The Best Password Manager of 2020

Choose one of these password managers to secure your digital life.

The Best Password Manager of 2020

The best password managers help you control the chaos of all those accounts and passwords that you have written down on slips of paper.

And - let's be honest - "chaos" is a perfect description. The use of usernames and passwords for account authentication is a fundamentally flawed security mechanism. 

Usernames are often guessed, derived from the account holder's name or other characteristics. 

Complex passwords are difficult to remember, which is why many users have predetermined passwords such as "password", "abc123", your pet's name, and other easy-to-guess or easily hackable nomenclatures. 

And in a world where the volume of password breaches can be in the hundreds of millions, there is ample chance that your passwords are already floating around the seediest corners of the internet.

So there is a whole category of password managers because we have to create a more universal and secure method to limit access to our accounts. As that happens, password managers can help make account access easier for you and more difficult for hackers. At least, something.

Almost all password managers work on the principle that you create a master password to access your identity vault, and then the password manager fills in the individual usernames and passwords for the sites and applications you use. 

One of the advantages of this practice is that, since you no longer have to recover passwords, you can assign each site or app a different password, complex, and difficult to remember.

Of course, there are some risks. If a  hacker has access to your master password, all your accounts will be exposed to looting. Similarly, if a  hacker enters the central vault of the password management company, millions of keys may be stolen in a single move.

There are solutions to protect you from both risks. Most password managers use multi-factor authentication, so access to the credential vault is granted only with a correct password and personal authentication code. 

That code only exists on your own device, which limits the possibility that someone around the world can access your information.

Master vaults are also often protected by providers by encrypting your password information locally, even before it leaves your devices. 

That information is stored, in encrypted form, on the servers operated by the providers. In most cases, this is strong enough security.


The best free password manager

Lastpass

  • Offers free version
  • Base price paid version: US $ 36 per year
  • Works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android iPhone, and iPad. Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge, and Opera.

Some of our favorite options have a free version, but most lock you to a single device if you don't pay. 

The free version of LastPass stands out by allowing you to store passwords, login information, and credentials, and sync everything where you want it, on desktops, mobile devices, and browsers. You can also share a login item with someone else. 

For $ 36 a year, you can purchase the Premium version to share passwords, logins, memberships, and other items with trusted family and friends, multi-factor authentication,  and fingerprints and 1GB of encrypted storage. 

And with a $ 48 annual subscription, you can sign up for the family plan that provides six individual accounts, shared folders, and a dashboard to manage accounts and monitor your account security.

Best subscription password manager

1Password

  • Offers trial version
  • Base price: US $ 35.88 a year
  • Works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iPhone, and iPad. Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, and Opera. 

1Password has been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. One of the most interesting features of 1Password is its integration in code with a large number of mobile applications. 

Rather than the required copy/paste process with other password managers (notably on iOS, which is quite fussy about inter-app communication), 1Password is embedded at the code level in a host of popular mobile apps.

Another useful feature is 1Password's ability to act as an authentication app, so there is no need to have a password manager or apps like Google Authenticator or Authy. 

1Password does not use traditional multi-factor authentication (with the exception of fingerprints on iOS and Android). 

Rather than using an authentication application to add an additional factor of safety, 1Password adds a secret key to the encryption key, so data cannot be decrypted without that key. That key lives on your devices, so no one without your device can access it.

A great feature of 1Password is its well-designed "travel mode", which allows you to remove everything but a certain subset of your passwords from any vault accessible by any machine traveling with you. 

This prevents anyone, including law enforcement officials at border controls, from accessing your password. 

You can also create separate guest accounts to share Wi-Fi passwords, for example, or home alarm codes with your guests.

Other options worth considering

Both LastPass and 1Password are strong and affordable password protectors, and in a survey, they were almost tied, although the latter allows you to take advantage of  1Password for Journalism, an initiative that offers the free service to journalists. 

But if you find that neither of our two recommended password managers works the way you like, it's worth considering as many other apps. All of the ones mentioned below have free versions available.

Bitwarden

  • Offers free version
  • Base price beyond free: US $ 10 a year 
  • Works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iPhone, and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, and Tor Browser.


Bitwarden is an open-source software password manager that can automatically store and populate your passwords on your favorite devices and browsers, including Brave and Tor, for free. 

It lacks some of the benefits of our recommended managers, but for $ 10 a year, you can add 1GB of encrypted file storage.

KeePass

  • Is free
  • Donations accepted
  • Works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iPhone and iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Palm OS. Access via the Web through popular extensions.


KeePass, another open-source software, started in Windows and has been transferred using the same code base to other platforms, including macOS, Android, and iOS. On the positive side, it is completely free and is backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Dashlane

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: US $ 39.96 per year

One of the most interesting features of Dashlane is what it calls Site Breach Alerts. The idea is that if any of the sites you access has a violation, Dashlane will notify you. 

Of course, this is limited to sites that are known to be infringing, and generally more important sites. Still, it's a great feature that will help you sleep better at night. Security is like that.

Dashlane can import from other competitors, including 1Password, RoboForm, and LastPass. It also offers a mechanism to import from CSV files.

You can choose not to store any password data on Dashlane's servers (which use a proprietary security architecture), but to do so, you must disable syncing, which means you are responsible for managing, backing up, and moving your data.

Keeper

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: the US $ 29.99 per year. 

Keeper is another password service that helps you manage login information on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. A free version offers you unlimited passwords on a single device. 

The advanced version costs between $ 25 to $ 30 a year, but to get the features you really want, the ability to sync your passwords across all your devices, and get secure file storage, will cost you $ 60 a year, which is more than our best options.

How does a password manager work

To get started, a password manager will record the username and password you use when you first log into a website or service. Then the next time you use or visit that site, the forms will automatically populate with your login information. 

For those websites and services that do not handle automatic filling, an administrator allows you to copy the password to paste it in the password field.

If you are stuck trying to choose a good password, the administrator can generate a strong password for you and see that you are not reusing any of the services. 

And if you use more than one device, it's best to find an administrator that is available on all your devices and browsers, so you can access your passwords and login information, including your credit card and shipping information, from anywhere through the administrator application or your browser extension.

Please note: many password managers maintain the master password that you use to unlock the manager locally and not on a remote server. Or if it is on a server, it is encrypted and the company cannot read it.

What constitutes a strong password 

A good password should be a long string of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation, and other non-alphanumeric characters, something that is difficult for others to guess, but very easy for a password manager to handle. 

And despite what you've heard, once you select a good password, you really don't need to change it periodically.

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