Password managers have become a hot topic in recent news due to the LastPass breach. It’s crucial to ensure that our logins, banking information, and other sensitive data are securely stored and easily accessible only to us. Despite the fallibility of technology, the advantages of using unique and strong passwords across our online presence outweigh the risks. Password managers remain an excellent solution for securely managing all your credentials. To help you choose the right one for your needs, we tested nine of the best password managers available in 2023.
- Best Password Manager: 1Password ($3 at 1Password)
- Best Free Password Manager: Bitwarden ($0 at Bitwarden)
- Best Cross-Platform Availability: NordPass ($2 at NordPass)
- Best for Shared Access: Dashlane ($3 at Dashlane)
How Do Password Managers Work?
Password managers can be likened to virtual safe deposit boxes. They store your valuable information, such as online credentials, in a secure vault accessible only to you via a master password or security key. Most password managers also offer autofill features, making it convenient to log in to websites without the need to remember each password. Additionally, they provide a centralized location to store credit card information securely.
The primary value of password managers lies in maintaining online safety. According to Florian Schaub, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, it is nearly impossible to have unique, long, and hard-to-guess passwords without a password manager. Using the same password across multiple sites, with minor variations, is highly discouraged. Given the number of sites where we have credentials, it becomes impractical to remember all passwords without a secure storage solution. Password managers offer easy access and the ability to fill in complex passwords automatically.
Are Password Managers Safe?
Storing sensitive information in one place may seem counterintuitive, as a single hack could compromise everything. However, most experts agree that password managers are generally secure and outweigh the potential risks with their benefits of strong passwords. Each provider implements various security measures, but the basic principle involves a master password protecting the rest of your data. Some providers also employ security keys for additional device authentication. The use of a “zero-knowledge” policy, regular security audits, bug bounty programs, and encryption further enhance the security of password managers.
Who Are Password Managers For?
Password managers are beneficial for nearly everyone. They are not limited to tech-savvy individuals or businesses anymore, as sensitive information is increasingly stored online behind passwords. Additionally, password managers facilitate safe password sharing among family members, friends, or roommates. Whether it’s streaming accounts, shared bills, or file storage, password managers provide a secure way to manage shared access.
Are Password Managers Worth It?
Chances are, you already use a password manager without realizing it. Built-in options on phones and web browsers offer password-saving capabilities, but they are often device-specific. To enjoy secure password management across multiple devices, platforms, and for shared access, opting for a third-party password manager is usually worth it.
Our Testing Approach:
We thoroughly tested the password managers by downloading their apps on iPhone, Android, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. This helped us assess platform compatibility and support. We evaluated features such as autofill and password generation, as well as additional functionalities like data-breach monitoring. Moreover, we researched publicly available information on security specifications for each provider. Based on our analysis, we have excluded LastPass from our recommendations due to the recent breach.
Password Managers We Tested:
- Norton password manager
Best Password Manager: 1Password
1Password stands out as the best password manager, offering industry-standard encryption, a secret key, zero-knowledge policy, frequent audits, and a bug bounty program. It provides an intuitive user experience, easy importing of passwords, strength ratings, and quick site access. With an individual subscription at $3 per month, you enjoy unlimited passwords, item storage, and 1GB of document storage. Upgrading to the family plan at $5 per month allows you to share credentials with up to five people.
Best Free Password Manager: Bitwarden
Bitwarden offers the best free password manager plan, including unlimited passwords on an unlimited number of devices. It provides open-source code, security audits, and data breach reports. While the free version has some limitations, it is a great option to get started with password management. Bitwarden’s paid version, priced at $10 annually for individuals or $40 for families, unlocks additional features such as encrypted file storage and emergency access.
Best Password Manager for Cross-Platform Availability: NordPass
NordPass offers excellent cross-platform availability, making it easy to access your vault from different devices and operating systems. The free plan includes unlimited passwords and syncing across devices. The premium subscription at $2 per month ensures seamless device switching, security notifications, and item sharing. The family subscription costs $4 per month and covers up to six premium accounts, making it a budget-friendly choice.
Best Password Manager for Shared Access: Dashlane
Dashlane is the recommended choice for shared access, as it emphasizes “secure sharing” even in its free plan. With four subscription options, Dashlane suits various needs. The free plan allows access on one device with unlimited passwords. The advanced plan, priced at $3 per month, offers unlimited devices and dark web monitoring. Premium and family plans offer additional features like VPN access and support for up to 10 users.
- Why use a password manager?
- How secure are password managers?
- What if I forget my master password?
- How can I create a good master password?
In the digital age, password managers are an essential tool for enhancing online security. They simplify password management, provide stronger security measures, and offer cross-platform availability. Our recommendations for 2023 include 1Password as the best overall password manager, Bitwarden as the best free option, NordPass for its cross-platform compatibility, and Dashlane for shared access.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about password managers
Why should I use a password manager?
Using a password manager offers several benefits for online security. It helps you store and manage complex passwords, ensuring each account has a unique and strong password. This reduces the risk of password-related attacks and enhances overall security.
How secure are password managers?
Password managers employ robust security measures to protect your data. Features like encryption, master passwords, and security keys add layers of protection. Additionally, reputable password manager providers undergo regular security audits and follow best practices to ensure the safety of your credentials.
What if I forget my master password?
Forgetting your master password can be challenging since password managers prioritize data security. Each provider has different recovery options. Some may offer security keys or account recovery processes, while others may have no means of recovering your vault. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a strong master password that you can remember but is difficult for others to guess.
How can I create a good master password?
Creating a strong master password involves using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It’s recommended to use a passphrase instead of a single word. For example, you can take a memorable sentence and transform it into a secure master password by using a mix of characters.