Best Password Managers

Password Managers

It is common knowledge these days that a password manager is the best way to keep all your passwords safe and yet be able to access them easily.

The big question that many people want answered is which are the best password managers on the market right now.

It’s a good question, and with many password managers available, it’s easy to be confused. There are premium password manager services, and there are free password manager options too. So, which should you choose if you are on the lookout for the best password manager?

However, in this article, we’ve reduced it down to five of the leading password manager tools and will be explaining their pros and cons to help you choose.

After extensive testing, our pick for the best password manager on the market right now is 1Password. Despite a recent security incident, we believe this password manager remains the best and most trustworthy password manager on the market right now.

We have tested them all, and in this guide, we will explain why we have reached that decision.

One thing is for sure, with hacking attacks threatening pretty much every website out there, it is more important than ever to have a unique password for each of your accounts. And with most of us having dozens of accounts, remembering every one is impossible without some help.

This is why everyone should be using a good password manager. We have taken a look at the best, including those with iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS apps, because we know you want your password manager to be available on all the devices you use.

Keep reading for our expert rundown of the best password managers around right now.

What are Password Managers?

A Password Manager is an app that allows you to store your existing passwords, online credentials, and data and easily retrieve them at any time just by remembering a single master password.

This usually means your username and password, but some dedicated password manager tools will even store other details like your address for quick form filling as well as help you to generate unique passwords, identify compromised passwords, and facilitate secure sharing.

No more remembering complex passwords. All you have to remember is the master password for your password manager. That one master password lets you access your unique password vault, where your password manager is storing passwords and data securely and in an encrypted way.

The most secure password managers will also generate incredibly secure passwords automatically and even update them regularly, so you don’t even need to give it a second thought.

We know how important all of these features are to security and privacy-conscious users, which is why we have been testing all the most popular password managers to see which is the best password manager for you. And in the next section, you can read our rundown of the top 5 best password managers.

Top 5 Password Managers

Our top best password manager picks are:

  1. 1Password
  2. DashLane
  3. KeePassXC
  4. Password Boss
  5. Bitwarden
  6. LastPass

Let’s analyse each of these password manager providers individually to see what features they offer and what sets them apart from the rest of the field. If you want to find out more about any, just click on the links in this guide.

1. 1Password

1Password website

1Password is a powerful password manager that will remember your passwords for you in a secure password vault and let you log into websites with a single click. It is user-friendly, with a modern design, which means you can use 1Password to achieve peace of mind for you and your family.

The 1Password service supports a couple of different methods of 2FA, making your account even more secure. Everything from an authenticator app to hardware devices like the YubiKey and others are supported by this great password manager.

Additional features such as ‘travel mode’ that allows you to specify certain vaults safe for travel provide bonus layers of protection and some nifty keyboard shortcuts.

There are a range of desktop apps for Windows, MacOS, and more, mobile apps for iOS, Android, and other devices and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and more. You can use 1Password on just about any mobile device or desktop computer you like.

Even better, 1Password is one of the growing number of dedicated password managers that has chosen to include a free version. That means our top recommended password manager is a free password manager as long as you are happy to accept some service limitations.

But it will still keep your data safe, and 1Password even has a family plan option that allows you to keep your family members’ passwords secure.

1Password was recently embroiled in the Okta cyber breach that affected a number of tech firms. They have clarified that no user data has been breached, and we have seen no evidence to the contrary. This is why we have no hesitation in naming 1Password as number one in our top password managers list.

2. DashLane

Dashlane website

Next, we have DashLane, which is another very well-known name in the password manager industry.

Just like 1Password, it also has a free and premium version, and it will let you quickly store, secure, and access any password you wish.

You can use DashLane on a range of different platforms through desktop apps for Windows, MacOS, and Linux with mobile apps for Android, iOS, and also plugins for all the common web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and more. All offer a user-friendly and well-designed user interface.

There are all the features you would expect from one of the most secure password manager tools on the market, including a password generator, secure sharing, and autofill, and it lets you store secure notes and documents within. Like 1Password, it also offers multi-factor authentication to ensure secure storage and minimise the risks of a data breach.

Finally, DashLane does dark web monitoring to try to discover whether any of the passwords you stored have appeared on a dodgy site somewhere. This could be due to security lapses or data thefts from third parties.

Whether you opt for the free tier or a paid-for account, Dashlane is a feature-packed password manager you can trust.

3. KeePassXC

KeepassXC website

Then, we have KeePassXC, which is the best choice for advanced users.

It allows self-hosting, which is its key feature, and a significant benefit, provided that you know how to handle it. You are responsible for the security of your files. Where other password managers offer a password vault protected by a strong master password, KeePassXC stores all the data locally to lower the risk of a hack accessing your sensitive data or falling victim to data breaches.

This also puts a strain on beginners, so if you’re not tech-savvy, this probably isn’t the solution for you. But there are apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS devices as well as browser extension options for most web browsers too.

If you know what you are doing, then this is an excellent option for you. It features robust encryption, it is open-source, and it works across numerous platforms, which makes it highly efficient and useful for safely storing your passwords.

This is probably the best free password manager on the market right now, but unlike other password managers, it is not hugely user-friendly, so if you aren’t confident with this type of tech, we would advise you to opt for the free version of one of the other password management software options on this list.

4. Password Boss

PasswordBoss website

Next, we have Password Boss, which uses cloud-based storage and has attracted many users thanks to its free version.

They have apps for all major devices, including desktop apps for Windows, MacOS but not for Linux users, as it’s one of the only systems they don’t officially support. There are also mobile apps for iOS and Android devices and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

The service does, however, come with several benefits. These include ‘bank-grade’ security (standard 256-bit AES encryption), dark web monitoring, multi factor authentication, and a free version for single gadgets as well as the ability to store unlimited passwords.

You can use it to edit text, images, pages, and more. It can automatically fill forms and be used for securely sharing passwords and personal data with others.

As a password management tool goes, Password Boss is a very capable password manager. It is not the best on this list, and, in our testing, it was not the most user-friendly either. But it does generate strong passwords and keep all your passwords and data safe.

5. Bitwarden

Bitwarden website screenshot

Bitwarden is a highly secure open-source password manager that does not only store passwords but also comes with tons of other excellent features. It is a premium service, but fear not, as it comes with a very low price tag, and there is a free tier too with limited features that you can try as well..

This is a good password manager that offers all the necessary security tools that you would expect from a password manager. It features strong encryption, 2FA, password breach monitoring, security auditing, local and cloud hosting options, and more.

It has apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and also browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and more.

If it has a downside, it’s the fact that it is also not quite as user-friendly as some of the others, so users who never relied on a password manager before might have a bit of a learning curve to deal with initially.

However, you will quickly learn the ropes, and it is highly recommended that you try it out to get a feel for how password managers work. It is a good, low-cost option for tech-savvy users, especially if they are on a budget and can’t afford to pay too much to keep their passwords safe.

The manager does feel slightly basic, but it is among the cheapest ones on the market, costing just $10 per year for a personal account. Plus, it comes with great extra features. As password manager deals go, Bitwarden is up there with the best value-for-money platforms compared to other password managers.

Apart from your login credentials, you can store secure notes, credit card data that gets auto-filled, and more. Password generation is simple too, and with secure sharing and protections from data breach risks, this is a password manager that ticks all the key boxes.

All in all, it is a great manager and definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for a new password security tool.

6. LastPass

LastPass website

LastPass is pretty much the industry standard when it comes to password managers and is the best password manager around as far as we are concerned.

Sadly we can no longer recommend LastPass after a security breach in August of 2022. It was later revealed in December 2022 that hackers had managed to walk away with user’s security vaults.

These store an encrypted version of every user’s password.

While it may be unlikely that the hacker can decrypt those passwords, some users who have used easily guessable master passwords or not changed them to longer, more complicated ones, since LastPass enforced a new rule to change to a more complex master password may be at risk of having their password database breached.

The security community has not looked favourably at LastPass and how they have handled this situation. A good write-up can be seen from Lukasz Olejnik on his Almost Secure blog.

I was a Lastpass user and I have now switched to 1Password. Our advice to all our readers is to switch their password manager account to one of the other providers on this list.

How to choose a Password Manager

If you Google password manager, you will turn up all the usual names. But how can you be sure to choose a password manager that’s right for you? Based on our tests, we are pretty confident that, for most people, the choice will probably come down to DashLane or 1Password.

Based on features and usability, 1Password is our top pick, and it’s not just us who rate it.

Tech website, Wired picked 1Password and Bitwarden as their favourites, with DashLane a close runner-up.

Lifehacker has both LastPass and Bitwarden in their top five, and WireCutter chose 1Password with BitWarden as their alternative free option. Tom’s Guide opted for 1Password as their favourite.

Ultimately there is very little between the top choice. Many have free trials, all allow upgrading for extra features, and all have apps for most major desktop and mobile devices, including Android and iOS devices.

Ultimately, you won’t go far wrong with any of these password managers. We would recommend that you opt for their paid password managers packages as these offer the best range of features and levels of security. But a free tier is still much better than nothing as free users still benefit from the core features.

How we rated Password Managers

In our extensive tests, there are a number of different criteria we have used to identify the best password managers of 2024:

Encryption – We assessed how secure each password manager was by examining the encryption levels they used with 256-bit AES encryption, which is the minimum standard we were looking for.

We also took extra security features like two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication, open-source software, secure password sharing, and zero-knowledge protocols into consideration too.

Strong password protections – When you choose a password manager, you are trusting them to protect all your online accounts, so it is important they store your data on secure servers and that when it is transmitted back to your devices, it is also secure.

We also looked into whether our recommended password managers had been subjected to a third-party security audit, and again, features like two-factor authentication were considered.

Cloud storage was another factor. Lots of Password Managers like to use cloud storage, but some users prefer their data to be stored on their device, and there are providers that offer this on our list as well.

Unlimited password storage – We all have hundreds of online accounts these days, so users need a password manager with unlimited storage available to handle all these passwords.

Usability – The best password managers are ones that are simple to use and blend seamlessly into your online experience. This means great apps and browser extensions for the devices you use, such as Android, iOS, Windows and macOS. We also looked for a usable password generator,

We tested each one out thoroughly to determine which offered the most user-friendly all-around experience for both techies and those getting a password manager for the first time.

We know that some readers don’t need to keep things simple but want a password manager work platform that offers advanced features that most password managers avoid. We have factored those into this guide as well.

Features – Advanced features are key to differentiating between many password managers, so we took the time to consider things like file storage, automatic form filling, secure password sharing, provision of secure browsers, and so on.

Unlimited devices and syncing – Everyone accesses the internet on multiple devices these days, so their password manager needs to work on all devices and sync easily between different devices too.

Prices – The best password managers are able to offer a user-friendly service and a great range of features at an affordable price.

We know price is a factor in most people’s thinking which is why we have built value for money and things like a family plan into our thinking.

Customer Support – Everyone needs a little help from time to time, so we looked at the customer service provisions of all our password managers to determine how helpful, responsive, and customer-friendly they were.

Never save password data in your browser

Moss browsers these days will offer to save passwords to help you log into websites and online services quicker and easier. Our strong expert advice is that saving passwords in web browsers is not the best idea, even though it seems convenient.

The biggest problem with this is that anyone using the browser can access them. This means that your passwords are free for the taking by anyone.

Password phishing

Browsers are also not 100% safe in terms of security. They can be infected during hacking attacks, or visiting a suspicious website could lead to your details being exposed.

Just think – if a hacker ever takes control of your device, they will have access to your passwords. Not to mention what might happen if your device is lost or stolen.

A password manager secures your passwords behind a master password which means that, even if you are using a free version, your passwords are still secure even if your device is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.

Are there any free password managers?

Most password managers are not completely free, but many of the best password manager providers have a free version that you can use to try them out if you are happy with some feature limitations.

Some of them are free and open-source, while others have free trials, but you need to upgrade to unlock premium features.

1Password, for example, has a limited-time free version, and for some, this may be enough, but with low prices, it’s worth considering an upgrade.

However, some free versions only let you store a limited number of passwords, which does not make them very useful.

1Password’s premium features include things that you won’t find in the free version.

Premium features include one-to-many sharing, emergency access, priority tech support, advanced multi-factor options, support for apps, 1GB-large encrypted file storage, and more.

Besides, they are not that expensive, and you can get it for around $3 per month, which is not going to break the bank.

Is using a password manager safe?

Safety depends on your choice of a password manager.

Most of them are, as they use strong, what is often called ‘military’ or ‘bank’ level encryption, which are impossible to crack.

These terms are mostly advertising words, but the theory behind them is sound.

Open-source password managers have their code free for anyone to inspect. So if you see them making certain claims regarding the quality of their security, you can be sure that someone knowledgeable has checked, and confirmed that they speak the truth.

Padlock with password

With all that said, there have been security breaches in the past. Previously, experts warned against some password manager exploits, and we have talked in this guide about a breach at Lastpass, which is why we no longer recommend them, and also problems that 1Password has faced and overcome as a result of a cyberattack on a third-party online tool.

No solution is perfect, and even the best password management tools can be vulnerable, as was shown with the LastPass hack of 2022.

However, it’s much safer to store many random passwords with a password manager than to continue to use the same old, weak password across all your accounts.

Surely password managers can’t be all good?

Naturally, while there are many reasons why you should use password managers, there are always arguments against it.

Here are a few of them:

  • They might be compromised in a security breach, in which case all your passwords could be stolen.
  • You might not use the same platform across all of your devices, and finding a manager that works on all platforms could be challenging.
  • Using password managers means having to trust third parties.
  • Losing your master password could lead to a lengthy headache to recover everything.
  • If the service goes down, you won’t be able to log into websites if you don’t remember your passwords. (Yes, this happened to me with LastPass for 4 hours!).

Can’t I just write down my passwords?

Of course, you can.

The question is: is it a good idea?

Writing things down on a piece of paper and then hiding it somewhere secure is undoubtedly one of the safest things to do.

However, you better make sure that you protect those login credentials as best as humanly possible.

Handwritten paper with passwords

Yes, this really was my old password solution.

If someone finds it – a family member, friend, or an intruder – they could have access to your accounts, personal data, and even credit card information. With all this data lost, you could become the victim of identity theft or worse.

And what about accessing your accounts and personal data when you are away from home?

You would have to carry the paper around. What if you lose it? It could get stolen or damaged.

Not to mention that using long, complicated passwords is difficult to type correctly, especially when using phones or devices without full keyboards.

Password managers can autofill the fields for you, and you will be logged in within a second.

Ultimately it is entirely your decision, but as far as we can see, it is an absolute no-brainer to use a password manager.

Advanced Password-Management Features

The majority of password management tools offer the same basic features, so a lot of users will look at the advanced features to differentiate between them. That’s certainly what we did in reviewing them for this guide.

One that a lot of users look for is the ability to manage passwords to be used directly in apps rather than just on websites in browsers.

Many of us access online accounts through dedicated apps, and if your password manager can’t help with these, it can be a little frustrating having to either remember yourself or copy-paste from their dashboard.

Some password managers also provide users with a secure browser. This is designed to help you stay safe when accessing sensitive accounts like online banking.

Some will even open this browser automatically for you when seeking to log into these accounts.

From a security point of view, the ability to automatically update your password is a really helpful feature, too, as it means you are keeping up with expert advice on changing passwords regularly without actually having to do anything yourself.

Most password managers will let you sync passwords across multiple devices. A few will offer you the ability to share passwords with other users securely.

Some can even do this without actually revealing your password.

It is usually not advisable to share your passwords with anyone, but everyone has the odd occasion where this is necessary, so it is always useful to be able to do it safely and securely when necessary.

Are all Password managers the same?

When you start to look into password managers, you will quickly notice that a lot of different products offer similar features, such as saving passwords securely, generating new secure passwords, device syncing, two-factor authentication, and automatic form filling.

This can make it hard to tell one password manager from another, and the assumption can quickly arise that they are all the same.

Nothing could be further from the truth, though and, as with so many things, the devil is in the detail. There are a number of ways in which password managers that appear to be the same are, in fact, very different.

Different password managers can offer different levels of encryption while all claiming to encrypt your data. 256-bit AES encryption is the minimum level of encryption you should look for, but there are password managers out there that still have weaker encryption.

Different password managers can offer two-factor authentication, but some can be much more robust in their security provisions than others.

All password managers will claim to be good value for money, but a closer look at the actual monthly price, what is included for the money, and any special deals can result in big differences being spotted.

The main differences will be found in advanced features, as we have already discussed.

Here you can often find big differences between providers. But even when both offer the same thing, such as automatic form filling, it is worth looking into how this feature works in practice, as there are likely to be differences.

The key thing is to do your research, and if you have read this far, you will know that we have done much of the hard graft that you need to do for you and in this guide, we have narrowed what is quite a large field of password manager providers down to the very best handful of services.

What are the most common passwords?

Common passwords have been a topic of many studies. People tend to use passwords that are easy for them to remember.

However, this is dangerous, as they are also easy for hackers to guess.

In fact, a study by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is the latest study undertaken by a UK Government body, found that the most common passwords were wholly inadequate.

Here are some of the most common passwords that people tend to use:

  • 123456
  • “Password”
  • Names (Ashley, Michael, Daniel, Jessica, Charlie)
  • Sunday
  • August
  • qwerty
  • 111111
  • abc123
  • password1
  • 1234
  • iloveyou
  • monkey
  • dragon
  • birthdays

As you can see, some of these are pretty bad, and hackers might even guess them on their first try.

Such passwords are not a proper way to secure your account, so if you tend to use passwords like these – change them immediately, then get yourself a password manager.

It’s also worth checking out HaveIBeenPwned.com, which will tell you if any of your accounts have turned up in website security breaches.

What type of password would be considered secure?

Passwords that you should use should be long and complicated. They should include special characters, lower and upper-case letters and numbers.

  • You may come up with a sentence and use the first letter of each word, which is easy to remember and stay safe and seemingly random.

Here are a few examples of safe passwords:

  • j411y22fi$h
  • $m3llyc4t
  • !Lov3MyP!an0
  • d3ltag4mm@
  • d0gs4remyb3stfr13nd$

Another technique advocated by some cyber security experts is to put together three unconnected works and then add the features recommended above to them. Examples would be things like:

  • bucK3tjuMP8Rcr@yf1sh
  • L1verp0oln0TEbo0Kp(nT
  • Tis5u3ch@1rp0l!sH

However, a password manager will do an even better job and give you the likes of:

  • Mz3yLB!4Cpmzy8^3
  • ##3trk9W^36Bgj4M
  • AaLn733cne5M%!Cr

Notice the difference?

Even though our own generated passwords are considered to be quite strong and are unlikely ever to be randomly guessed, the ones created by a password manager are twice as secure.

Without a password manager, you must remember them, but try remembering more than 5 of them, and you will see why password managers are necessary.

Make your Password Manager even more secure

There is another thing you can do to make your devices and accounts secure, which is to combine password managers with a hardware device.

Devices like YubiKey can be used to authenticate yourself (login) with your password manager. Plus, add an extra layer of authentication known as 2FA (2-factor authentication).

Yubikey 2FA device on a keychain

That way, you won’t have to remember a master password, nor allow someone else the opportunity to guess it or find it on a piece of paper.

You would be the only one who can access it with your hardware key.

All of the best password managers allow different types of authentication options, and most support hardware devices such as the YubiKey.

How safe are password managers?

How safe your password manager is depends on a number of different factors.

A key one is the level of encryption they use. Make sure it is military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, at least since this is uncrackable. Open source software also helps to ensure safety too since every line of code can be carefully scrutinised.

Another safety factor is the master password. If you go to the effort of getting a password manager set up and then use a weak master password, it might not be worth all the effort.

Consider a paid password manager if you can afford it since these will often have extra security features that you can use. And always look out for two-factor authentication to ensure your password manager cannot be compromised.

Ultimately, all of the password managers in this guide should be secure as long as you use them properly and sensibly.

Is it worth paying for a password manager?

If you can afford to pay, our advice is yes.

A paid-for plan with any of these password managers will unlock useful security features that will help you keep your passwords, accounts, data, and links private and secure.

Paid-for plans will let you use your password manager on all devices, and no one sticks to just one device these days if they are honest.

It is not absolutely essential, and there are good free options which we have flagged in this guide as a result of our tests, but a paid-for VPN is definitely worth the money if you can afford it.

A Visual Guide to Password Managers

Password Managers infographic

Summary

Using password managers is extremely easy and more than necessary these days as cyber-attacks get more and more common.

With so many websites, we tend to have dozens of accounts, and if you are doing things properly – each of them has its own unique password.

But remembering them all is impossible (if you have made them as secure as you should), and the likelihood is you use one or two passwords or a combination of the same passwords across all the different websites you use.

Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s human nature to use the same password if you can remember it, and you certainly arent be alone.

However, if you’re looking to stay extra secure, then using 1Password or one of the other recommended password manager apps in this guide will keep your passwords safe.

1Password is the best password manager on the market for our money, thanks to its combination of great apps for mobile devices like iOS and Android, desktop devices like Windows, MacOS, and Linux, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and more. We have tested all the biggest names, and our team is unanimous that 1Password is the best.

It has all the essential security features you need, like two-factor authentication and secure password sharing, and some great family deals and individual deals that mean it is a cost-effective and secure password management solution.

Other resources

Illustration © Sujeet Kumar | Dreamstime.com

Author: Ali Raza

Ali is a journalist with a keen interest in VPN usage. He is an expert in the field and has been covering VPN related topics for VPNCompare and numerous well-respected publications for many years.

Comments

  1. Joe

    I am so disappointed in this article. Last pass does not deserve the number one spot. IMO, it doesn’t work across all phones correctly, and doesn’t contain necessary features anyone with more than one device needs. I use Enpass and chose it after a substantial about of research. 1. You store your master password file on your server (dropbox, one drive etc) and 2. You access and update the master file from any devices you choose. The office computer, your tablet, your phone, your wife’s phone… Whatever. Very disappointed to read such an incomplete article that didn’t include the password managers that people with multiple devices can choose where you’re private data isn’t stored on their server.

    • Hi Joe,

      It’s a fair comment and we appreciate you taking the time to post.

      The article is mainly aimed at those new to Password Managers who might find dealing with the master password file a little tricky or intimidating. However, for more advanced users, Enpass would be a great solution. My only concern would be that you’re moving the trust for your master password file from LastPass, 1Password etc to another file hosting service like Dropbox or Onedrive who are also susceptible to security flaws.

  2. Pssst3

    The most commonly available password management system is that of Google Chrome. It would be helpful if it were to be compared to the top rated ones, to show why it is not preferred or not secure.

  3. Pssst3

    BTW, the weak link in most sign-in credential systems is email address. I “beat” this limitation 20 years ago, by using a different email account AND a different password for every website. The cost of a domain registration with email forwarding is modest compared to the insecurity of badly coded apps for multiple platforms that require frequent updating.

  4. David

    Would be nice if you had looked at local syncing options that avoid cloud storage, like Msecure, stickypassword, and splashid

    • Hi David,

      That’s a great suggestion. The article was mainly aimed at the beginner new to Password Managers but there’s definitely scope to extend it for users who don’t mind the responsibility of local storage. When we revise the article we’ll be sure to include a section on that. Thanks for taking the time to leave useful feedback.

  5. Neil

    You completely failed to mention password safe, which is open source, free, offline to avoid server breaches and uses two fish with sha256 and 2048 iterations. Combined with a master password, you cannot hack this. So wondering whether it was omitted because there are no click throughs?

    • Hi Neil,

      The guide was mainly aimed at those new to Password Managers and so ‘cloud’ based storage is easiest to get to grips with. However, due to a few comments suggesting we add ‘offline’ solutions we’ll be adding these when the article is revised.

      In regard to your “no click throughs” comments, if you’re talking about payments for us should you sign up, there are none in this article.

  6. .

    To protect your accounts if the password manager is hacked… Manually salt your passwords by add a few characters, but don’t store this in the password manager. If the manager gets hacked, they will only get part of your password.

    • Christopher Seward

      This is an amazing idea. Thank you very much for suggesting it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest privacy news, expert VPN guides & TV unblocking how-to’s sent straight to your inbox.