Coming up with a unique password for every site is daunting. This is where you could use a free password manager. It helps to create stronger passwords and quickly retrieve your credentials from your encrypted vaults.
Usually, when you want to get the best quality product, it means that you have to open up your wallet. Not at all true with password managers. Even the market-leaders have a free version. But which is the best free password manager in 2021? Let’s see!
Today’s best free password managers:
- LastPass – Most feature-rich free option
- NordPass – Most secure and streamlined experience
- KeePass – Most underrated password manager
- Dashlane – Most versatile password manager in 2021
- RoboForm – Novice-friendly and secure tool
Best free password managers – our curated list
The list below combines the best free password managers and the best premium ones with a free version. The latter will likely have some limitations that will make you think about upgrading, such as a limited number of entries or no sharing option. Nevertheless, I recommend checking these five first before spending your money.
LastPass is a great password manager, no matter which version you pick. However, its free version is perfect. That’s because LastPass will let you try most of its features without spending a dime. Considering that its premium users get a virtually identical product, that’s a great pick.
For safety, it uses the industry-standard military-grade encryption, the same that you’d find on any top-tier password manager. Your data is first encrypted and only then uploaded to their servers, so your credentials are inaccessible not only to hackers but also to LastPass themselves.
There are a lot more ways to make sure that only you can enter your password vault. This password manager supports a lot of two-factor authentication methods. You can authorize your login via the authenticator app on your smartphone to PIN codes. It truly adds a degree of confidence that your very private data is safe.
Security isn’t the only strength of LastPass. There are many additional features that are bound to be useful. There’s a password generator that has length and character modifiers. If you’re tired of adding and subtracting symbols so that a service that you’re would deem a password worthy, this is a godsend to you. Plus, you can instantly add a generated password to your vault, which can be synced with your other devices. LastPass has apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, plus a long list of browsers that include even Safari, Opera, and even Edge.
Suppose you’re already using a password manager, no worries. You can export your current vault into the LastPass. It supports transfer from most major password manager providers, so it’s easy to test it out. If you don’t like it, you can delete your data and close the account. If you like it, you can use it for free as long as you want. If you’re very budget-cautious, the only things you miss out on as a free user are password sharing, a security dashboard, dark web monitoring, advanced multi-factor authentication options, customer support, and encrypted file storage. That’s it. Even on the free version, the vault password storage is unlimited. It means that you can store all of your passwords in a single place and not worry about space constraints.
- Premium features in a free edition
- Extensive 2FA options
- Multi-device support
- Easy vault transfers
- Unlimited password vault storage
- Reputation stains
- No customer support
NordPass is a side product of NordVPN developers. Although the latter is a paid-only service, their password manager has a free version. There is no trial period for everyone who wants, can use it as long as they wish. Considering what you get, it does make sense to switch to it.
In terms of security, NordPass goes a bit further to offer XChaCha20 encryption with Argon 2 for key derivation. Although AES-256 encryption would have worked just as well, their pick is a proper next-gen solution that’s more resistant to misconfigurations and up to three times faster. From a technical standpoint, there’s nothing to scoff at in their setup. Let’s not forget that this also applies to the free users.
Free versions of premium password managers are notorious for having minimal features. Many companies do that to drive sales. NordPass free version, in fact, isn’t one of the feature-rich versions. However, for most users, that should be just enough. It allows storing an unlimited amount of passwords, notes, and credit cards. Plus, you can access your secure vault on any device. Since they support Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS with several browsers, you should be able to use NordPass on all of them, whether you’re on the go or at home.
The main problem with this tool is that it’s relatively recent. So, it lacks some of the features that you might have got used to it. For example, it still has a password generator, which makes password creation incredibly easy. However, some alternative to the in-house authenticator app would be excellent.
There is some integration with other password managers. If you’re interested in checking if NordPass would work for you, you can export your vault from your current password manager. When uploaded to NordPass, you’ll have all your credentials at your fingertips. It works with the most popular password managers and your browsers. So, the data that is saved in your browser can be safely locked away.
NordPass is still in its product development infancy. However, it’s still a well-rounded free password manager if you’re OK with the fact that it lacks bells and whistles. It’s also rare when a free password manager has a live chat customer support and uses encryption that’s stronger than AES.
- Next-gen encryption
- Unlimited password vault storage
- Easy vault transfers
- Live chat customer support
- Most features are behind a paywall
- Lacks add-ons for more browsers
KeePass isn’t a free version of the premium product. It’s free in its own right. Built as a true open-source product, it uses various plugins to add additional features. This means that you must be willing to put in some time to learn how it works to use it. If you survive a steep learning curve, which this password requires, you can build your personal password manager.
There are many ways to look at such a decision, and it depends on your personal preference. Some people will love its DIY spirit, other will be horrified by their UI. Its looks do come off as a tool that was designed in the late ’90s. Since it doesn’t rely on proprietary servers, KeePass asks you to configure it on a third-party storage solution like Dropbox or Google Drive. However, you can keep your entire vault offline. It’s your call.
You can even customize the security measures of this password manager. There’s an option to pick the usual AES-256, but there’s also support for ChaCha20. However, you can even add additional encryption algorithms such as GOST or Twofish via plugins. 2FA isn’t available by default, but if you need it, you can add a plugin. So, potentially it can be one of the safest password vaults in the world, but it will take your time to set up.
The major downside is that KeePass looks and functions more like a framework than a cybersecurity product. When you launch the problem, the app practically includes nothing. You have to set up a database protected with a master password to get the ball rolling. If you need a password generator, import, and export tools, they are included in a basic configuration. Everything else you’ll have to configure and add yourself. Most users will skip this tool merely because of this reason.
Platform support is another spotty aspect. KeePass has official releases for desktop apps only. This includes Windows, macOS, and Linux. It does have mobile apps for Android and iOS, but they are unofficial community-made ports. The same goes for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer extensions that are available because third party developers made them, so the quality might be a mixed bag.
If you enjoy tinkering with various plugins and settings, KeePass can truly shine like no other password managers. However, if you want everything ready out of the box, this may be a password manager to avoid.
- Open-source code
- Very customizable
- Supports most advanced encryption algorithms
- Plug-in based
- Requires a lot of configuration
- Doesn’t have proprietary cloud-servers
- Official developers didn’t make some apps
Premium version is one of the pricier password managers you could choose. If you’d rather prefer cheaper options, you might turn your head away so fast you might not even notice that they also have a free version. Despite its limitations, it should be a fine password manager for most users.
They use tough military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, which is considered a gold standard in the cybersecurity world. This should put some ease of mind that all your stored credentials are safe. To make your vault even safer, you can add 2FA authentication. This isn’t limited to premium users. Free users can also use this feature. However, the only way to activate it will be from your desktop app, so keep that in mind.
Where you will get a free user treatment is in terms of features. Dashlane is pretty strict when it comes to using the password manager. You can only associate it with one device, and if you want to join with another, you have to unlink the previous one. It may cause frustration if you’re planning to use it on multiple devices. You should consider Dashlane as a free version only if you will be using it on a single device.
The maximum amount of passwords is 50. Meaning, you probably won’t store all of your passwords since most people have beyond 50 accounts. However, the service redeems itself with security alerts. Some services include a premium feature, which alerts you if it notices that your account got caught up in some data breach. Other than the password manager includes password sharing with 5 people and a password generator.
As a direct competitor to LastPass and the like, Dashline can boast about wide support. It includes desktop apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux. However, mobile users on Android or iOS shouldn’t feel left out. They can also find their version in their respective stores. Also, you can download browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Internet Explorer. It means that whatever setup you’re currently using will be compatible. I wouldn’t expect anything less of them. If you can deal with the fact that the iOS version feels like an early access version and pretty severe limitations to the features, Dashlane is a good choice. It has no black spots reputation-wise, and are continually improving their products. If you’re on a budget and use a single device, Dashlane can be a perfect fit.
- Password sharing with 5 users
- Superb reputation
- 2FA support
- The Maximum amount of stored passwords is 50
- iOS version is lacking
- Limits user to one device
RoboForm is one of the oldest password managers. They’ve been in the business way before the tools became essential cybersecurity products. Thus, the product went through several revamps that lead to the version that we have today. It’s premium software that has a free version on the side.
A military-grade AES-256 cipher protects your vault of passwords. It’s only uploaded to their servers encrypted, and only your master password can unlock it. No one at RoboForm knows what your passwords are, including your master password. To make your vault even safer, you can add 2FA authentication, which prevents unauthorized access even when someone obtains your master password.
You can choose between cloud-hosted or local-hosted options. The free version isn’t restricting to one or the other, however, paid users will be forced to cloud hosting. In this sense, the free version is superior even to the paid ones.
When it comes to features, RoboForm has more than essentials, even on its free version. It can store an unlimited number of logins and give you a detailed password audit. It lists all the current passwords that you have and gives insights into whether it’s strong enough. If they aren’t, you can use their password generator to switch to stronger passwords. If you want to share a password with someone, you can share it via email, and they will be able to view it from their RoboForm app. There’s also emergency access, so you could access your friend’s and family’s password vaults should they lock themselves out. That’s a list of benefits that’s longer than average.
RoboForm is available to Windows, macOS, iOS, and Linux devices. So, whichever device you’re using, you’ll be able to set up the solution. You can also use with browser as an add-on on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Edge, and even Internet Explorer. If you’re cloud-hosting, all your passwords will be available across all of your devices.
Overall, RoboForm is an excellent password manager, even as a free version. Though, it’s a bit puzzling why local hosting isn’t available on mobile. Also, on the premium version, some users report that RoboForm still syncs their passwords with their servers despite choosing a local option. The free version doesn’t have that problem, so in this sense, it’s even more flexible than their premium one.
- Local or cloud-hosted
- Unlimited password vault storage
- Convenient updating of weaker passwords
- Password sharing via email
- Local hosting isn’t available on mobile
- No dark web monitoring
How I curated this list of free password managers?
A password manager should increase your security, not the other way around. That’s why I analyzed how each provider makes sure that your password vault is safe. Whether it’s encryption, hashing, or other means – the more, the merrier. Other features like multi-factor authentication are also important – it adds a layer of protection if your master password becomes exposed. Finally, anything adding convenience for the user is obviously great to have.
Video review: Best FREE password managers of 2021
Should I use a free password manager?
A free password manager can be the right solution. Most premium password managers have free versions, and you can use them to store your most important credentials safely. The main limitation is that they usually lock some of their features behind a paywall to incentivize customers to opt-in for a subscription.
There are also such password managers that do not have premium versions, they are just free, and that’s it. In those cases, the apps may be plagued with ads, or you might be uploading a lot of data into their servers and not even know about it. When a premium password manager offers a free version, you know where the money comes from. Plus, you get a much better impression of whether you like the service. That’s why it’s best to check the free version and later decide if you want to commit.
If you want to increase your online security, the password manager is the easiest first step you should take. Plus, even the premium providers have a free option, so there’s no excuse that you cannot afford it. Importing passwords from your browser takes seconds, and most password managers do it automatically. Besides, it’s a lot safer than keeping your password saved in a browser, where it’s stored with zero encryption.
Don’t take your cybersecurity as a non-issue. Credential stuffing – the practice of trying the same login credential combination on various websites – isn’t something only hi-tech Russian hackers do. With a breached database leak, even a teenager could do it. With a free password manager, you can have unique passwords for all your accounts, preventing security issues with the click of a button.
Yes – they are just as safe as their premium counterparts, and they offer the same features that you would find in their paid services. Usually, they protect their password vaults with some form of encryption. Even the provider can’t know your passwords as there is no way to decipher the data without your master password.
All iPhones come with iCloud Keychain. It seamlessly shares your login credentials across all your Apple devices. However, if you’re not a hardcore Apple fan and not every device you own is iDevice, a third-party password manager can help with password sharing. It extends to Windows and Android devices. Thus, Dashlane is one of the best password managers for iOS devices. It can send you 2FA codes even via Apple Watch.
LastPass is one of the best options, which has a great free version for Android users. Since Android 8.0 Oreo, it’s possible to fill in a password on a browser and apps. The new framework functions similarly to iCloud Keychain, but it’s less efficient at sharing passwords between devices. Third-party providers can use the built-in Autofill framework and add sharing between devices.
Most premium password managers have free versions, however, some are even offering premium version trials. Usually, it will be a premium trial that lasts a fixed amount of time or a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, you can subscribe to them for a month and cancel before you’re charged. You’ll get a full refund.