features: Dashlane
Dashlane is often thought of as 1Password’s closest competitor for the top spot of password managers. Not only does it have the nicest interface but it also has a large feature set that helps it stand out.
Like Keeper, Dashlane also actively monitors the dark web and immediately alerts you if your password info from a breached website appears on the dark web. However, Dashlane’s best feature may be its bulk password changer that can reset dozens or hundreds of passwords all at once. As other password managers require you to change one password at a time, this may be Dashlane’s best feature. It’s a true life hack.
Dashlane also offers with its premium accounts an unlimited VPN service. For $4.99 a month on the Premium plan (billed annually), you receive Hotspot Shield which, by itself, is $96, so Dashlane’s value is easy to see right from the get-go. The premium plan also includes an unlimited number of devices and autofill passwords.
Best for Local Storage: Enpass
Most password managers rely heavily on the cloud for syncing your passwords across all of your devices. That’s not the case with Enpass, which is essentially an offline password manager so all of your passwords, logins, and files are stored on your device instead of in the cloud.
There’s still an opportunity to use a third-party service like Dropbox to sync all of your devices, but for anyone strongly in favor of offline storage, Enpass is the best option.
Another big bonus for Enpass is that you not only have inexpensive options for personal and family use at $1.99 a month and $2.99 a month respectively, but you can also do a lifetime plan. For $79.99, you can purchase Enpass once and use it for life. That’s a lifetime license for Enpass apps on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. Enpass’ plans also include two-factor authentication and security alerts for website breaches.
Best for Basics: Roboform
One of the oldest password managers around, Roboform was founded in 1999 and has been a top-notch password manager ever since. The service’s biggest claim to fame has long been its outstanding form-filling tool which basically takes care of any online form with just a few clicks. While browsers and other password managers have tried to duplicate the tool, Roboform remains the best in the business at form-filling.
Form-filling isn’t all Roboform is known for, as it’s also great for keeping all of your passwords in sync whether you are online or offline. There is support for all major browsers which means you can switch browsers at will and not lose any logins.
Roboform’s best feature may be its price as it offers one of the most extensive free plans. You need to jump to its “Everywhere” plan, but for $1.99 a month, you can upgrade and add 2FA, cloud backup, a secure shared folder, and web access to your security vaults.
Best Up-and-Coming: Nordpass
If there is any password manager to really keep an eye on in the future, it’s Nordpass. Developed by the same team that created one of the best VPNs on the market today with NordVPN, Nordpass is growing fast.
It’s a beautifully designed app that offers one interesting benefit over the competition. While the rest of the password managers on this list favor 256-bit AES encryption, Nordpass opts for XChaCha20. The latter is more modern and doesn’t have a hardware acceleration requirement so it’s more efficient. That won’t mean much to casual users but it’s an important distinction all the same.
Security aside, Nordpass offers unlimited passwords, folders for organizing your unlimited passwords, and secure notes for writing things down. If any sensitive data is leaked to the dark web, Nordpass will immediately notify you just as it will notify you if any of your passwords are weak or too old.
Nordpass isn’t the cheapest on the block but it’s the password manager most worth watching in the future.
How to Pick the Best Password Manager: A Step-by-Step Guide
As you look at each of the password managers on this list, it’s important to look at a few different considerations before making your choice, such as:
- Cloud storage
- Apps and browser extensions
The biggest aspect of password managers may very well be how the passwords are stored. For the most part, they are all stored, albeit encrypted, in the cloud. That’s good news for those who want to make sure all of their devices are synced but, for some, cloud storage is a no-go for password managers. This is why apps like Enpass exist, so you can focus on local storage and the only way to gain access to your passwords is through your physical device.
Pricing with each of these password managers can vary and, while none of them are dramatically different from the other, pricing is a factor. It’s not necessarily the price itself but what you get for it.
Dashlane, for example, has two different tiers which can make it the most expensive on this list but also the most feature-rich. Bitwarden is free and offers the best set of features and requires no charge for features that many other password managers require annual charges.
Rest assured that all of these password managers are made with security in mind. Bank-level AES 256-bit encryption is standard save for Nordpass which uses XChaCha20. Getting into these systems and finding your passwords is no easy task and, while hacks have happened in the past, passwords have rarely, if ever, been compromised.
Keeper is often considered the most secure of the group but if Keeper isn’t your password manager of choice, you’re still fully secure elsewhere.
Apps and Browser Extensions
For the most part, all of these best password managers offer a full suite of mobile and desktop apps as well as browser extensions. That’s not true across the board, though, as Dashlane has done away with its desktop app completely in favor of a web app that can be accessed offline. For many people, a desktop app is a must-own, which rules Dashlane out.
The best password manager apps which are those listed here will alert you when a password is outdated or compromised. That’s a pretty big thing to have as many people don’t think about the last time you changed a password.
The same goes for alerts when a website or app has been compromised. Dashlane and Keeper excel at monitoring the dark web and alerting you if your information has been “stolen” from a service and appears on the dark web. This is an invaluable service that all password managers should offer by default.
Using the Best Password Managers: What It’s Like
People that are tired of remembering hundreds of passwords or worse, writing them down in a notebook, will be well-served by incorporating a password manager into their life. You don’t know just how valuable a service like this can be until you start using it. One year from now, you’ll think back and realize that not using a password manager was a huge mistake.
Everything from robo-filling out forms to auto-filling passwords is so incredibly useful, it’s hard to imagine life when you had to type out your name, address, city, zip code, and credit card info. How awful were those times?
Using these apps is different but the same. Each app has a unique interface but they all do the same thing overall. For those who really want a good-looking tool that is feature-rich, 1Password is the right choice.
Anyone who wants a password manager with open-source code that can be checked by individuals and groups who know how to spot weaknesses will find using Bitwarden to be really comforting.
The competition for the best password manager is tough and, if you ask the same question again six months from now, the answer might be different. However, for now, 1Password takes the crown as the best password manager.
Its outstanding customer service, beautiful interface, cross-platform compatibility, and overall reputation should make it your top choice.
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