Do you use a password manager? Do you know why you should start? Find out how easy it is to increase your online security.
To understand how beneficial password managers can be, close your eyes and imagine you live in 1920s New York City. You’re a typewriter salesman by day, poker player by night.
Your name is Jergins, or maybe it’s Mitzy, and after a nice dinner of pork and beans, you hit the streets and make your way to an underground gambling den in Hell’s Kitchen.
You duck into the alleyway and trundle down the dirty stairwell until you reach the basement door. You knock three times, and a slot opens with a rusty squeal. A pair of bloodshot eyes peers out at you. The owner of those eyes mumbles in a rough, whiskey-soaked voice:
“What’s the password?”
Now imagine you have to go through the same rigmarole for every website, mobile app, and social media platform that asks you for a password.
That’s a lot of information to remember, a lot of dark alleys to navigate, and a lot of door slots to talk through. Thankfully, there are an abundance of password managers out there that can save you brain space.
If you conduct business online, using a password manager is essential for security, convenience, and organization.
At their most basic, password managers remember all your passwords for you, allowing you to create secure, unique passwords for every account.
But when it comes to matters of price, features, and user experience, different password managers fulfill different customer needs. The following is an overview of five popular password management solutions.
The impala antelope is known for its high speeds and acute sense of danger, making it the perfect choice for Dashlane’s logo.
Like the Impala, Dashlane is an agile, ever-watchful piece of software that turns the complicated process of password management into something intuitive and easy to use.
Launched in 2012, Dashlane is a fairly recent addition to the password manager market, but the software has already risen in the ranks due to its sharply designed interface and straightforward user experience. Dashlane is also prized for its many features, including form autofill, password changer, secure sharing, and two-factor authentication.
One of Dashlane’s standout tools is its Digital Wallet, which streamlines your online shopping experience by storing payment types, saving itemized receipts, and cataloging screenshots of purchases. With the Digital Wallet, all online orders are logged and aggregated into one easily searchable database.
The basic version of Dashlane, which comes with the Digital Wallet, is free, but to sync your passwords across all of your devices, you must purchase Dashlane Premium at $39.99. Premium comes with additional features too, such as secure account backup, unlimited secure sharing, and priority support.
- Dashlane notifies you when a site you have an account on has been hacked.
- Over the years, Dashlane has made great progress in reducing the app’s memory usage for their plugins, making it more lightweight than ever.
Arriving on the scene in 2008, LastPass is another freemium, cloud-based password manager that comes standard with a boatload of smart features.
Some highlights include credit monitoring, password deduplication, and its security audit capability, which evaluates the strength of every password you’ve either imported from your browser or entered directly into LastPass.
Each password is then given a security score and a direct link from which you can quickly apply changes.
Like Dashlane, the basic version of LastPass is free. LastPass Premium (for individuals) costs $12/yr and offers extra features like unlimited sync across devices and additional multifactor authentication options.
LastPass Enterprise, which is for businesses, and offers even more features, will run you $24/yr.
It should be noted, however, that LastPass has experienced two major security breaches, the most recent of which saw hackers steal sensitive data, including email addresses and password reminders.
Fortunately, no password vaults were infiltrated, which should say something about the product’s lauded encryption capabilities, but the popularity of LastPass does make it a target.
- LastPass also supports a variety of fingerprint readers for desktop computers and smartphones.
- Unlike some other competing products, LastPass doesn’t require a client install, and can live solely on your browser.
KeePass is the programmer’s password manager. For one thing, the interface bears an old school, no-frills aesthetic. For another, it’s free and open-source, meaning that anyone with a little programming knowledge can review KeePass’s code to ensure there are no bugs or vulnerabilities.
Unlike LastPass and Dashlane, which store your passwords in the cloud, KeePass passwords are stored inside an encrypted database that lives locally, on your own system.
Nothing is synced unless you decide to sync it, and the software cannot be hacked unless it is done directly from your machine.
With its offline access and powerful encryption, KeePass users have total control over every aspect of the software, and due in part to its open-sourcery, KeePass contains numerous features, tools, and third-party plugins that increase security and simplify the password management process.
For example, the software’s Auto-Type feature is like a more powerful version of its competitors’ form autofill, and can log into sites, system dialogs, and applications that other password managers cannot.
- Despite KeePass’s extra precautions, the product is still portable. All you need is a thumb drive and the software can be configured on other machines.
- There are a few mobile implementations of KeePass available for iOS and Android, but they are developed by third-parties, so do your due diligence before you click download.
Sold by the AgileBits company, 1Password is consistently praised for its ability to seamlessly integrate into almost any browser or device. If you’re the kind of person who has three computers, five phones, and a few dozen tablets (these people do in fact exist), 1Password is the way to go.
1Password provides many of the same features as its competitors, such as a digital wallet, a password generator, and password sharing capabilities, but the product does have a few new surprises up its sleeve.
There’s 1Password’s Password Recipe, for instance, which helps you customize passwords while aligning them with your password preferences. Then there is Watchtower, which identifies websites that may be vulnerable to Heartbleed, a common security bug, and advises you which sites need new passwords.
1Password’s cost structure differs from the usual freemium model. Users can try the product for free, or purchase the Premium version for a one-time fee of $50.
Rather than purchasing the product, you’re technically purchasing a product license, and 1Password is licensed on a per-platform basis.
This means that if you buy a single license for a Mac device, you can install it for free on as many devices as you want, as long as those devices are on the Mac platform.
- At the beginning of November, 1Password released 1Password for Teams, making it easy to manage access with multiple people.
- 1Password is very transparent about how they store your data, and go out of their way to explain their data format.
RoboForm launched in 1999, and while it never exploded into popularity. it has built up a diehard user base thanks to the software’s:
- powerful encryption capabilities
- ease of use
- budget-friendly cost structure.
Like its successors, RoboForm offers features like form autofill and tools like the password generator, but it also delivers more novel accessories, like the Bookmarklet (adorable). Only available for RoboFrom Everywhere users (we’ll get to that in a minute), the Bookmarklet lets you automatically login to websites on machines where RoboForm is not installed
- RoboForm for mobile-only use is free.
- Unfortunately, RoboForm has no smartphone-based two-factor authentication.