A password manager might seem relatively straightforward, but there’s a variety of different features that differentiate a good one from an excellent one.
For example, what you should expect from a password manager is a password generator that lets you set length and character usage, the ability to auto-capture forms as you fill them, cross-platform and browser support, and the ability to organize your password. Ideally, you should have access to two-factor authentication at the minimum and multi-factor authentication such as U2F.
These managers also typically have a password health score or analysis for your passwords that will tell you how strong they are. Similarly, your password manager should warn you if your passwords appear in leaks posted to sites on the dark web and elsewhere.
Finally, you want to have good auto-fill performance, including for multiple-page logins. It’s also a nice bonus to have a password manager that allows you to add other bits of auto-fill information, such as credit card details and passport numbers—anything that needs to be used often, is difficult to remember, but must also remain secure.
Additional features largely depend on your use case and what you want to get out of your password manager. If you want to share passwords with your family, then a family or one-to-many share feature is handy. Family subscriptions can also help you save on costs while keeping everyone’s information safe.
But, what tends to be the big decider when it comes to password managers is the interface. We suggest you take a good look at all of them and pick one that you think works best for you. If you’re not using your password manager because it’s too difficult or clunky to use, then it’s not doing its job!
This is all a lot to keep in mind, but here are our picks for the best password managers around.
Best Free Password Manager: Bitwarden
- ✓ Best free option
- ✓ Open-source
- ✓ Cheap subscription cost
- ✓ Very secure
- ✗ Basic and minimalist UI
- ✗ Only 1GB of encrypted storage for premium users
The most interesting thing about Bitwarden is that not only is it the best free password manager, it’s also one of the few password managers that are open-source. That means that if you are tech-savvy, you can download the server files and host them yourself without needing to pay a subscription fee.
If you don’t want to go through all that, though, you can still use Bitwarden for free. The free plan is a bit barebones compared to other options on this list, with only email and app two-factor authentication. But if you don’t need features like encrypted file storage, then Bitwarden will be a good password manager for you.
Additionally, the user interface and experience are streamlined and minimalist. Capturing passwords and usernames is easy when you’re using a browser, as is form-filling.
Unfortunately, the experience doesn’t transfer as cleanly to mobile devices, but if you’re not planning on using Bitwarden on your smartphone or tablet, this won’t be a concern.
If you try Bitwarden’s free tier like the cut of its gib, then you’ll want to spend the $10/year to get yourself the manager’s premium features. This tier includes features like emergency access, expanded two-factor authentication, and priority support. You also get 1GB of encrypted storage, perfect for storing some important files.
The best free password manager is also one of the best password managers out there with its minimalist and straightforward interface. It’s also open-source, and even the premium version is a bargain at only $10 per year.
Best Paid Password Manager: 1Password
- ✓ Great multi-platform performance
- ✓ Intuitive and easy to use interface
- ✓ Multi-factor authentication
- ✗ No free version
- ✗ Mobile experience could be better
In contrast to Bitwarden, 1Password is the best paid password manager overall. By nixing a free version and only offering a 14-day free trial, 1Password focuses on a strong paid service. It’s a cohesive package at just $3/month for an individual or $5/month for a family plan, which can be shared among up to five people.
1Password has a lot of features for the price, too. Travel Mode allows you to set sensitive data to be deleted automatically when traveling across borders and restored with a simple click when somewhere safe. There’s also an interesting feature that allows you to send secure information using a temporary web link, which is pretty handy if you often need to exchange sensitive data like family passwords.
Aside from these security features, the other big selling point is the user interface and application, which feels much more developed in design than Bitwarden. 1Password will likely be easier to use for those new to password managers or who don’t have a lot of tech knowledge but still want great security.
Either way, the cross-platform functionality for 1Password is one of the best in the business, and we’ll happily note that 1Password also supports biometric logins wherever they are available. There’s also a wide selection of alternative authentication methods if you’d prefer to avoid biometrics, such as key-based multi-factor authentication.
The only real downside to 1Password is that you only get 1GB of encrypted storage, which is a letdown given that Bitwarden costs a third of the price and offers the same storage space. Nonetheless, it’s not a deal-breaker, especially since most use-cases won’t be taking that much storage space up.
1Password is perhaps the best password manager in the business. It’s packed with features, offers excellent security, and ties everything together with a nice user-friendly interface and slick, modern apps.
Best Password Manager and VPN Combo: Dashlane
- ✓ VPN included with plan
- ✓ Bulk password management
- ✓ Great interface
- ✗ The included VPN isn't helpful if you already have a service
- ✗ Issue with multi-page logins
The first thing you’ll notice in the pros and cons list above is that we’ve included the VPN as both a pro and a con for Dashlane. We imagine that most people who are interested in VPNs already have a VPN service and aren’t necessarily looking for a new one. That being said, if you don’t have a VPN and want one, then Dashlane is a great deal at $5/month.
Much like its competitors, Dashlane has a Password Health analysis, which not only tells you how strong your passwords are but whether they are reused as well. Like 1Password, Dashlane also promises it can update your passwords automatically, but the feature is hit or miss.
Much like 1Password, Dashlane’s interface is pretty intuitive easy for most people to use. The ease of use doesn’t mean you lose any advanced features like key-based multi-factor authentication or secure not sharing, though. Unfortunately, it only has 1GB of encrypted storage, which is a bit of a shame for a more expensive product than Bitwarden.
Like other password managers, Dashlane also has a capable form-filling tool built-in.
Dashlane is a solid password manager, and it’s also the only option here that includes a VPN service. If you want to upgrade your digital security all at once, this is the manager to buy.
Also One of the Best Password Managers: LastPass
- ✓ Great cross-platform support
- ✓ Password inheritance options
- ✗ Free version is lackluster
- ✗ Desktop app is too simple
While LastPass does offer a free version of its service, the truth is that other password managers’ free accounts far outshine it. If this is the password manager you choose, you’ll want to pay for the $36/year premium account to get all of its features.
On the premium plan, LastPass has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a good password manager. You have dark web monitoring for password leaks, a variety of multi-factor authentication options such as hardware security key compatibility, and a friendly user interface. There are also secure notes, temporary password sharing, and 1GB of encrypted storage.
Also, while not particularly nice to think about, LastPass offers an emergency access feature if something happens to you and somebody else needs access to your accounts.
As for the overall experience, the interface is well thought out and relatively intuitive, although the desktop app does leave some space for improvement. Nonetheless, the browser extensions work wonderfully, and LastPass has both iPhone and Android versions of the app for your smart devices.
However, there are some downsides. The paid version of LastPass is now the same price as 1Password, but we prefer 1Password’s interface and features. LastPass’s free plan is also lacking compared to Bitwarden’s offerings.
That being said, LastPass’s family plan is $4 a month compared to 1Password’s $5 a month, so LastPass has the advantage if your budget is tight.
LastPass was once the undisputed crowning champion of password managers. It’s still one of the best password managers out there, with many great features and an intuitive interface.
Best Offline Password Manager: KeePassXC
- ✓ Completely open-source
- ✓ Control your own password database
- ✗ No cross-device syncing
- ✗ Dated interface aesthetics
KeePassXC is an interesting password manager in that it is community-driven and completely open-source. That means that not only is it completely free, but it also relies on you to get it up and running since there’s no cloud or cross-platform syncing.
All of your passwords are encrypted and stored locally, so if you want to access them on a new device, you have to save the password file, upload it to a cloud storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox, and then download it and import it on the new device.
While that may seem like a lot of work, the truth is that this is more secure than cloud-based storage and syncing and essentially puts the security of your passwords directly in your hands.
It also means that you aren’t going to get things like 1GB of encrypted file storage, one-to-many sharing, or any of the features you’d expect from other password managers on the list, and that’s by design.
By making a bare-bones password manager, KeePassXC can remain free and safer, especially since the project doesn’t have to worry about data breaches or a company shutting down the service.
As for platform support, KeePassXC only offers software for Mac, Linux, and Windows. On your phone, you can use a third-party app that’s compatible with KeePassXC. There are KeePassXC browser extensions for autofill, too. Thankfully, there is an auto-fill that works through the use of an auto-fill shortcut key, so you don’t have to worry about copy-pasting stuff constantly.
So should you get KeePassXC? It’s an interesting password manager, and while you do give up convenience, there are some benefits in the form of not relying on others for your password management. If that appeals to you, then it’s certainly worth a try—after all, it’s completely free!
KeePassXC doesn’t offer cloud-based syncing, but that’s the point. It’s the perfect product if you want to be in charge of your own security.
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