password managers

We all have multiple online accounts that require us to create user accounts with a login and password. The days of reminding you not to use your pet’s five-letter name on all of your accounts should be long gone, and hopefully you’re at least making an effort to keep your passwords strong.

However, the days when we only had a handful of logins to remember are long gone as well. With so many different passwords to remember, it’s simply not possible to create and remember passwords for all those accounts that are both unique and strong.

You need a Password Manager.

Password managers are software tools that store all your passwords securely in an encrypted database. And, while I never would have thought this needed saying, recent events have proved otherwise: your Password Manager should encrypt everything you store, not just the passwords. (Looking at YOU, LastPass!)

Password Managers use one master password to access your password vault, and most can generate strong, random passwords for all your accounts. This way, you only have to remember one password, and you can have confidence that your other passwords are strong and secure.

So what goes into picking the right password manager? Well, there are a number of factors, but what you need to figure out is which one of these things is going to work with you the best. Your Password Manager needs to be more than just good at storing and generating passwords. It needs to be great at getting you to use it. Any service or system that isn’t intuitive to you, doesn’t have the right setup, layout, toolset, or cross-platform functionality for you needs to be dismissed in favor of one that does. Online ratings and recommendations can be a nice place to start, but don’t forget that many of those sites put LastPass at the top of their lists (in fact, many still have them there), and look what happened.

Pick the one that not only works well for you, but that makes you want to use it.

Picking the Best Password Manager for You

Cross-Platform Availability and Performance

These days, most Password Managers do pretty well when it comes to what platforms they work on. The top-tier will work on them all, desktop and mobile. But the best password manager for you won’t just work on the platforms you use, it will work well. What works for you will depend on both the platforms you use and your personal tolerance for different quirks and inconveniences.

Password Generator

To make this list, and really to even be considered an option for most people overall, a Password Manager needs to have a password generator. How robust are its options, and do you know what they are? Can you easily generate passphrases that use different separators, to comply with various password requirements that exist out there.

Make sure that you are comfortable with the options your Password Manager provides, and that you know how to use them. One big thing that I’ve also found is that not a lot of Password Managers seem to be particularly effective at recommending a password for a new login without creating the login first. This is a particular problem on MacOS, where the built-in Keychain constantly recommends “secure” passwords, even if you have a Password Manager extension installed.

Security Protocols

Another area that’s more prominent since December. The best password managers all follow the same industry-standard security protocols (or so we thought), usually including 256-bit AES encryption (transmission and storage), end-to-end encryption, and “zero-knowledge” technology (you’re the only one who knows your master password).

Basically, all data is encrypted and decrypted locally, by your master password, which only you know.

What is less uniform is any advanced login options. You’ll also want to make sure your password manager protects logins via some form of multi-factor authentication, and you’ll want to know what forms of biometric authentication is supported. It’s also important that your Password Manager is up-to-date and providing software patches and updates frequently (particularly around OS updates), and allows third-party audits.

Where Is Your Vault Stored?

This one is a bigger issue since December, for obvious reasons. The best password managers store your passwords either locally (on your device) or in the cloud (on their servers). Cloud-based storage is usually the best, most secure option. It’s more secure than anything you could set up, it’s usually backed up in the event something happens to your device, and it’s generally necessary if you want to sync your passwords across multiple platforms.

Additional Storage

Password generators now frequently store other types of information in addition to passwords, including financial info (bank accounts, credit cards), shipping addresses, IDs and various other forms and documents. Bear in mind, though, that this comes at a “cost;” what you save you have to store – so available storage space will be an issue. One differentiator is the ability to store and share passwords, secure notes, and other information directly from your Password Manager.

Forget Your Master Password?

Your master password should not be recoverable by your Password Manager if you forget it. Otherwise, you’re not the only one with access to your account. But some services offer some other recovery options in the event you forget your master password.

You absolutely need to know which of those options is available to you when you settle on a service. Options range from SMS and biometric authentication to a designated emergency contact. Make sure to set up your recovery options immediately, and make sure you’re actually able to use that option.

Additional Features

Paid and/or Premium plans usually include additional specialized features. From extra security options, such as running your passwords through lists of breached passwords and breach/dark web monitoring. It can also audit your passwords for compromised, reused, and weak passwords, and directs you to change those passwords. Some also notify you when multi-factor authentication is available for the accounts you use.

Free Options/Trial Periods/Family Plans

While many Password Managers have a free tier, several have decided to do away with a free option. Others have such significant limits on their free plan that they’re simply not usable in a world where most people need to track 100s of passwords or wants to use the Password Manager across different platforms and devices.

More critical to finding the right Password Manager for you is what trial period each system offers. Many password managers offer free trials of their paid or premium services, just make sure that you keep track of when it ends – you don’t want to end up locked out of a service you haven’t finished using.

Family plans allow for often five or six users and usually cost just a dollar or two more (per month) than an individual plan. All family members get individual secure password vaults (often with extended sharing options). Family members can’t access each other’s passwords unless it’s explicitly shared.

So, what are the best password managers on the market today?

password managers 1password


# of Devices: Unlimited
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS
Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave
Biometric Login: Face ID, Pixel Face Unlock, Touch ID (MacOS & iOS), Windows Hello, most Android and Linux fingerprint readers
MFA: Yes
Free Option: None
Trial Period: 14 days


  • Individual Plan – $36/year
  • Family Plan – $72/year (up to 5 users)

Now that 1Password’s windows offering matches its macOS counterpart, 1Password can be considered among the top two or three best password managers currently on the market.

Along with all the standard features you expect to find on a high-end password manager, which rival the other top offerings in the field, 1Password has excellent standalone extensions for all of the main desktop browsers, which now support biometric login. 1Password’s secure data sharing service, called Psst!, lets users send a temporary link to anyone to share information that has been saved in one password, without that recipient needing to be a 1Password subscriber.

One of the most intriguing features of 1Password is what’s called its travel mode. This mode deletes sensitive data from your devices, that you will get back later, so that snooping border control agents can’t find it when they inspect your phone. Oh, if you were relying on your fourth amendment rights and your general right of privacy to tell a border control agent that they can’t look in your phone, the Supreme Court would like to remind you that search and seizure protections don’t exist within 50 miles of the US border.

All in, 1Password is our favorite offering in this space.

password managers bit warden


# of Devices: Unlimited
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android
Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, Tor
Biometric Login: Face ID, Pixel Face Unlock, Touch ID (MacOS & iOS), Windows Hello, fingerprint and face unlock on Android
MFA: Yes
Free Option: Limited file sharing; limited MFA
Trial Period: None


  • Premium – $10/year
  • Families – $40/year (up to 6 users)

Bitwarden is an open-source password manager that offers a range of features at a fraction of the cost of other password managers. It includes a password generator, two-factor authentication, and the ability to store notes and credit card information.

One of the newer entrants into the field of password managers, Bitwarden has rocket to the tops of most password manager rankings due to its low cost, excellent design, and pretty feature rich free tier.

For the true security nerds among us, but warden offers optional self-hosting, which allows you to post your entire password manager locally, relying on your own security for protection.

Overall, Bitwarden provides essentially everything you would expect in a top-tier password manager, doing none of the things spectacularly well, but doing none of the things poorly. Given its price well below other competitors in this area, that is certainly a reason to give it a try.

Oh, and there’s also the fact that it’s an open-source system, which can be good or bad depending on the news in the past week.

password managers dash lane


# of Devices: Unlimited
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS
Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave
Biometric Login: Face ID, Pixel Face Unlock, Touch ID (MacOS & iOS), some Android and Windows fingerprint readers
MFA: Yes
Free Option: 1 device; 50 passwords
Trial Period: None


  • Advanced – $33/year
  • Premium – $60/year (includes built-in VPN service)
  • Friends & Family – $90/year (up to 10 users)

As a password manager, Dashlane is well designed, and easy to use. Its features for filling out your personal information and online forms, and the scanning through your email inbox to identify accounts that you may have forgotten about, can be incredibly valuable to people who don’t have a ton of time to input all their passwords into a new password manager.

Additional features include having a dark web scan, performed through a license from SpyCloud, which checks your email address on the dark web, and free VPN through the Hotspot Shield VPN service are both high-quality. Unfortunately, unlike the Bitdefender password manager, in order to get Hotspot Shield VPN requires the highest-level individual subscription.

Overall, Dashlane is a very capable and feature-rich password manager, with capabilities that extend far beyond simply stronger passwords. However, it is among the pricier options on the market, and lacks some of the refinement of higher end password managers, particularly around automatic form filling.

password manager nordpass


# of Devices: 6 logged-in devices
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS (web vault only)
Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Brave, Opera
Biometric Login: Face ID, Pixel Face Unlock, Touch ID (MacOS & iOS), Windows Hello, most Android and Linux fingerprint readers
MFA: Yes
Free Option: 1 device (but can log out and log into different device); reduced features
Trial Period: 30 days


From the makers of the outstanding Nord VPN, Nord Pass is a fully featured password manager with a simple, consistent design that is easy to navigate. Like the other entrants on this list, Nord Pass does all the things that you would expect a top-tier password manager to do, and largely does them well.

Among its best features is the ease with which you can share passwords safely and securely, and the cutting-edge security that comes with using any technology from the Nord security suite.

The biggest drawback for Nord Pass appears to be the price, which at its basic level can be about double comparable platforms. Fortunately, they frequently run deals, including the ones reflected in the pricing above, to drop their prices by over 50%. In the event you’re interested in Nord pass, make sure you take a vantage of one of those sales.

password managers keeper


# of Devices: Unlimited
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS
Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Edge, Opera
Biometric Login: Face ID, Pixel Face Unlock, Touch ID (MacOS & iOS), Windows Hello, most Android fingerprint readers
MFA: Yes
Free Option: None
Trial Period: 30 days


  • Personal – $35/year
  • Family – $75/year (up to 5 users)

Keeper is a password manager that focuses on speed and security. While its UI is not flashy, it offers a consistent, easy to use interface across all platforms. Keeper’s security audit system, which helps you to identify both weak and reused passwords, assigns a password strength to each one of your passwords and provides a percentage-based score for three different categories of your passwords.

Although Keeper no longer recommends that you change passwords that haven’t been changed over a long period of time, the Breach Watch feature flags any passwords that may been compromised in a data breach This feature apparently goes beyond a basic “Have I Been Pwned?” search that manages to maintain their “zero knowledge” commitment.

Combined with excellent cross-platform operation and easy to use account import tools, Keeper also provides one of the best tools for sharing information with other users called One-Time Share. This tool allows users to send links to be used on one device and automatically expire, even if they’re not used.

Overall, Keeper is an excellent password manager, especially for users who are security and privacy conscious.

password managers roboform

RoboForm Everywhere

# of Devices: Unlimited
Platforms: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS
Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Edge, Opera
Biometric Login: Face ID, Pixel Face Unlock, Touch ID (MacOS & iOS), Windows Hello, Pixel Face Unlock, most Android fingerprint readers
MFA: Yes
Free Option: 1 device; no MFA, no cloud backup, no emergency access
Trial Period: None


RoboForm cut its teeth in the password management space long before most of the other platforms on this list had even been created. Having been around since 1999, RoboForm had until recently been a bit of a relic before overhauling most of its systems to get up to par with the other platforms on this list.

Offering similar features to other high-end managers, such as password sharing, multi factor authentication, a high-end password generator, and notification of exposure in data breaches, RoboForm certainly meets all the criteria for being a reliable, effective password manager.

Where RoboForm really stands out, where it has always stood out, is its excellent form filling features. Combined with its relatively low price point, RoboForm is a safe and easy to use password manager that has earned its spot on this list by reinventing itself after it had grown stale in a rapidly changing industry.

In Conclusion

No matter which password manager you choose, it’s important to remember that the security of your online accounts is only as strong as the weakest link – the choices you make. By using a password manager to create strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, you can help protect your sensitive information from cybercriminals and remove yourself (and the risks you bring) from the equation… mostly.

A password manager is a must-have tool for anyone who wants to keep their online accounts secure. By using a password manager to create strong, unique passwords, you can ensure that your sensitive information is protected, and you can easily access all of your accounts with just one master password.

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