A password manager is an increasingly popular tool that allows you to save all of your internet passwords in one, central vault. All of your saved passwords are protected by a strong, unique master password that you create yourself.
With many password managers, your master password is encrypted locally on your device, as opposed to the software’s cloud server. This means that only you will ever have access to it, making it difficult for hackers to get into your account. It also means you’ll have to remember it — or write it down somewhere safe — because there’s no way to recover it if you forget it.
Password managers undoubtedly make online life a lot easier. Most password managers have an auto-fill feature that will automatically fill in the login prompts for all of your saved usernames and passwords. The obvious benefit of using a master password is that you don’t have to remember any of your other many passwords ever again.
Not only does this make life easier, but it also makes it easier to practice smarter internet security. Many of us use the same password, or some variation of it, for multiple accounts. But if even one of those accounts is subject to a security breach, any other account with the same credentials becomes vulnerable. Most password managers also have password generators that will create strong, complex, and unique passwords for you, so you can have the strongest possible passwords without the hassle of remembering them all — and they can all be different.
At this point, there’s really no reason for anyone not to have a password manager. We’ve reviewed some of the best password managers on the market — check out all of our reviews here — and found plenty of great options with many different features. Here are our top picks for a number of different categories, so you can decide which is best for you.
- Overall Easiest to Use: Dashlane and Enpass
- Best Security: Dashlane and Keeper
- Most Extreme Security: LogMeOnce
- Best For Businesses: Keeper
- Best For Families: LastPass
- Best For Techies: KeePass
- Best For Travelers: 1Password
- Best Mobile App: LastPass
- Best For Mac: Dashlane
- Best For PC: Dashlane
Easiest To Use
If you’re looking for a simple, easy to use password manager, Dashlane is a great option. Its interface is clean and intuitive, and its tile-like layout makes it easy to organize your data and find entries quickly. When you hover over a tile, a little ellipsis pops up. Click on it, and it gives you several options to edit, copy, view history, or even go directly to the website.
Enpass is less popular than Dashlane, but it stacks up well. Its interface is extremely intuitive, easy to navigate, and allows you to easily compartmentalize data into different categories.
LastPass, Dashlane’s main competitor, is a close runner-up, with a similar tile-like layout and overall intuitive interface. However, you do need to be connected to the internet to use it.
To get the most out of a password manager, you definitely want one with comprehensive security features. You definitely want a manager that offers some sort of “security test” feature, which tests the strength of all your saved passwords by identifying old, used, duplicate, weak, or compromised passwords. Dashlane assesses all of your passwords for this information, and assigns each password a percentage score. If the score is below 100 percent, there is an “action” button right next to it, which allows you to change the password. Dashlane offers this feature right in the application, unlike other password managers that require a separate window to run the test. Dashlane also comes with built in two-factor authentication, which automatically requires you to enter a code when you try to access Dashlane from another device.
Keeper has a similar “Security Audit” feature within the application, which gives each of your saved records a security score. It assigns each login a percentage score, as well as a tally of passwords that require an update. If your password is weak, it will mark that record in red, and include it in the “require update” section. There is also a section that includes any reused passwords. Keeper’s security audit feature doesn’t break down weak passwords into used, old, weak, compromised, or duplicate categories. But it does streamline the process by simply telling you whether or not you need to update your password, so some users may appreciate that simplicity.
Keeper also gives you the option to use a physical security key — such as a USB drive — as a form of two-factor authentication. There is also an advanced multi-authentication option called Keeper DNA, which pairs with an Apple Watch for a more sophisticated level of authentication.
Most Extreme Security
If you’re looking for the most extreme possible security, you might consider LogMeOnce, which gives you the option of using photo identification instead of a master password to gain access to your passwords. LogMeOnce will snap a photo of you on your computer and send it to your mobile device. From there, you will be able to confirm your identity and access your passwords on your computer. This option gives you two-factor authentication by default, since you have to access another device in order to login.
If someone else tries to login to your account, it will take a photo of the hacker and show the date, time, and geolocation of the hack, as well as the IP address of the hacker in a comprehensive report. This feature is called “mug shot.” These are some pretty extreme, perhaps exhaustive security measures, but LogMeOnce is a top option if you’re someone who wants to exercise extreme caution.
Best For Businesses
Many password managers offer a business-specific version that allow companies to securely share passwords and other sensitive information among employees. Keeper offers a comprehensive business version that allows account managers to oversee which users have access to certain passwords, as well as the privileges they have over them, like editing and sharing. Managers can also monitor the password behaviors of their employees, as Keeper provides a detailed security audit score that shows strength of its users’ passwords, as well as how many people are utilizing two-factor authentication. There is also an advanced feature called Keeper SSO Connect, which uses Keeper’s zero-knowledge security architecture to authenticate new users into the Keeper vault.
Honorable mention: Dashlane Business is also a great option for companies. It offers a unique feature called Smart Spaces, which allows employees to separate their personal information from shared company information. This allows the admin to regulate shared data without compromising personal data, ensuring the safety of employee personal information.
Best For Families
If you want a password manager that allows you to share important information with the whole family, you’ll probably want one that has a family-specific version. LastPass Families is probably your best option, as it allows you to create one central family “vault.” Each family member has access to the vault using their personal email, but one designated “family manager” decides which member can view certain folders and information. For example, you can allow your kids to view the Netflix password, but deny them access to your credit card information.
Best For Programmers
Do you like to write code? You might want to check out KeePass. KeePass is an open source application, meaning that its source code is available to be modified and tested by the user. If you write code, you could potentially modify the software to tailor it to your specific needs. Plus, since anyone can make modifications, problems with the software can be identified more frequently and fixed more quickly, allowing the program to run more smoothly and with more consistency.
Best For Travelers
If you’re a frequent international traveler and have a lot of sensitive information on your computer, consider using 1Password. 1Password has a feature called “travel mode” that allows you to tactically choose which passwords or documents you want to be hidden on your computer. This feature provides maximum security if you are traveling between countries and you are ever required to show your computer to customs officials or government agents. Essentially, it completely erases all sensitive data from your devices.
Best Mobile App
Both the LastPass iOS and Android interface are sleek and easy to use, making it our pick for both popular smartphone operating systems. It conveniently compartmentalizes your saved data, and offers a graphic of the logo for common websites and applications, making it easy to find specific logins quickly. And you still get features like auto-fill and a password generator.
Best For Mac
Dashlane‘s desktop application works seamlessly for Macs, and is even accessible offline, allowing you to both use the application without internet and store your data locally on your computer, as opposed to storing it on a cloud server.
Best For PCs
All of the above password managers listed offer solid versions for both Mac and PC. However, Windows users are typically more vulnerable to hacks. For this reason, if you use Windows, you might want to use Dashlane because it has a feature that will automatically change all of your passwords at once after a certain number of days. This is a helpful feature for anyone, regardless of what platform you’re using, but it may be even more beneficial for Windows users.
Looking at all of our reviews and categories, we’d say that for most users, Dashlane is probably the best password manager. That being said, there are so many worthy password managers out there which excel in different areas, and the competition is fierce, so other password managers may better fit your needs.