And let's be honest: Complex passwords are difficult to remember, so many users have defaulted to passwords like "password," "abc," their pet's name and other hacker-friendly naming conventions. In a world where password breaches can affect hundreds of millions of users, it's plausible that your passwords may already be floating around the seedier corners of the internet.
A password manager servers many purposes, all of them helpful. It keeps all your passwords under one encrypted and password-protected roof. It generates strong passwords for you and automatically inserts them when you log into different sites. It can even store payment information to simplify online shopping. Almost all these tools work on the principle that you create a master password for access to your identity vault, and then the password manager fills in individual user IDs and passwords for the sites and apps you use. One benefit of this approach is, because you no longer have to recall the passwords yourself, you can give each site or app a different, complex and hard to remember password.
All your passwords in one place? What if a hacker gains access to your master password? Likewise, if a hacker manages to breach the central vault of the password management company, it's possible that millions of account credentials could be stolen in a single hack. There are defenses to both these concerns.
Most password managers employ multifactor authentication, so access to your credential vault is granted only with both a correct password and a correct authentication code. That code exists only on a device you own, limiting the ability for someone across the world to gain access to your information. Master vaults are also usually protected by the vendors by encrypting your password information locally, before it ever leaves your devices. That information is stored, in an encrypted form, on the servers operated by the vendors.
In most cases, this is strong enough security. Even so, some people prefer to store all their passwords locally meaning only on their devices, not some central server. There are also issues of jurisdiction, where some users don't want their passwords stored in certain countries, in case of governmental intervention. Where possible, we've pointed out which services give you the option of determining how your passwords are stored.
We also give credit for the platforms supported, the browsers supported and whether or not the secure vault acts as a secure wallet, storing and organizing other information like credit cards. Almost all of them do.
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As for pricing, nearly every service offers a free trial. We've shared the single-user prices below, but many password managers offer family, team and enterprise plans as well. Let's look at some of the top password managers. Check back often, as we'll be updating this listing as these services continue to evolve.
It also allows your data to be isolated to specific regions in the world, so access outside those regions is not available and the data isn't stored in those regions. Like many of these products, Keeper supports bio-metric login finger print and face recognition on mobile. Keeper records can be shared with those who have a paid Keeper account. It picked up points because it allows you to designate a legacy or emergency contact who can have access to your data in the event of an emergency. There is a family plan available, as well as plans for businesses and teams. Blur is the only all-in-one solution to protect your passwords, payments and privacy.
Blur is built on an extremely secure Password Manager foundation, with a wide variety of unique online privacy features that have never been combined into a single product in the past. An earlier version of the product was a browser extension called MaskMe, but it's morphed into a full security product for consumers. Blur offers both local storage and a cloud-based vault, as well as the usual password capture, autofill and password generator.
What makes Blur unique is how it goes beyond the digital wallet concept to help you communicate while also protecting your identity. It allows you to create one-use credit card numbers, so you're never giving your real number away. It also allows you to create a virtual phone number, so if you need to give someone your digits, you can keep your real number private. And the company puts its money behind its namesake: A portion of the license fee for every copy of Sticky Password sold is donated to the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club. That still left me with about 20 contenders, so the next thing I looked for was popularity as reflected by frequent positive press coverage and evidence of an enthusiastic fan base.
I focused my testing on usability. Rather than test every combination of app, platform, browser, and feature off the bat, I set up a simple set of test forms on my own server that enabled me to evaluate how each app performed basic tasks such as capturing manually entered usernames and passwords, filling in those credentials on demand, and dealing with contact and credit card data. But if my initial experiences with an app were good, I also tried that app with as many additional platforms and browsers as I could in order to form a more complete picture of its capabilities.
I did portions of my testing on macOS For subscription accounts, all decryption is local, and requires both your master password and an Account Key. LastPass, Dashlane , and 1Password are significantly better than the rest of the field but see my comments later about Keeper , which is moving up quickly. They were all so impressive, and so evenly matched in most respects, that at various points I had each one of them in the top spot. I suspect most people would be equally happy with any of them. What tipped the scales in favor of LastPass was that it now offers cross-device syncing formerly a paid feature for free.
LastPass has the broadest platform support of any password manager I considered, either free or paid. Its autofill feature is flexible and nicely designed. An Automatic Password Change feature works on many popular sites to let you change many passwords with one click, and a Security Challenge alerts you to passwords that are weak, old, or duplicates, or are for sites that have suffered data breaches.
And the relatively new LastPass Families feature lets you securely share passwords among family members. Sorry—no BlackBerry, Palm, or Symbian support. In a previous version of this guide, I said that LastPass was your only good option for Chromebooks. The next time you visit that site, LastPass fills in your credentials by default though you can disable auto-fill per site if you prefer ; you then need only click Log In or the equivalent button to log in.
If even that is more effort than you want to expend, you can ask LastPass to automatically submit the login form for any given site, although doing so may increase security risks.
Handling saved identity and credit card data is also simple, although LastPass always requires you to take explicit action before filling in your credit card number. If you need to give someone else access to one or more of your passwords without sending the info in plain text, you can share it using LastPass; the other person will need to have or create a LastPass account to view or use a shared password. In addition, you can designate someone as an emergency contact who can request access to your data under exceptional circumstances—if, for example, you die or become incapacitated.
Dashlane and Keeper offer similar emergency contact features; 1Password does not, although it provides numerous other ways to securely share passwords. One of my favorite LastPass features, Auto Change Password, comes in handy if a site has had a security breach or you simply realize your old password is too weak. When you select a site in LastPass and click the Auto Change Password link, LastPass opens a new window, logs in to that site with your existing credentials, generates a new random password, changes your password on that site, and updates its own database with the new password.
Dashlane has a comparable feature; 1Password does not. Most of the password managers I tested have some sort of security audit feature that checks for passwords in your database that are weak, old, or duplicates from other sites. LastPass calls this feature Security Challenge; in addition to the checks I just mentioned, it also alerts you to passwords saved for sites known to have had security breaches. LastPass works well on mobile platforms, too. It even works on Apple Watch and Android Wear smartwatches, on which you can search and display your passwords and other secure data.
A feature called LastPass Families allows family members to securely share passwords, bank account information, passport numbers, and so forth. You can add and remove family members at any time, give each person read-only or read-write access, and use shared folders to control which passwords each person can access for example, so you can give your child the garage-door key code but not your credit card number. The most important thing a password manager needs to do is to keep your data safe, so any type of security flaw is a concern.
Both of these flaws were quickly fixed. Other flaws and vulnerabilities have also surfaced and been quickly fixed from time to time. Although in each instance the company took prompt measures to mitigate the damage and strengthen its infrastructure, the fact that LastPass is inherently cloud-based poses a risk some people will want to avoid.
Partly because of the limitations of squeezing its user interface into browser extensions, LastPass has less visual polish than 1Password. My only other quibble with LastPass is that the free version shows ads in its Web interface. So, as ads go, these are as inoffensive as can be. Windows users, especially, are better off with LastPass.
AgileBits, the developer, says this limitation is for security reasons, as highlighted by a recently publicized exploit that works against browser password managers. Even when you opt to store your vault in the cloud with one of the 1Password subscription plans, your master password and account key are never stored in the cloud or transmitted over the network.
You can create more than one vault, too—either for organizational convenience or to share each one with a different set of people. Speaking of which, the options for sharing selected groups of passwords with family members or coworkers who also have paid accounts are extensive and powerful.
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One of my favorite 1Password features, which a few other password managers have now adopted too, is a built-in TOTP time-based one-time password generator and viewer. And its desktop interface for setting up a TOTP is truly brilliant: And once 1Password has filled in your credentials on a webpage, it automatically copies your TOTP to your clipboard so you can immediately paste it without having to make another round trip to the app. Another feature, recently introduced , lets you see if your password has been leaked in a security breach by checking their hashes against the Pwned Password master list.
So, although a family of five would end up paying the same per person as for a LastPass Premium subscription, individuals on a yearly subscription pay 50 percent more than LastPass Premium users. It does include Windows and Mac browser extensions, and you can use Dropbox or—on Mac—iCloud for syncing. You can also sync manually. Sticky Password supports USB export, so you can load your entire vault onto a flash drive.
The data on that drive is readable from any Sticky Password instance. Some of the cost goes towards the Save the Manatee Club. You can learn more in our Sticky Password review or download it for free. The free version comes with a day trial of Premium. Keeper has a strong focus on its business password manager, but its personal offerings are great, too.
The Best Password Managers
Keeper is about the same price as LastPass. That price gets you unlimited password storage and sync, secure cloud backup and unlimited secure record sharing. Keeper also supports biometric authentication and can be used solely in your browser. More attractive is the family plan.
Like LastPass, it offers five licenses for the price of two. In addition to all features offered with the individual plan, the family plan also comes with 10GB of secure cloud storage. On desktop, you also have access to KeeperFill. It allows you to use Keeper to auto-fill application data from your desktop using hotkeys. Since Keeper can store a variety of data, having emergency access to that personal Information is important. You can setup time frames when your vault is unlocked and the trusted users can access it. This is the only form of account restoration.
Keeper uses a zero-knowledge model, meaning it never sees your master password or vault data. In the event you forget your master password, the only way to restore your account is through emergency access. It has extras such as a self-destruct timer on messages and a private media gallery, too. While the desktop application could use some work, Keeper is nevertheless an excellent password manager.
It uses Apple cloud storage service, iCloud, to backup your passwords, a feature that you can turn off during setup read our iCloud review for our thoughts on that service. Keychain can store passwords, WiFi logins, credit card information and more. Developers for macOS can also write support for Keychain into their applications. This means you can use it to login on desktop applications. Additionally, importing passwords from another manager or exporting them for use with another manager are likely to cause headaches. ElcomSoft, a Russian forensics software developer, was able to access and decrypt Keychain data under certain conditions using Phone Breaker 7.
As such, Keychain falls victim to the same inferent flaw as other browser password managers, such as the one offered with Chrome. Likewise, it lacks the functionality to be used across multiple operating systems and browser. Our first choice for Mac is Dashlane for its large set of features and excellent security. It comes with a hefty price tag, though, which may make another option, such as 1Password , more appealing. What password manager are you using on Mac?
Let us know in the comments and, as always, thanks for reading. I started out trying all of them. Now trying 1Password that I fin complex and ser unfriendly. I dislike it most of all that I tried. Support I weak…regurgitate a list of reading literature that is not helpful. Takes Many failed attempts to setup with minimal effective instruction. I really dislike this software. Table of Contents. Dashlane Review. Visit Dashlane. Excellent security Password changer Dark web monitoring. Expensive Limited free plan. Inexpensive Travel Mode Password backup.
No free plan. Visit 1Password. Excellent free plan Support for multiple data types Offline support. Mediocre premium offering. LastPass Review. Visit LastPass.