Finding the best password manager is a great way to ensure your personal information remains yours alone.
63 percent of data breaches occur in part due to weak passwords. The first and easiest step you can take to protect your personal information and keep your online identity safe is to develop a strong password.
Be aware, however, not to make the rookie mistake of going through the trouble of making a strong password but using it for every account you have. For if your password gets cracked, then anyone with malicious intent will have access to all of your accounts. That's where a password manager comes in.
Not only can password managers store passwords, usernames, and credit card information for you, their capabilities extend to include automatic logins, easy to change passwords with a single click and the ability to sync all your devices.
In this guide, we'll rank and compare the best password managers on the market, discuss what key elements you should know before making a purchase, and highlight some free alternatives.
In This Guide
The Best Password Manager: Our Top Picks
- Encrypted storage
- Affordable plans
- Master password to access all information
- Email support
- Apps for all electronic devices
- No free plans available
- Doesn't offer 24/7 customer support
1Password makes it easy to manage all your personal information through one master password. This means you can store everything from website logins to banking information to Social Security numbers through its secure system.
To keep your information secure, 1Password uses a mix of PBKDF2 and AES-256 encryption. It uses encryption from end to end so every time you use 1Password it encrypts your data, keeping you from becoming vulnerable to hacking.
Its 1Password plan starts at $2.99 per month-billed annually- and includes saved passwords for one person on all your devices. Included in this are apps for your Mac, Android or iOS device. You also receive 1GB of secure storage, email support, automatic syncing and one full year to restore deleted files or passwords.
What makes the family plan better is it includes password storage for up to five people, and you can add more family members for $1 each. Moreover, you also receive access to a suite of unique tools such as permission control, account recovery and the ability to share passwords and documents securely.
- Two-step verification
- Encrypted storage
- Measures password strengths to help you set more effective ones
- 24/7 customer support
- Individual plan is more affordable than offerings from competitors like 1Password
- Multiple customers complain they have to upgrade to retain their passwords
Keeper made our list as one of the best password manager applications because everyone from families to businesses can use it. Best of all, you can access all your important files and pass codes with the touch of your finger using Keeper's mobile apps.
What makes Keeper such a great password manager application is its simplicity. You set up a private master password and encryption key to access your data. Furthermore, you use its two-step verification, which includes verification, Keeper DNA, and fingerprint login to confirm your identity.
To protect your information, Keeper employs a strong password creator to keep your details safe from hacking attempts. Along with this, you can create passwords through Keeper and it will measure the strength of them to help you create even safer logins.
In addition, Keeper provides secure storage services to protect everything from your pictures to your private files. Keeper uses its Cloud Security Vault to back up your personal information. Similar to 1Password, it uses PBKDF2 and 256-bit encryption to keep your details secure.
- Password vault makes for seamless integration
- Security breach alerts
- Low price for paid plan
- Free version includes many good features such as password manager and digital wallet
- Uses Amazon AWS for hosting
- Priority email support only applies to paid members
Dashlane makes it simple for you to import all your passwords into its vault. From there, you can use its automatic login feature to access all your accounts. Dashlane also makes it easy to change all your password with one click.
With its password changer, you select the accounts you want to change login information on and the system does the rest. As you can see Dashlane makes it incredibly simple to manage your information.
Along with the password manager, Dashlane has many other features you can take advantage of. Its digital wallet gives you the ability to store all your payment types through its secure software. In addition, you can use its features when shopping online, where it will fill out check out information automatically and can take pictures or screenshots of your receipts. This makes shopping and storing receipts secure and simple.
What makes Dashlane unique is its security dashboard. When you access its dashboard, it displays the vulnerable passwords you have in your vault as well as which ones might have been compromised. This is an invaluable way to strengthen passwords to protect your personal information easily.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Password Manager
When searching for a password manager app you'll want to keep several things in consideration:
Protecting your information is of primary importance. For instance, if the password manager doesn't offer secure storage of your passwords and credit card numbers via an encrypted database, it could make you susceptible to having your online account passwords hacked or your card numbers stolen.
With this in mind, the best password manager will offer encrypted database storage using a mix of PBKDF2, AES-256 and/or two-step authentication to keep your passwords safe.
Two-factor authentication is when you have to wait for a code to be sent to your email or phone and type in the code to access your account. AES encryption is a symmetric encryption algorithm that will keep your passwords and information safe from prying third-parties, according to aesencryption.net. The Dashlane Password Manager offers two-factor authentication and AES encryption (AES-256) to secure your information.
Considering that in 2014, 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft, finding secure ways to keep your information safe could prevent this from occurring to you. While a password manager can help, you should also practice internet safety procedures to prevent identity theft.
Additionally, if you use an online password manager, keep in mind that your information may be less safe than if you use an offline password manager. Online password managers store passwords and other information over the Internet, so it's extra important to make sure they're secure. You can learn how to secure your WiFi to ensure all Internet communications are encrypted; this way you don't have to worry.
Related: Internet Safety for Kids
2. Ease of Access
Having easy access to your account passwords can be a time-saver, especially if you do many things from a mobile device.
This is why you should find a provider that offers a mobile application with fingerprint authentication to access your information. Fingerprint authentication will save you time and keep you protected.
Along with secure password storage and automatic login, many password managers providers offer a suite of unique features such as giving you the ability to change your password remotely or sync all your devices to better manage your login information. If you choose a paid service to store your passwords, it's important to compare the unique features offered by different companies to find the best password manager.
For example, if you own a business, you may be looking for a password repository, one which puts all important passwords and credential information into one streamlined vault for everyone within the company to access. The Password Vault Manager may be your best bet in this situation.
The Password Vault Manager can help your business "manage user security rights and access, reduce help desk support calls and strengthen your network security by generating only strong and unique passwords," according to their website.
4. Customer service/technical support
If you don't have much technical expertise you might need some support along the way.
However, there's nothing more frustrating than trying to do access your information and have slow response times from tech support. How companies handle client care may have a strong influence on which password manager you choose.
Do they have 24/7 support available? If they do, it means you'll have around the clock access to help.
There are two ways to measure a provider's reputation: service reliability and how they treat their customers.
We use both to identify the best password manager companies.
6. Open Source or Proprietary?
You should also take into consideration whether your password manager of choice is an open source or proprietary software. Open source means the code used to create and modify the software is widely available on the Internet, whereas proprietary software's code is a secret, according to Greennet.org. This could affect security.
Web Browser Password Managers
Many of the best password managers offer their password plugins for a variety of web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.
You can find which browsers they support by visiting their websites and examining the technical specifications each provider requires. You may even be able to find password management within your browser. For example, Internet Explorer has a step-by-step process outlined on the Windows Club website.
Additionally, you should think about your browser's privacy and safety settings before you purchase a password manager. You can check out our guide where we compare which Internet browser has the best privacy features.
Related: How to Clear Your Cache
Password Management Software
Speaking of technical requirements, when you do find password software you would like to install, the baseline standard for operating systems, using Dashlane Password Manager's guide is the following:
- Windows: XP, 7, Vista, XP, 8, 8.1, 10
- Mac OS and Mac OS X: Yosemite 10.10, Sierra 10.12, El Capitan 10.11
- Android: Android devices 4.0-4.4.4 (this includes Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kit Kat), Android devices 5.0-5.1.1 (Lollipop), Android 6 (Marshmallow), Android 7 (Nougat)
- iOS: iOS 9, iOS 10
Password Management App
If your primary access to the internet is through a mobile device or tablet, having a password management app is a helpful way to organize your login information and make changes as needed. In addition, many apps allow for password creation and will work in unison with password apps, meaning you can store website and app logins.
You should also be able to make in-app purchases for advanced features. For example, the iOs Secret Password Manager offers unlimited items with an in-app purchase.
Read More: Passwords are secure, but what would make your logins and internet usage more secure are VPN services. We have a list of the top VPN services for you to examine.
Free Password Managers
If you aren't interested in a premium version a password manager, there are other options. Typically, many providers, such as the Password Keeper manager will offer free password manager services on a single device with local storage features.
If you want more comprehensive services you'll have to pay a monthly fee for the premium version, which depends on the provider and services offered.
- The iCloud Keychain is a free Apple cloud service that stores Safari website usernames and passwords, credit card information, and Wi-Fi network information and keeps it up to date for you. Check the iCloud Keychain section on Apple's website to access their free cloud service.
- Dashlane Password Manager offers free services as well. Dashlane offers digital wallet services, which you may have to pay for. If you're interested, you can manage credit card information on top of password via their digital wallet feature.
- FastPass is another free password generator with multifactor authentication. Multifactor authentication is similar to two-factor authentication, except it uses more than two methods to verify your identity.
- Password Safe is a free open source software for password management that will encrypt your stored information using a Master Key. Password Safe is only for Windows 7 or later, however.
- The Google Authenticator is a two-step verification tool for Google accounts to help keep them more secure. You can download the Google Authenticator app or learn how to install and set it up on the Google Authenticator website.
Free Password Generators
If you also need help turning weak passwords into secure passwords, you can use a free or paid password generator. A password generator will use a specific algorithm to generate strong passwords. You can also check out our guide on how to create a strong password if you think you have weak passwords.
If you don't generate strong passwords, you're leaving your information open to hackers.
As you can see there are many quality password manager providers available for you to choose between. When exploring options, be mindful of a company's reputation, service offerings and security measures for protecting your data. This will help you find the best password manager for you.
I hope this review has been helpful for you. As you decide on which provider to choose, you can learn more about how to keep your personal information safe by consulting our Online Privacy & Internet Safety guide.
To secure your online account identity and personal information to another level, you can read our buyer's guide to identity theft protection providers and our step-by-step guide on how to encrypt your email.