Best password managers in 2020

password managers falling in to the hand

We use passwords to protect our most important accounts and data. That’s why it makes sense to use only the best password manager. But do we really need one in the first place?

The answer depends on how well you can remember dozens of different passwords made from the lower case, upper case, numbers, and symbols. If your memory is not that good, you definitely need a password manager. When each year ends with multiple data breaches, re-using the same password in 2020 is counter-intuitive and irresponsible at best.

Table of Contents

The best password managers today:

  1. Dashlane – The best password manager in 2020
  2. LastPass – A solid password manager with a significantly lower price
  3. 1Password – Top service for families and businesses with full of features
  4. NordPass – Most secure and streamlined experience
  5. RememBear – Best password manager for new users

Best password managers – our curated list

Since losing one’s password might mean losing money or reputation, it seems wise to invest in the best possible protection against that. That’s why below you will find only premium password managers known for doing the job. All of them come with military-grade encryption, work on all popular platforms, and have responsive customer support.

1. Dashlane - most versatile password manager in 2020

Dashlane interface in smart devices
Price:From $4.99/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge

Don’t listen to the naysayers – Dashlane is the best password manager in 2020, even though the competitors are not that far behind. And while it costs more than your average competitor, Dashlane more than makes up for it with an impressive feature list.

Dashlane uses military-grade encryption to protect your password storage. It also supports three authentication methods, the first being Two-factor authentication (2FA). It’s a great way to protect your account even if someone gets your master password. The second factor can be something that you know (a PIN code), something that you have (a smartphone), or something that you are (Face ID).

The premium plan offers universal two-factor authentication (U2FA). This is a more secure version of 2FA where a USB or NFC device can be connected to any computer to instantly access your passwords. At the same time, U2FA is more easy-to-use because you don’t need to install anything – your device communicates with the computer via HID protocol.

Finally, we have the biometric login which can be used instead of your master password. Dashlane supports both Touch ID and Face ID, so it all depends on your device. One thing to note – the biometric login won’t replace your master password. You will need it when accessing Dashlane from a new device.

Next on Dashlane’s feature list comes the Dark web scanner. If you wish, Dashlane can use your email to check if there are any leaks, such as passwords or banking details. Having in mind that millions of new records come up every day, the Dark web scanner can be a great tool to prevent personal data theft.

Dashlane also has a built-in VPN. While it’s not on par with the best VPNs overall, it still is a good tool to encrypt your traffic and hide your IP. Besides, you can connect to 20+ countries that cover most regions.

This password manager is really easy to install and use. It works on all major platforms and has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge. You can also import passwords from most browsers, with the exception of mobile devices.

But the best part is that you get to try most of the features for free. And when you are ready, you can get the premium version for $4.99/month annually. No doubt, the Dashlane password manager is worth it.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Great autofill
  • Dark web scanning
  • VPN as a bonus

Cons

  • Not the cheapest option
  • No password import from phones

2. LastPass - most feature-rich free option

Lastpass interface in smart devices
Price:From $3.00/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edge, Edge Legacy

LastPass is a solid password manager that fiercely competes for the top spot. For some, it automatically is better than Dashlane because of a significantly lower price, starting at $3.00/month. But is there anything you leave behind apart from cash by going with LastPass?

This password manager uses the industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption. However, they also state that neither your master password nor decryption keys are sent to LastPass servers and they have no means to access such data.

LastPass uses multi-factor authentication (MFA) which can range from “something that you have” (smartphone) to biometric data (fingerprint). You can use not only the in-house authenticator but also the one from YubiKey, Sesame, Google, or Microsoft.

You can install this password manager on all major platforms and a bunch of browsers. LastPass has extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edge, and Edge Legacy. While it doesn’t support Vivaldi or Brave, the same can be said about Dashlane.

Installing and using LastPass is easy. The company has also upgraded the import/export feature. It now works without an extra component, installing which often gave problems. The autofill and autosave features work very well – you won’t need to remember anything but your master password.

For all the good we’ve said about LastPass, we also want to remind one less known fact. In 2019, the LastPass website was embedded with malicious code, resulting in more than 16 million users getting exposed. While LastPass fixed this quickly, they still ended up with a tarnished reputation.

We also missed the “24/7” paired with “customer support.” Even though LastPass states that premium users get priority support, that still means you will have to wait long enough if you’re in a different timezone. Maybe that’s the price you pay for paying less than Dashlane asks.

Pros

  • Powerful free version
  • Plenty of browser extensions
  • Fair price
  • Easily customizable

Cons

  • No live chat or phone support
  • No anonymous payment
  • Website was hacked in 2019

3. 1Password - top service for families and businesses

1password interface in smart devices
Price:From $2.99/month
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Brave, Firefox, Edge

1Password is a truly powerful tool to store, generate, and manage your passwords. It’s adequately-priced and full of features, although not without some rough edges.

1Password uses military-grade encryption. As always, you need only one password, the so-called Master Password. However, you can use a biometric login instead, which can be both fingerprint or face ID. Another 2FA option is to use your phone to generate a one-time password.

This password manager has autofill and synchronizes your data across all devices. It also makes sharing passwords easy by setting up guest accounts. And the best part is that contrary to the competition, 1Password has no limit for the number of users that can share your account.

1Password has two other features that we really loved. The first one is called the Watchtower. It’s a dark web scanner, similar to the one that Dashlane has. However, this one also checks if a website supports 2FA and whether it uses HTTPS.

Travel Mode is the second feature that we wanted to discuss. Essentially, it’s for hiding sensitive information on your phone while you’re away. If you lose the phone or someone steals it, you can be sure that all personal information is safe. Find out what it is capable of in our 1Password review.

In addition to all major platforms, 1Password also supports Chrome OS and command line. When it comes to browser extensions, you can choose from Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Brave. The latter isn’t supported by Dashlane and LastPass.

Switching to 1Password is easy. You can import from Chrome, plain CSV, and other popular password managers, including LastPass and Dashlane. And while it doesn’t have a free version, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.

While the price of 1Passwords starts at $2.99/month annually, you can get a great Family plan for 5 users that cost $4.99/month. Inviting another member is $1.00/month extra and there are another 5 slots for guests with limited access. Of course, all this wouldn’t work if 1Password didn’t offer unlimited simultaneous connections.

Pros

  • Checks for compromised passwords
  • Good price
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 email support

Cons

  • No free version
  • No live chat support

4. NordPass - most secure and streamlined experience

Nordpass interface in smart devices
Price:From $2.49/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, and Edge

Launched in 2019, NordPass is part of the online security suite that includes NordLocker file encryption and NordVPN. Despite being young, this password manager is already among the top, ready to climb even further. So what makes NordPass worth your time?

To start with, NordPass walks the extra mile to offer next-gen XChaCha20 encryption with Argon 2 for key derivation. While there's nothing wrong with AES 256-bit used by the competitors, XChaCha20 is easier to integrate and less prone to misconfiguration. Add in zero-knowledge architecture, and you've got yourself a truly secure password manager app.

Learning to use NordPass is a breeze. Just like the rest, it uses a master password to protect your vault and synchronizes all data across devices. There's also an option to use Touch ID or Face ID (iOS only) instead. For 2FA, you will need the authentication app and an email where a 6-digit code will be sent.

While NordPass is user-friendly, it still lacks features compared to the rest. You can generate passwords and evaluate their strength, use autofill & autosave, and share login credentials. The developers recently added a Data Breach Scanner that scans leaked databases for your passwords and credit card details. However, we missed some cloud storage for secure files (there's a separate NordLocker app accessible via the same account) or an alternative to the in-house authenticator app.

NordPass does have some unique features, though. You can organize your data in folders for easier access and use OCR to automatically scan text information from credit cards, documents, and photos. What's more, the Offline mode will let you access your vault even when there's no internet connection.

This password manager has apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. When it comes to browser extensions, one would be hard-pressed to find a wider selection. You can install NordPass on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, and Edge.

NordPass also offers plenty of options to import your passwords. That includes the most popular password managers, except Zoho Vault, and the most popular browsers, except Safari. Unfortunately, you will have to manually check if the exported file meets NordPass criteria.

The free version is pretty powerful, even though it allows only one active device and lacks secure sharing and Trusted Contacts. Starting from $2.49/month bi-annually, NordPass won't break your bank and will give you 30-days to change your mind. Besides, it also accepts AmazonPay and cryptocurrencies.

Finally, NordPass has great customer support, which includes 24/7 live chat, email, and an ever-growing knowledge base. It's only a matter of time when they add more features and challenge Dashlane for the #1 spot on the best password managers list.

Pros

  • Next-gen XChaCha20 encryption
  • Cheaper than most
  • Powerful free version
  • Anonymous payment option
  • Data breach scanner

Cons

  • Doesn’t scan the dark web
  • Premium version lacks features

5. RememBear - best password manager for new users

Remembear interface in smart devices
Price:From $2.50/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

From the makers of TunnelBear VPN comes a product that aims to further bear-ify the world. Introducing RememBear, a fun, furry, and user-friendly password manager. But don’t let the looks fool you – inside this bear, you’ll find not intestines but an unlimited storage space for your data, encrypted with a bank-grade cipher.

RememBear is an independently-audited password manager that lets you store, sync, and generate passwords. You can also save notes, credit cards, and logins, which can be later used for autofill. Just like the rest, RememBear supports 2FA and biometrics (fingerprint and face). And should you lose your master password, a unique New Device Key can be used to access your account.

When it comes to importing, you can transfer passwords, credit cards, and notes from 1Password and LastPass. RememBear can also import from Chrome. All in all, this is a poor selection that will make you think twice if you already have an established database.

RememBear has apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. There are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, but they aren’t stand-alone. The company cites security concerns as the reason, but this sounds weird when the competitors don’t have this problem.

The free version might give you a glimpse of what RememBear has to offer, but there are some serious limitations. For starters, you won’t be able to back up your passwords, which means you will probably have to store the second copy somewhere else in a less-safe fashion. Also, syncing between devices is not allowed, so after creating a database at home you may find yourself locked out while on the go. Last but not least, the free version doesn’t come with priority support, so getting a reply might take a while.

RememBear starts from $2.50/month, which is considered cheap among premium password managers. Unfortunately, the features advertised as “Premium” are given away for free by most competitors. Even the priority customer support doesn’t sound that exciting because it’s neither live nor 24/7. All in all, we can recommend RememBear to bear lovers and bears.

Pros

  • One of the cheapest
  • Unlimited storage
  • Easy-to-use
  • Simple master password recovery

Cons

  • Few import options
  • Free version is a lackluster
  • No anonymous payment

6. Keeper - for those who want ALL the features

Keeper interface in smart devices
Price:From $2.91/month
Free version:No, 30-day free trial
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, Internet Explorer

Keeper is a solid and secure password manager that uses military-grade encryption and a zero-knowledge approach. That means your data is encrypted not on the server but on your device and only you can decipher it. Of course, a good master password is a must to reap all these benefits.

All password managers must have some sort of Two-factor authentication, and Keeper comes with a bunch of options. You can use SMS, Google and Microsoft authenticator (TOTP), RSA SecurID, Duo Security, U2F (YubiKey), and KeeperDNA. The latter is a proprietary 2FA option that allows biometric authentication using a smartphone or a smartwatch.

Keeper is a feature-rich service. In fact, some of them aren’t available on any other password manager. One of those is KeeperChat – a secure messaging system with self-destructing messages and a media gallery for private photo sessions and saxophone-heavy music videos. Another one, Security Audit, checks all your passwords, evaluates their strength and suggests changing the weak ones. There’s also a dark web scanner named Breach Watch that checks if your usernames or passwords haven’t been stolen.

Most likely, you will be able to import from your current password manager or web browser to Keeper. It supports Dashlane, 1Password, ZOHO, and others. When it comes to browsers, you can import from Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and even Internet Explorer. Export is available to PDF, .csv, or .json file.

Keeper has apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. As for the browser extensions, they’ve decided to use them for auto-filling login credentials only. Naturally, this enhances compatibility – the so-called KeeperFill works with Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge, and IE. Finally, you can also login to your vault from Keeper’s website.

There’s no free version this time, but you can try Keeper for one month without exposing your payment info. This should be enough to see that these guys are serious about securing your data, even if you get only the web application for free. There’s also a 14-day free trial for B2B clients.

Keeper has a mid-range price of $2.91/month, billed annually. However, features like KeepChat and Dark Web monitoring cost extra. Then there are personal, family, student, business, and enterprise plans, so the final price depends on who you are and what you want from life. And should you need help picking the plan, Keeper’s 24/7 live chat support will gladly help you out.

Pros

  • Great compatibility
  • 24/7 live chat customer support
  • Private messaging app
  • Multiple 2FA options

Cons

  • Few export options
  • No free version
  • Outdated interface

7. Zoho Vault - part of the best cybersecurity suite for teams

Zoho Vault interface in smart devices
Price:From $0.90/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi

Most of the best password managers are consumer-oriented. Even if they have a business solution, the B2C segment drives their revenue. That’s not the case with Zoho Vault, which is somewhere between the consumer and the business sector. However, the company positions Vault as a password manager for teams.

Some password managers are part of an online security suite that includes a VPN or a file encryption tool. In the meantime, Zoho has a huge list of apps that integrate with Vault, which is just one of many services available. The same can be said about third-party software – this password manager offers single sign-on for Office 365, Windows AD, Dropbox, and ZenDesk, among others.

Zoho Vault uses military-grade encryption and zero-knowledge architecture. Your master password is protected with the PBKDF2 algorithm which gives it more strength. You can also set up 2FA using the One-Time-Password algorithm (OTP), voice call, Yubikey, Google authenticator, or proprietary OneAuth.

This password manager supports over 400 sites, meaning that you’ll be able to quickly login to most of your accounts. Zoho Vault has a sophisticated password sharing system that gives you multi-layer filters, time-restricted access, and one-click approval or revoke. You can also easily specify how often your team has to change passwords and automatically inform everyone when this happens.

You can import to Zoho Vault from more than 20 apps and browsers, including Dashlane, LastPass, 1Password, and Keeper. Unfortunately, importing from Safari or Edge is unavailable. Export is available in either simple .csv or the one that fits Zoho Vault’s format.

Zoho Vault doesn’t have a desktop app and uses a web application instead. There are clients for Android and iOS, though. As for the browser extensions, the selection is pretty wide. You can pick from Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, and Vivaldi.

The free version is pretty strong, lacking only cloud backup and more business-oriented features. You can get all that plus priority support for just $0.9/month, billed annually. And for $3.60/month, five devices per account are allowed, in addition to sharing folders and password access reports.

Zoho Vault offers support via email, submitting a form, or a 24×5 call line. While we’d switch the latter for a live chat, it’s still a great feature, knowing that some of the best password managers use only email. Finally, the outdated web application interface is already being updated, making Zoho Vault even more attractive to both users and business entities.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Great autofill
  • Dark web scanning
  • VPN as a bonus

Cons

  • Not the cheapest option
  • No password import from phones

8. Enpass – one of the most flexible and secure password managers

Enpass interface in smart devices
Price:From $1/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi

Enpass is an excellent example of the minimalistic password manager. That doesn't necessarily mean that's a bad thing. If you need a simple to use solution, Enpass is one of the best options to consider. It works cross-platform, but it's primarily designed to use offline. You can configure syncing options between different devices using third-party cloud hosting platforms like OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc.

You shouldn't be afraid of storing the data in their servers. It's encrypted using AES-256 military-grade cypher with SQLCIPHER extension. You can lock this data with a master key and a keyfile (containing an encryption key). So, you could send it to the hacker's servers for what it's worth – the information is inaccessible without the master password.

As with the other contenders, you can use Enpass for passwords and other details. It includes ID's, credit card information, and more. When it comes to the safety of your passwords, it also uses a monitoring tool. It helps to evaluate your used passwords' strength and change them in cases of password re-use. For that, there's also the usual find – secure password generator that you can immediately put to good use by instantly saving the newly created password in your vault.

The service is free if you're happy with being able to use just the desktop version. If you need switching between desktop and mobile accounts, you'll have to pay up. The Mobile version is paid-only, and you can subscribe for a service or buy the license as a one-time payment. You can then reactivate your subscription via the mobile or desktop apps.

You can use this service for free on your desktop account. If you want to switch up between the desktop and mobile, you'll have to pay up.

Pros

  • Password generator
  • Customizable cloud or self-hosting
  • Data is additionally protected with SQLCipher
  • Two-factor authentication

Cons

  • Mobile apps are paid-only
  • Free version holds up to 20 passwords

9. RoboForm – affordable password manager for those who value simplicity

RoboForm interface in smart devices
Price:From $1.66/month
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS
Browser plugins:Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera

Roboform is one of the oldest password managers. They've been offering the service way before password managers became essential security products. The target audience also was primarily seen as businesses. That might be the reason why they're now offering self-hosting for free users, but the second you opt-in for a premium plan, you can use their seamless sync. It means you can access all your passwords on all your devices. All the data you upload is under the lock with military-grade AES-256 encryption. There's also an option to use 2FA authentication to ensure that no one is getting into your vault even if they somehow obtained your master password.

As with many premium password managers, this tool includes more features that could be very useful to you. It has an industry-standard password generator with modifiable variables. They even implemented one-click login as their autofill substitute. With it, you can save time while logging in to the service. Also, you can also share your credentials with other RoboForm users – just type in their email and send them. They will be able to retrieve them once they confirm their identity. There are also the password manager classics like secure cloud storage and shared folders. As with many other such tools, you can also get a detailed report of your current passwords' health.

Needless to say, RoboForm can be beneficial not only to businesses but to ordinary users as well. It can be argued that their free version is even better because you can choose not to rely on any external servers (sadly, it's not available on mobile apps). Premium option pricing starts at $1.66/month, billed every five years. Plus, you get priority customer support.

Pros

  • Self-hosted or cloud-hosted
  • One-click login
  • Easy password sharing
  • Very cheap

Cons

  • Cannot disable sync on the paid version
  • Outdated UI

10. Passbolt – best lightweight solution for enterprises

Passbolt interface in smart devices
Price:From €9/month (for businesses)
Free version:Yes
Platforms:None
Browser plugins:Chrome, Firefox

Passbolt is one of the few open-source password managers. It's primarily intended for teams and businesses. This is because secure password sharing is at the core of this service. Plus, it's possible to customize the service according to your needs due to them being open source. If you manage an enterprise, your IT administrators will surely appreciate this. However, even if you're an individual user, Passbolt can still be useful. The only thing that you would be missing is a password sharing feature. It also helps that the community edition is free.

Their servers never have access to your data in plaintext. Passwords are uploaded to the cloud only in the encrypted form. It's done via their browser extensions that use OpenPGP. You don't have to take their word for it – Passbolt is one of the most transparent companies. You can check their source code yourself on Github to verify if it's secure enough to be handling your sensitive data. Plus, if you don't want to rely on their data centers, you can always self-host it on your servers.

Passbolt requires to use of a master password in combination with a private key. Whether you'll be accessing the password yourself or sharing it with someone, this is a very secure approach. Ultimately, if you don't like some implementation of a feature – their source code is available offline. You can alter it in any way that you want to create a version unique for your enterprise.

Paradoxically, the major downside is the dependency on a private key or passphrase. If you lose either of them, your vault becomes inaccessible. Even though it's the most secure method to configure this, it lacks the user-friendliness that we've seen from the other password managers. Also, changing the passphrase isn't as streamlined as you'd think. You'll need a basic understanding of editing a code to do that.

Passbolt can be a completely free way to manage your passwords, albeit it won't be the most user-friendly password manager for less tech-savvy users.

Pros

  • Open-source
  • Can be self-hosted
  • Secure password sharing
  • Free for individual users

Cons

  • No desktop or mobile apps
  • Self-hosting set up can be tricky
  • Customer support is lacking
  • No AES-256

How we curated our best password managers list?

Most password managers offer the same set of features, such as synchronization, password generation, and two-factor authentication. However, when the time comes to separate the best from the rest, we used the following criteria:

  • Encryption. Anything less than military-grade AES 256-bit cipher is unacceptable. Bonus points for the next-gen XChaCha20.
  • Additional features. Dark web scanning, U2FA, VPN, or a secure chat are just some of the examples that give extra value to the product.
  • Multi-factor authentication. In addition to its own authenticator, a good password manager should offer several others. Biometrics (Touch ID and Face ID) should also work on all devices.
  • Import and export. There’s not much use from a password manager than can’t import your vault from another service or browser. Export is also important in case you decide to switch password managers.
  • Apps and browser extensions.The more the merrier.
  • Value for money. Is there a cheaper password manager with the same set of features?
  • Customer support. Live chat or phone support is a sign of quality service. The same goes for 24/7 availability.

Video review: Best password managers of 2020

Should you consider a free password manager?

For some users, a free password manager might be enough. However, we should first separate premium ones that offer a free version from the truly free password managers. Unfortunately, most of the latter are not worth your time. In fact, some might be even dangerous, stealing all your data inside the vault.

Most of the best password managers have a free version for you to try. Of course, they all come with fewer features and various restrictions, such as one connected device at a time. Others won’t let you backup your data and deny priority customer support. But if you really want to, we recommend choosing from our list of best free password managers in 2020.

DIY or self-hosted password managers

Best password managers use robust security to protect your vault from hackers. However, some users may see their data cloud-hosted as a potential risk. After all, if your data is online 24/7, there’s a chance that someone might find a way to get it.

Luckily, there are plenty of self-hosted password managers that let you store your data on a USB, hard disk, or another offline medium. Below are three services that we can recommend trying out.

KeePass

KeePass is a highly customizable free open-source password manager. It’s portable, meaning it doesn’t require installation and lets you store your valuable information on your desktop or USB stick. However, should you change your mind, there’s an option to store everything on third-party cloud storage. This password manager is an epitome of a DIY service. Since it’s free and open-source, most of the features have to be installed via plug-ins. This means you can set up your very own version of KeePass. Of course, this requires some prior knowledge and research, so amateur password manager users should look elsewhere.

RoboForm

While unavailable to Business plan subscribers, self-hosting is possible to other users. The only thing that you need is either a desktop or a mobile app. RoboForm is available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome OS. There are also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Safari. RoboForm is an affordable password manager, starting at $1.66/month, billed every five years. There’s also a strong free version that will allow unlimited entries, autofill, password audit, and secure sharing, among others. Upgrading will get you synchronization across devices, backup, 2FA, and priority 24/7 support.

BitWarden

BitWarden allows self-hosting your own server for all users, even those with a free plan. The application can be set up on Windows, Linux, or macOS, thanks to Docker Linux containers. Updating the BitWarden server is just as easy as installing – you only have to regularly run the update commands found on the website.

The free version of this password manager gives you 2FA, synchronization, unlimited vault items, and a password generator. For $0.83 only, you get more two-step login options, 1 GB of storage, priority customer support, and other features. If you want to learn more about a quality self-hosted password manager, read our BitWarden review.

What do password managers do?

The primary purpose of every good password manager is to generate, store, and help you manage passwords. Most of them can also store other sensitive information, such as credit card details or secure notes. Password managers also ease your life by allowing autofill on trusted devices. You won’t need to remember every password that you have and use password recovery when you don’t. Some will even check the dark web routinely to see if any of your passwords have become publicly available.

But there’s more to that, even if you have only a few passwords to remember. A password manager makes it much harder for hackers to steal your data. What’s more, it helps against phishing and pharming attacks, which are two of the most popular ways to get someone’s password.

Furthermore, password managers help against keylogging and screen logging by using the above-mentioned autofill function. They also help against credential stuffing. Most people don’t realize that it’s easy to test their password on thousands of different websites automatically to see if it was used more than once. With a password manager, this is no longer your concern. Finally, password managers can help you share passwords and other data with your friends without copy-pasting everything to your email or chat window.

How do password managers work?

Password managers store your passwords in an encrypted database, which can be either local (on your device) or remote (online). In some cases, it can also be credit card info or important documents that you don’t want to keep in the cloud. All the information that’s inside is usually unlocked with a master password. That’s the only one you have to remember. Whenever you need to log in to your email or another account, you simply copy-paste the username and password.

Most password managers also have an auto-fill function which does the job for you. In either case, the point is that you no longer have to remember any of these passwords.

Password managers also generate strong passwords for you. They can even remind you to change them regularly, which is a recommended practice. You will also be notified about duplicates, which are often found when you enter all the passwords to the database for the first time.

What’s more, password managers work on multiple devices and also come with browser extensions. This means that you won’t be locked out either on your desktop or your smartphone.

Have a look at our comprehensive guide about how do password managers work and the technology behind that powers them to learn more.

Why using a built-in browser password manager is a bad idea

Browser password managers are getting better every day, not only saving but also generating passwords for you. 2FA, autofill, and synchronization have also become common features. What’s more, Apple users now get alerts from Safari if any password is used more than once.

Despite all that, we recommend using a dedicated password manager. For starters, they synchronize your data on multiple browsers and devices, which makes it much easier to access it on the go. Secondly, most password managers also save credit card information and notes, making it much easier to share them securely.

Finally, best password managers can check the dark web if any of your log-in credentials have been compromised. In such a case, changing all of your passwords with new strong ones will be much easier compared to the browser password managers.

Features of a good password manager

A good password manager should have all or at least most of the following features:

  • Keeps your passwords safe. This is not possible without military-grade encryption.
  • Uses zero-knowledge architecture. Only you should be able to access your passwords. The zero-knowledge architecture ensures that even the service provider cannot access your data.
  • Generates strong passwords. They should be at least 12 characters long, with uppercase letters, numbers, and special symbols.
  • Improves weak passwords. When you import your password list, at least some will probably not qualify as strong. It’s the task of a good password manager to strengthen them, like steroids strengthen an athlete.
  • Scans the dark web regularly. You never know when your username, password, or, God forbid, both, end up on the dark web for sale. Therefore, choose a password manager that can alert you if that happens.
  • Lets you save other data. While usernames and passwords will populate the most of your vault, credit card details and secure notes are also important, especially if you need them on a daily basis.

FAQ

Can password managers be hacked?

No security software is without flaws. It doesn't mean that you should give up on cybersecurity and password managers altogether. They don't have to be perfect to protect you. They have to be secure enough to make it much harder for attackers to get your data. A secure password manager is a hard nut to crack.

Why are password managers free?

Password managers constitute a small niche of cybersecurity products. This means they are an even narrower segment of an already little segment. Most customers aren't even aware of the possible risks. The password manager developers then are first and foremost educating about the needs for such products. The free version makes it an easier sell, and it's a better chance that a user will buy a full product if he gets used to the convenience.

How do password managers guarantee your password security?

Password managers protect your data not only from hackers but also from themselves. Thanks to zero-knowledge architecture, your information is encrypted using a military-grade cipher before it gets to the provider’s server. That’s why it’s virtually impossible to decipher your data.

Do password manager apps track or sell my personal information?

A password manager can’t track let alone sell your data if it implements zero-knowledge architecture. And that’s what the best password managers do. They encrypt your personal information before it reaches their servers, so there’s no way to access it without a master password.

What are the disadvantages of a password manager?

The most significant disadvantage of a password manager is that should it become compromised, it would be a single point of failure. Upon breach, such a database would have all your accounts in one place, plus payment and highly sensitive personal information. This disadvantage is mitigated using a multiple factor authentication, which would make it much harder to penetrate.

Comments 14
  1. Jack says:

    What are your recommendations for best password managers for business? Because buying a seperate account for each employee seems a bit too much and we don’t have a dedicated IT team to set something up in-house. We need something simple, easy to use and that it wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’ll try out 1password as it seems a good option, but we’re always open to other options as well.

    • Mindaugas Jancis says:

      Hi, Jack. We’ll probably be doing an article on the best B2B password managers. As for now, I can say that your choice is pretty good – 1Password has a Business plan, but they do charge per user. On the other hand, most password managers do that, so you can also try Dashlane which is cheaper. Good luck!

  2. Eliza Rose says:

    oh, so many password managers that I havent even heard of before. how am I supposed to choose the best mac password managers out of this huge list? I suppose trying them out with free trials would work, but it doesn’t look like each one has that. I get that they have free options, but imho its not the same as a free trial of the premium version.

    • Mindaugas Jancis says:

      Hello, Eliza. You’re right, free versions are usually toned-down, but some password managers, like LastPass, tend to make them quite powerful. And since they support Mac, I suggest trying LastPass first!

  3. Keeperix says:

    Do the password managers have the same features across all devices and platforms? Because at the moment I’m looking into the top password managers for iphone and it’s not always aparent if these apps have the same features everywhere. I’ve had this happen with other apps (not password managers though) and I’m hesitant to rush into anything because iphones are my main devices.

    • Mindaugas Jancis says:

      Hey, Keeperix. Unfortunately, the features vary across devices. For iPhone users, I’d recommend LastPass because you’ll get most of the desktop features. Plus, you can safely try the excellent free version first before going premium.

  4. Len Hawkins says:

    i’ve seen stories of browser extensions harvesting data and generally not always being trustworthy. So are browser password managers safe to use? How can I verify that it’s trustworthy? I’m not some programmer that can take a look at the code and see if it’s reliable or not, I need someone else to verify it. But in this day and age who knows what’s trustworthy.

    • Mindaugas Jancis says:

      Dear Len,
      Thanks for stopping by. Finding a password manager that you can trust is important. I can only say that all 10 password managers I recommend are reputable, at least to my knowledge. Good luck with finding the right one!

  5. Leonardo B. says:

    I think that non cloud password managers are the best, even if they are lacking in some convenient features. Their security and integrity depends solely on the user himself. He has to take full responsibility of the storage space and it’s safety. Which is a good thing because large companies get targeted more often than regular users. Of course they’re not always easy to use, but for power users it’s the best option.

  6. AtomicBlondeStorm says:

    I have been doing some research into password managers lately because I’m trying to pick one out for myself. However, one thing seems to elude me. I have found very little discussion about the potential negative effects of password managers. I suppose there aren’t any, but that seems too good to be true. Perhaps you could shed some more light on this topic?

  7. Ronny Rickard says:

    Hey so I’ve been wondering and wanted to get some expert opinion on this topic. Can online password managers get hacked? It’s not like the data centers with out passwords are 100 percent secure, right? Better to live with a little bit of scepticism than to trust these companies blindly. But if they can be hacked then should we even be using them? Better to write everything down.

  8. Airanax says:

    I need a list of password managers for home use – something that I could share with my family so that we could keep our shared accounts secured in one place.

  9. Latuneta says:

    I’m wondering if it’s possible and how to use password managers on usb drives. Would make sense, right? Except for the fact that you might lose your passwords, but that may be worth the risk. And you can just encrypt the drive to keep it safe even when it gets missplaced. So maybe you guys know of a service like that?

  10. Kenneth Harvey says:

    I’ve been using a variety of password managers lately and they all have their ups and downs. However they usually have one thing in common and I’d like to find out the technicalities behind it. So how do password managers fill in the fields of websites and other forms? How do they make the distinction between regular text fields and login forms? I’d appreciate a detailed response

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