TL;DR – These are the Best Password Managers:
Best Free Password Manager
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of LastPass before: it’s the most popular service for generating, storing, syncing, and auto-filling passwords across the web. LastPass is available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera, and even Internet Explorer, and has apps for iOS and Android. After creating your “vault,” which is secured behind one master password, you can generate secure passwords for all your favorite sites using a number of parameters that you decide, like the number of characters, whether to use symbols, and even whether you want to avoid ambiguous characters (like uppercase I and lowercase l).
Like most password managers, your vault is encrypted locally on your machine before it’s synced with LastPass’ servers, so even the LastPass service can’t see your precious login details. It also offers two-factor authentication, which is crucial to keeping your data secure. And it does all of this for free. (It’s interface is a tad clunky, but it’s still more than usable for the price.)
LastPass does have a premium plan, however, for $24 per year. This plan adds a few handy features, including 1GB of encrypted file storage, support for premium two-factor authentication options like the YubiKey, the ability to log in to desktop applications, and more. Most users will probably be able to get by with the free service, but even with the premium plan, LastPass is one of the most affordable options around.
Best Paid Password Manager
1Password has been around for years, but for a long time, it was primarily aimed at Mac and iOS users. These days, its Windows and Android apps have matured enough to be just about equal to the Apple platforms in terms of features, and it also has extensions available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera that can enter your password with a quick keystroke. (It doesn’t fill your passwords automatically like LastPass does, though 1Password claims this is for security reasons, so the extra step is worth the trouble.)
1Password also contains a few extra niceties you don’t get with other apps. If you don’t trust your passwords to the cloud, for example, 1Password offers the option to only sync your passwords between devices over Wi-Fi. It also has a built-in code generator for two-factor authentication across your accounts, so you don’t have to use a separate app like Google Authenticator, though you do still have to use a separate app for your 1Password code for security reasons, which defeats the purpose a little bit. It also comes with 1GB of document storage, a “Travel Mode” that temporarily removes your vault from your device while you’re traveling, and more. Most importantly, though, 1Password’s interface is much better than LastPass’, and a bit more efficient to traverse if you’re trying to browse through your vault.
You’ll pay a bit of money for those advantages, but it’s not too bad: an individual subscription costs $36 per year, or $60 per year for a family plan. If you’re willing to spend a few bucks for the best, 1Password is worth every penny.
The “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Password Manager
Dashlane, like the others, is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and has extensions for most major browsers. It may not have quite the name recognition as LastPass and 1Password, but it’s a popular, well-designed password manager with a ton of extra features, at least, for the premium version. Dashlane’s free option only supports up to 50 entries, and only works on one device, so for the app to be useful, you really need to pony up. And pony up you will: Dashlane’s Premium service is $60 per year, and its Premium Plus plan is $120 per year.
Apart from unlimited entries and devices, the Premium option adds a VPN for encrypting your web traffic and “dark web monitoring,” which monitors the dark web to see if any of your account credentials are being used by ne’er-do-wells. Premium Plus goes even further with credit monitoring and identity theft service. Apart from these premium features, Dashlane also sports a slick interface, and an automatic Password Changer that’s more powerful than its competitors, which is useful if you have an account that’s been compromised.
As such, it seems like Dashlane is aiming to be more of an all-in-one security suite than just a password manager, and that somewhat justifies its higher price, though you could also get a VPN, credit monitoring, and other similar services separately and have a bit more choice over what you buy. It all depends on whether you value choice or all-in-one simplicity.
Best Open Source Password Manager
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t trust companies with your data and wants full control over everything, KeePass may be the option for you. It’s free, open source, extensible (so anyone can add features to the program), and if you want, it can work entirely offline with no cloud component. You can, however, sync your KeePass database with Dropbox or another cloud syncing service if you so choose.
KeePass is technically just a Windows program, but since it’s open source, there are plenty of third-party companion apps for other platforms, including macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, browsers, and even old, forgotten platforms like BlackBerry and PocketPC. But as a result, KeePass requires a rather tech-savvy mind to use, and you’ll spend a bit more time managing everything than you would with a more user-friendly program like one of the above. Still, for the fiercely independent open source enthusiasts out there, KeePass has stood the test of time, and while open-source up-and-comers like Bitwarden are offering some competition, KeePass is still considered the king.