In an age where passwords are everywhere and you absolutely cannot remember them all, Password Managers are a necessary evil. The one you pick needs to balance price, features, design, and UI — and of course, it needs to be secure. If your passwords get compromised in a server penetration or an encryption error, then you have to change your passwords for everything. These managers are the best of the bunch, with each having unique strengths and feature flavorings in their desire to stand out and deliver the most secure, satisfactory experience you can have.
LastPass is one of the most popular password managers on the planet for a reason: it brings a good balance of features for each of its pricing tiers. There’s a pretty robust free option and a well-priced 6-person family plan so that you can keep your whole family safe by teaching your kids proper password and data protection habits at a young age, especially with features like Security Challenges to help you proactively change and improve your passwords.
- Free (Single user, 50MB of encrypted data)
- $36/year (Single user Premium)
- $48/year (6-user Families Premium)
Dashlane is first and foremost a well-designed, easy-to-use password manager, but these days it’s also something of a one-stop-shopping experience for online data security. Dashlane Premium comes with a VPN, separate secure browser, and Dark Web Monitoring to alert you if your info shows up in a data-dump. Premium Plus even includes credit monitoring and Identity Theft insurance, and all of those features jack up the price.
- Free (50 passwords, single device)
- $5/month (Premium)
- $10/month (Premium Plus)
Easiest to use
1Password is a password manager that fell behind a few years ago, but it’s surged to become one of the easiest-to-use and well-featured password managers around. Its $36/year membership is competitive, and while 1Password does have trial periods, you must pay to play. 1Password’s Travel Vault can be an extra handy feature for frequent international travelers as it allows you to purge specific accounts from your on-device storage so they can’t be tampered with or copied.
- $36/year (Single user Premium)
- $60/year (5-user Family Premium)
Don’t think you should have to pay every month — or every year — just to keep your passwords in one secure location? Enpass is for you. This well-designed password manager is available on any platform you could want, but is a one-time purchase rather than a subscription. And better yet, it won’t store any of your data on its own servers. Instead, you sync your vault through your own cloud storage accounts of choice, like Google Drive or Dropbox, and that makes Enpass even more appealing than the lack of recurring payments.
- Free (20 passwords, single device)
- $12 one-time-purchase
Puns and panache
TunnelBear is one of the cuter and more reliable VPNs on the market, and in late 2017, they debuted a password manager called RememBear — because it was too good a bear pun to pass up. This manager is well-designed, easy to manage, and if you only want to use it on one device, it’s absolutely free, but it won’t backup or sync without Premium, which runs $3 per month or $36 per year. It also causes bears to pop up all over my phone, and I need that ferocious adorability in my life right now.
- Free (one-device, no sync/backup)
- $36/year (single-user Premium) at RememBear
Admittedly, this isn’t the most secure password manager in existence, but it still requires you to enter your Google account password to view or edit the data on the Google Passwords website or in your Google Account settings. This is the default Autofill service on Android and Chrome, and if you don’t want to hassle with Master Keys and oodles of encryption, this one’s for you.
Free at Google
LastPass is our go-to
LastPass allows you to just remember one password to access your data on a new device: your master password. Unlike 1Password and other password managers that require you to also keep track of an access key, LastPass makes it easy to sign into a new device and relies on your email for secondary authentication. It’s possible to set specific passwords to only be visible to particular identities, which is incredibly useful when having a shared family or team account, and you can create – and store – secure passwords with ease.
Security Challenge identifies weak and compromised passwords.
LastPass comes with an additional cost, but our Nirave Gondhia says it’s worth it thanks to the built-in security challenge. If you’ve been using a set of passwords for all of your internet life, you’ll be surprised at how many may have been subject to a data breach. The security challenge identifies passwords that have been compromised, that have weak security, have been used multiple times, or are old and in need of updating. For more popular services like email and social media, it will let you automatically change them and save the new password with one click, whereas for others, it’ll prompt you to change them at the site. The security challenge helps keep your data secure, and remains the reason we recommends LastPass.
Enpass puts everything in your hands
The most important parts of any password manager are security and convenience. Enpass offers the same level of password vault security as the rest of the competition, but there’s an added layer of security in its model because it doesn’t store any of your data itself — you choose where to store and sync it. That adds a little more overhead for you at first, but you can have the peace of mind of knowing you control the vault’s location.
Then there’s convenience. Of course, Enpass has apps for all of the major platforms, and your cloud service of choice can provide syncing, but there’s nothing more convenient than never having a recurring payment just to keep your password manager around. Enpass is a one-time purchase, not a subscription, so you buy it and own it. That’s it.
Google’s built-in password manager might be enough for you
There’s a lot of great password managers out there that bring a lot more control and multi-layer security to this affair, but our Ara Wagoner hasn’t felt the need to pay for any of them since the default Autofill from Google gets the job done just fine:
I’m loathed to store most of my passwords anywhere, but I have to admit that I am a super-forgetful person, and so even though remembering a Master Key is easier than remembering hundreds of individual passwords, I don’t want to hassle with it. The most important of my passwords are properly hidden outside any one system, and the rest sit in Google Passwords behind the same Master Key most of my life uses: my 2-factor-enabled Google Account password.
1Password’s simplicity is its strength
1Password has taken a long, winding road to get to Android prominence, but the once Apple-only app is now intuitive and at feature-parity with its iOS counterpart.
The great thing about 1Password is its simplicity: like all options in this list, the app ties into Android’s built-in password manager SDK, but if an app doesn’t support it for whatever reason, 1Password has its own keyboard that lets you quickly copy-and-paste a username and password into the appropriate field.
1Password supports tags and groups; it can be used to generate random strong passwords or 2FA codes; it supports multiple vaults, one for personal and one for a family or a team, and switches between them seamlessly; it’s fast to load and rarely crashes. 1Password also supports U2F keys now, adding an extra level of protection to your account and your passwords.
According to our managing editor Daniel Bader, “1Password does everything well and is worth my annual subscription. In fact, for $36 a year, it’s a bargain.”