What are the Best Password Managers?

  
By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 03/09/23 •  14 min read
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After conducting thorough research and analysis of user ratings and expert reviews, I have compiled a list of the top three password managers: LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password, Bitwarden, and KeyChain. If you are using Windows (and now Linux), as your operating system, LastPass, DashLane, 1Password and Bitwarden are the top contenders. However, if you are using macOS or IOS, KeyChain is the clear choice.

A password manager is a tool that helps you create, store, and manage your passwords for all your online accounts. With a password manager, you only need to remember one master password, and it takes care of the rest. Password managers work by securely storing your login information and autofilling it for you when you visit a website or use an app.

Using a password manager offers several benefits. First and foremost, it makes it much easier to use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Strong passwords are essential for protecting your personal and financial information from hackers and cybercriminals. Password managers also save you time by autofilling your login credentials for you, so you don’t have to type them in manually each time. Additionally, password managers can help you identify weak and reused passwords, alerting you to potential security risks.

At the end of this article, I close out the article with My Recommendation, telling what I use, and why I used what I use.

How do Password Managers Work?

There are different types of password managers available, including browser-based password managers, desktop password managers, and mobile password managers. Browser-based password managers, such as the built-in password manager in Google Chrome, store your login credentials directly in your browser. Desktop password managers, such as Dashlane, LastPass, 1Password, and Bitwarden offer standalone applications that you can download and install on your computer. Additionally, these apps are available for you to download and install on your smartphone or tablet, (IOS and Android).

Password managers store your login credentials in an encrypted database that is protected by a master password. The encryption ensures that even if a hacker gains access to the database, they won’t be able to read the passwords without the master password. Some password managers use advanced encryption algorithms, such as AES-256, to ensure maximum security. Additionally, many password managers also offer two-factor authentication (2FA) as an extra layer of security, requiring you to enter a code generated by an app or sent via text message in addition to your master password.

Password managers can generate strong, unique passwords for you, so you don’t have to come up with them yourself. These passwords are typically long, complex, and include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Password managers also autofill your login credentials for you, so you don’t have to remember or type them in manually. When you visit a website or use an app, your password manager will recognize the login page and offer to autofill your username and password for you. Some password managers can even autofill credit card information and other personal details to make online shopping easier, but only if you have already granted it permission, and entered that information into the password manager ahead of time.

What are the Best Password Managers?

When it comes to managing your online passwords, using a password manager is a smart and convenient solution. After conducting thorough research and analysis of user ratings and expert reviews, I have compiled a list of the top five password managers: LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password, Bitwarden, and KeyChain. Let’s take a closer look at each of these password managers, and briefly show the pros and cons of each in the table below:

PROS and CONS

Pros Cons

LastPass

Password auditing tool, secure notes feature Autofilling issues on some websites

Dashlane

Built-in VPN, password changer tool Mobile app can be slow or buggy

1Password

Watchtower tool, travel mode feature Relatively expensive, desktop app can be slow or buggy

Bitwarden

Free and open-source, no limits on number of devices

KeyChain

Free for Apple users, seamlessly integrated with Apple devices Only available on Apple devices

Each of the password managers listed above offers unique features that set them apart from the others. LastPass offers a password auditing tool and secure notes feature, making it a good option for those who prioritize security. However, Dashlane has a built-in VPN and password changer tool, which make it a good option for those who frequently use public Wi-Fi or want to automate password changes. But then, 1Password has a Watchtower tool and travel mode feature, which make it a good option for those who want to stay up to date on security breaches and protect their sensitive information when traveling.

Now, let’s take a look at each one of these in more detail.

LastPass

LastPass is a popular and highly-rated password manager that offers a wide range of features to help you securely store and manage your passwords. With LastPass, you only need to remember one master password, and it takes care of the rest. LastPass can be used across all your devices, including your desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet.

To get started with LastPass, you simply need to create an account and download the LastPass browser extension or mobile app. LastPass will then prompt you to save your login credentials as you browse the web or use apps, and you can choose to autofill your login credentials with just a few clicks. LastPass also offers a password generator tool that can create strong, unique passwords for you, and a password auditing tool that checks your passwords for security vulnerabilities and recommends stronger alternatives.

One of the standout features of LastPass is its secure notes feature, which allows you to store sensitive information such as credit card details and social security numbers. Additionally, LastPass offers two-factor authentication (2FA) as an extra layer of security, requiring you to enter a code generated by an app or sent via text message in addition to your master password. However, some users have reported issues with autofilling passwords on certain websites, which can be a potential drawback for some. Overall, LastPass is a solid option for those looking for a comprehensive password manager with a wide range of features.

Dashlane

Dashlane is a highly-rated password manager that offers a variety of features to help you securely store and manage your passwords. With Dashlane, you can autofill your login credentials with just a few clicks, and it can be used across all your devices, including your desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet.

Dashlane offers a password generator tool that can create strong, unique passwords for you, and a password changer tool that can automatically change your passwords on select websites with just a few clicks. Dashlane also offers a built-in VPN for added security when using public Wi-Fi, and a digital wallet for storing payment information.

One of the standout features of Dashlane is its password changer tool, which can save you time by automatically changing your passwords on select websites. Additionally, Dashlane’s digital wallet allows you to securely store payment information and make online purchases without having to re-enter your payment information each time. Dashlane also offers two-factor authentication (2FA) as an extra layer of security.

However, some users have reported issues with the mobile app being slow or buggy, which can be a potential drawback for some. Additionally, while Dashlane offers a free version, some of its more advanced features, such as the VPN and password changer tool, require a paid subscription. Overall, Dashlane is a solid option for those looking for a password manager with a variety of features, especially those who want the convenience of the password changer tool and digital wallet.

1Password

1Password is a password manager that offers a range of features to help you securely store and manage your passwords. With 1Password, you can autofill your login credentials with just a few clicks, and it can be used across all your devices, including your desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet.

1Password offers a password generator tool that can create strong, unique passwords for you, and a digital wallet for storing payment information. One of the standout features of 1Password is its Watchtower tool, which alerts you to security breaches and compromised passwords, allowing you to take action quickly to protect your accounts.

1Password also offers a travel mode feature that allows you to temporarily remove sensitive information from your account when crossing borders, which can be a valuable feature for frequent travelers. Additionally, 1Password offers two-factor authentication (2FA) as an extra layer of security.

However, 1Password is relatively expensive compared to other password managers, and some users have reported issues with the desktop app being slow or buggy, which can be a potential drawback for some. Overall, 1Password is a solid option for those looking for a password manager with advanced security features, especially those who want to stay up to date on security breaches and protect their sensitive information when traveling.

Bitwarden

When considering whether to use Bitwarden as your password manager, it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks. One of the biggest advantages of Bitwarden is that it is completely free and open-source, meaning that anyone can view and audit the code for potential security flaws. Bitwarden also offers 256-bit encryption, a whole range of features, including support for two-factor authentication and secure password generation, and an incredibly simplistic easy-to-use interface. All of which, makes it a strong contender among other password managers.

However, there are also potential drawbacks to using Bitwarden. Some users have reported slower syncing times between devices, which can be frustrating if you need to access your login credentials quickly. Finally, some advanced features, such as password sharing and secure file storage, are only available with a paid subscription, but that’s only $10 per year, so that’s no biggie.

If you are looking for a free and open-source option with strong security features, Bitwarden may be the right choice for you.

KeyChain

KeyChain is a password manager that is built into Apple’s macOS and iOS operating systems, making it a popular choice for Apple users. One of the key benefits of KeyChain is its seamless integration with Apple devices. Because it is built into the operating system, KeyChain can be accessed easily and quickly on any Apple device, including iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers. This makes it a convenient option for users who want to keep their login credentials synced across multiple devices.

With KeyChain, you can store your login credentials for various websites and apps, and then have them automatically filled in when you visit those sites or open those apps. This can save you time and effort, as you don’t need to remember your passwords or type them in each time you visit a site or app.

KeyChain also offers other useful features, such as the ability to store credit card information and Wi-Fi network passwords. This can be particularly useful for Apple users who want to keep all of their sensitive information in one place.

In terms of security, KeyChain uses industry-standard encryption to protect your login credentials and other sensitive information. Additionally, because it is built into the operating system, KeyChain can integrate with Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID features, adding an extra layer of security to your login credentials.

How to Choose the Right Password Manager for You

Choosing the right password manager can be a personal decision that depends on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some tips to consider when selecting a password manager:

  1. Determine What Features are Most Important to You
    Password managers offer a wide range of features, including password generation, autofill functionality, digital wallets, and more. Consider what features are most important to you and your online habits.
  2. Consider Your Budget
    While some password managers offer free versions, others require a subscription for access to their more advanced features. Determine what you are willing to pay for a password manager and what features you need before making a purchase.
  3. Look for Cross-Device Compatibility
    Make sure the password manager you choose can be used across all your devices, including your desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet.
  4. Research the Security Measures Offered
    It is important to select a password manager that offers strong security features, such as end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication (2FA), to protect your sensitive information.
  5. Check for User-Friendliness
    Password managers should be easy to use and navigate. Look for password managers with intuitive interfaces and helpful customer support.

Overall, selecting a password manager with strong security features is crucial to keeping your online accounts safe from cyber threats. Be sure to research and compare multiple options before making a final decision, and prioritize the features that are most important to you.

My Recommendation

I absolutely hate it when people review software pointing out the advantages and disadvantages, and then say something like, “Which password manager is best for you? It all depends on your specific needs and preferences.” That’s just stupid. I’m not that guy. I’m going to tell you which password manager I like and why. I’m also going to offer a “runner up”. So let’s get to it.

Personally, I use Linux and Apple devices. I have an iPad Pro, an iPhone and an Apple Watch. I use all three every day. However, I use Linux on the desktop exclusively. Even though I don’t have a Mac, I use KeyChain as my password manager, and here’s why:

KeyChain passwords are stored in the cloud, and backed up in real time, using 256-bit encryption, and has the backing of Apple behind it. In other words, I don’t have to worry that Apple is going to go out of business. Will the other password managers be around next year? Have they been hacked or compromised? Yes, LastPass and 1Password, and here’s the proof. Has Apple ever been hacked? No, at least not to date.

The simplicity of using KeyChain on an Apple device can’t be underestimated. When visiting a site that requires login credentials, it knows if you already have them or not, and if not, it will offer a suggestion for a new password right away, and then remembers that for next time. Super fast, unobtrusive, and out of the way.

Now, I also have a paid subscription to Microsoft 365, where my family can access Microsoft Office products from any device. So, my default web-browser on the Linux desktop is Microsoft Edge. Any time, I need a password, I pull it from my iPhone and manually enter it into Microsoft Edge, (and it remembers it, and backs it up to my Cloud account on Microsoft’s servers).

Yes, that means that I have the same password in two different places, but that’s what I like and what works for me. Ultimately, yes, the choice is yours, and you should use what works best for you, even if it means using a combination of password managers.

Now, if I had to choose from one of the other password managers, I would choose (and used to use), Bitwarden, hands-dwon. I just found the user-interface to be so easy and simplistic, not to mention that it has a native application for Windows, Mac and Linux, Android, and IOS. Of course, it offers 256-bit encryption, has a great reputation, and is completely free. If you want to support the open-source project, you can for $10 a month, to get password sharing and secure file storage. Other than those two features, you get everything else for free.

The bottom line is this, “What company(s) are you going to trust with your most private information?” Once you answer that question, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which password manager to choose.

Tim Chesonis

Tim loves writing and helping people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective, loves Linux, his iPhone and his iPad. When he's not writing another article, he's probably binge-watching “The Middle” or “Breaking Bad”, (again). To learn more about Tim, click here.