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Password security is an issue that has plagued the internet for decades now, and that does not appear to be changing anytime soon. With many companies now requiring two-factor authentication and lengthy combinations of words, numbers, and symbols to sign up for their services, it is evident how irresponsible we’ve been over the years in deciding what string of characters we’ll use as the keys to our accounts. Passwords like Pass123 and simply “password” will no longer cut it in 2021, and thus, it is more important than ever to get your hands on one of the best password managers to keep your information secure.
A password manager is a digital vault that can store and oftentimes even create passwords so that you don’t have to keep track of them in unsecured locations, such as a sticky note on your desktop, or even worse, in an email sent to yourself. Password managers can also be useful for sharing passwords with others within organizations. With a business account, one person can drop login credentials (typically an email address or username/password combo) into the password manager using either a browser extension or a mobile application. One of their colleagues can then pull that data to autofill sign-in fields or take a peek at the password itself.
But what makes the best password manager? Strong encryption, for one, should be your top priority as you’re deciding which password manager to employ. Having as many layers of protection as possible helps to prevent the vulnerabilities that a hacker could exploit to leak your information without your consent. Ease of use is another plus, since no one wants to go through hoops just to learn how to use a product that is supposed to make life easier. Then there is the price. While some password managers are free, others have free trials that automatically lead into paid subscriptions. And, of course, you’ll want to make sure your password manager is compatible with the devices you’ll be using it on as well.
To help you find the best password manager for your needs, we’ve put together a handy guide designed to enlighten those looking to improve their account security and never have to dig through their files to find that missing login information again.
Best Password Manager Overall: 1Password ($3/Month)
User-friendly, jam-packed with features, and well-priced, 1Password is the best password manager for most people. It’s compatible with virtually any platform you can think of — from operating systems (OSes) such as Windows, macOS, and Linux to web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, or Opera. With advanced features such as Touch ID sign-in for macOS, 1Password delivers cutting-edge functionality.
Mobile device support is great, with apps for both Android and iOS. iPhone users benefit from Face ID support. Using only one master password, you can comb through all of your accounts in a clean, modern interface that’s simple and straightforward to navigate.
The ability to create guest accounts gives you the option to share passwords for Wi-Fi networks or smart locks with friends and family. Plans start at $36 per year or $3 a month, and there’s a 14-day free trial so you can take it for a test drive. For $5 a month, you can sign up for 1Password Families and share passwords with up to five different guests.
Best Value Password Manager: LastPass
LogMeIn’s LastPass is an ultra-popular password manager, and for good reason. You’ll enjoy unlimited password storage, access to either its desktop or mobile versions, one-to-one password sharing, multi-factor authentication, and the ability to generate strong passwords from the convenience of an app or extension. It sports a wide range of compatibility options too, playing nicely with all of the same platforms as 1Password.
The free tier of LastPass is pretty good, although it’s worth stepping up to a paid premium plan. Since you’ll need to opt into a paid version to make use of certain highly sought-after features including multi-device password sync, it’s worth upgrading from the no-cost plan.
The $3/month Premium plan adds cross-device password sharing, a security dashboard, 1GB encrypted file storage, tech support, dark web monitoring, and more. The Families option at $4/month tacks on six premium licenses, a family manager dashboard, plus the ability to group and share items in folders.
Best Password Manager App: Keeper ($3/Month)
If you’re looking for a password manager app that stands out from the rest, look no further than Keeper. This secure password manager is well-known for its unified aesthetic and user experience regardless of the platforms you use it with. Not only is its appearance uncluttered and contemporary, but it’s also customizable, allowing you to change its color scheme from the default white, gray, and yellow to a more eye-popping palette of your choice.
And with apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in addition to Android and iOS on the mobile front, no one is left out of the equation. In terms of functionality, Keeper is fundamentally identical as 1Password and LastPass Premium, providing unlimited password storage, password sharing, unlimited device access, Touch ID and Face ID, and more for $3 a month.
Cross-platform password syncing across works extremely well. There’s two-factor authentication, secure file storage, and solid password sharing. With a top-notch app experience, Keeper is a fantastic choice particularly for mobile devices.
Best Free Password Manager: LastPass (Free)
Although it’s totally worth paying for a password manager, Bitwarden is an excellent free password manager. While there are paid plans, Bitwarden’s free tier is easily the most comprehensive of any password manager. Bundling the essentials of a good password manager into a no-cost package, Bitwarden provides multi-device sync support, unlimited password storage, and the ability to share a password collection with one other user.
For more tech-savvy users, Bitwarden lets you self-host your password manager. Boasting solid security, you can rest assured that your passwords are safe. Cross-platform support for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and web browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari make filling in credentials across all of your devices a breeze.
On a budget, Bitwarden is a compelling password manager. In addition to its free tier, Bitwarden includes two more tiers: Teams Organization and Enterprise Organization. For $3/month, Teams adds the ability to share private information securely with more than a two-person team, so it could be great for families and businesses alike. Stepping up to Enterprise at $5/month tacks on advanced functionality including self-hosting and single sign-on (SSO) authentication.