Bitwarden Reviews 2020

3.0
DECENT
Ranked 33rd from 49 password managers
Ranked 33rd from 49 password managers
Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Published on: 01/08/2020

Detailed Expert Review

What We Liked

  • Open source software – great for Linux users!
  • Local encryption
  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Easy to use interface

What We Didn’t Like

  • Data is stored in 14 Eyes surveillance location

BitWarden is an open-source password manager with a really quickly-growing user base. The interface is nice, clean and straightforward, and as an added bonus, is full of features, even on the free version. These features include a password generator, cloud storage for all passwords and syncing across numerous devices (and that’s more than Enpass will give you). BitWarden is pretty versatile like that, and will sync multiple device passwords via a web app, smartphone apps and its numerous browser extensions.

I’ve reviewed almost 70 password managers, so here’s my BitWarden review.

BitWarden Plans and Pricing

As a software that has developed over time, BitWarden used to be completely free. Nowadays, it has two separate pricing plans.

BitWarden is currently in active development, and other paid features may be released in the future.

The premium version is a yearly subscription model, which is pretty low-priced for the market – which makes sense, because it offers fewer features.

One thing to note though – although it’s low-priced, it also has no refund option.

There are two options for personal, individual users, and two options for Business users, which is a nice touch.

BitWarden Plans and Pricing

I’d say that the Families or Teams plan is probably enough for, well, families and individuals, unless you really, really care about two-factor authentication – for which you’d need to upgrade to the Enterprise plan, but you’d need at least 5 users for that.

I think the 1GB of encrypted file storage (on the Family plan) would be worth upgrading for, but – as I’ve circled on the screenshot above – the Family and teams plans are pretty similar…unless you need more than 5 users and priority tech support.

There’s also a 7-day free trial of plans, which should be more than enough time to see if it’s worth it for you or your organization.

Otherwise, I’d say that the Teams option is a good, simple option for small businesses, but nothing larger than that. When you come to think of the business heavy focus of, say, Myki, or even Zoho Vault, BitWarden seems a bit underdeveloped in comparison.

In this completely honest BitWarden review, I have to admit that the reporting and tracking is not strong enough, and IT professionals will find the customization options within BitWarden not nearly enough for their needs.  Also, the amount of encrypted storage provided (1 GB) is not going to be enough for most large teams. BitWarden does include a few options aimed at the more tech-savvy crowd with both the ability to use a command prompt for input and the ability to self-host the data instead of storing your database in the cloud.

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BitWarden Features

BitWarden is a basic, but effective, password manager. This is one for users who like things to be straightforward and hassle-free – in life, and in password management.

Yes, it may have fewer features than some of its larger competitors (it’s not flashy like LastPass, or cute like RememBear), but it does what it needs to do. For example, if you’re looking for password sharing – I couldn’t find any way to share my passwords – you’re better off with something like LastPass instead, which has a fantastic sharing feature.

Actually, since it’s open source, it’s continually being improved on and updated. New features are being added all the time. One update allowed users to store more than just passwords – now, as a result, you can also store credit cards, secure notes and identity info.

Having said that, I think BitWarden is mostly for straightforward password storage and login protection, with a few extra features – which is never a bad thing to admit (especially not in a totally honest BitWarden review like this).

BitWarden has desktop app versions (and a lot of them), browser extensions and also Android and iOS apps. This is a techy software, for techy people (such as Linux users), so that’s to be expected. I’ll get into these different apps a bit later in this BitWarden review, but for now, know that they’re available, and I’ll be discussing them.

Another important thing to note is that each version has slightly different user interfaces –

BitWarden Features

Which was a little tricky, for reasons I’ll get into shortly.

Password Importing

Password managers have one main job – looking after your passwords. Some password managers do a better job than others when it comes to actually getting those passwords into their systems – and BitWarden is one of them.

I couldn’t find out how to import passwords – which some password managers (LastPass) guide you through as a part of the installation process. BitWarden, as I found out, doesn’t.

After a bit of searching around, I finally found the option of importing passwords in the browser extension. I was redirected to a help document on the BitWarden site, and saw this –

BitWarden Features

I think this is the most options for password importing that I have ever seen – and I‘ve seen a LOT of password managers!

I’m also happy to report that the importing took nothing more than a painless CSV import, and a dragged/dropped file – et voila, all my passwords appeared.

Here is where what I mentioned above, about the different user interfaces comes in – I spent a good ten minutes trying to find the option to import my passwords on the web app. It turned out, I should have been doing this on the web vault, which was the only place where I could actually import. Small difference, but a lot of time wasted.

While I would have really liked to have seen a nice auto-import from browser extension (like LastPass and Dashlane both have), I’ll still take what I can get – I know BitWarden is much more designed for techies.

Password Generator

As for the question “Is BitWarden safe?” BitWarden offers a good password generation tool. The tool allows users to set parameters for their preferred password and generate passwords from the ruleset. Users can do this as either a completely random sequence of numbers and letters, or they can choose to use a sequence of several words.

BitWarden Features

This generator is also available in the smartphone app and in the browser extensions.

Business Use Reporting

One thing I noticed just in passing, is that for BitWarden business users, there’s a nice function to generate reports. It turns out these are available only via the website (you need to upgrade to a business account and then receive a login), and not in the apps or extensions.

The reporting looks pretty good, if that’s what you need, with details of weak and reused passwords used by anyone within your organization. The administrator can also get a report of logins being used on unsecured websites, and even inactive two-factor logins.

It’s pretty impressive – and actually impressed me more than any reports Zoho Vault ever generated – I’d say BitWarden’s reporting is on the same level of Myki’s pretty impressive reporting.

Browser Extensions

BitWarden has an extension for all the major browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari and Firefox (see below for the full list of all BitWarden download options, under the “Ease of Use” section in this BitWarden review).

I was amazed to see that BitWarden also has an option for even more high-level or technical browsers, including Tor and Brave! This really is the password manager for the technically-savvy.

The browser extension does pretty much what the desktop app does, and even looks pretty similar too –

BitWarden Features

And there are some pretty nice in-browser features too – if you hover over the icons in the red box, you’ll be able to View Data; Copy Username and Copy Password –

BitWarden Features

It’s all very nice and clean! I think it’s very easy to use, and even the least-savvy BitWarden user will be able to figure it out easily enough.

Web App

The web app (which is my go-to for any password manager review) was functional, easy to use and did the job.

However, I did notice that after my CSV import, there were a few logins where BitWarden hadn’t imported all of my data –

BitWarden Features

Otherwise, I was pretty happy – clicking on each of the logins gives you the item’s information (on the right of the screenshot). The menu is also really intuitive.

One thing that also bugged me was the lack of automatic categorization – you can clearly see that BitWarden supports login info, card and financial information, identity-related info and Secure notes – and I had a range of this data imported. While Dashlane and even RoboForm nicely categorized these for me on import, BitWarden didn’t. I clicked on ‘card’, for example, expecting to see a saved credit card, and got nothing.

It turned out that I had to add credit card and financial information, and anything other than a login manually. So that’s a bit less great, but actually, everything else was pretty good, so I was happy overall.

Otherwise, while researching this BitWarden review, I also noticed that BitWarden’s auto capturing of passwords was pretty good – I’d see a little notification each time it captured something, but otherwise, it just did its job in the background. That’s my kind of password manager!

Mobile App

The mobile app looks and functions in the same way as the web app and browser extension. You’ll need your master password to log into your account, and once you’re in, all s pretty much the same as on the desktop.

You’ll see your vault, the password generator, the tools and the settings on the ap. And that’s it. Nice, straightforward – simple!

Unfortunately, BitWarden’s security policy wouldn’t let me take screenshots, which is actually a nice little security feature if you think about it. But having said that, I also locked my smartphone screen for ten minutes, and then reopened it, and the BitWarden app didn’t even ask me for my master password again. I’m sure this setting can be changed somewhere in the app, so it will request your master password on device locking and reopening, but I couldn’t see where.

The mobile app synced nicely with my browser extension and the web app, showing me all of my saved data, right after I downloaded and logged in. All in all, a very nicely functioning app, not say, like the disaster I experienced with Zoho Vault’s non-syncing mobile app, which also looked completely unrelated to its web app.

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BitWarden Ease of Use and Setup

BitWarden is so easy to get up and running, and even better – has a ton of options for you to choose from when it comes to installing and using it –

BitWarden Ease of Use and Setup

I decided to go for the Windows installation and the Chrome browser extension.

I downloaded the software, and followed the installation instructions…which led me to the screen asking me to setup my master password.

BitWarden Ease of Use and Setup

I like that it gave me feedback on my (actually very) weak password…but it let me set it up as my master password, despite telling me how weak it was. I know I’m comparing two very different password managers, but LastPass refused to let me continue with a weak master password.

Otherwise the dashboard looked really good – as clear as Dashlane itself – and actually better than quite a few other password managers out there Zoho Vault’s dashboard was an utter mess}:

BitWarden Ease of Use and Setup

So far, so good. The dashboard – on the web app, browser extension and the mobile app was really self-explanatory and easy to use.

BitWarden Security

Two-factor Authentication (2FA)

I was a bit surprised that BitWarden didn’t prompt me to install any two-factor authentication – for a password manager built by technically-savvy people, I would have assumed security was kind of their thing.

While BitWarden security includes some two-factor authentication, it’s actually the one feature that can only be setup on the website, and the website only, and it is slightly buried in the options.

You should also know that the free version only offers BitWarden security via email and 3rd party authentication, while the paid membership expands the options to Yubico, Fido and Duo.

BitWarden Security

If that’s a deal breaker for you, then you really should upgrade to the premium version – because personally, I never take security (and definitely not online security) too lightly. Otherwise, you’ll have to make do with BitWarden security consisting of your master password and your emergency recovery phrase (if you’ve set one up) – or if you do forget your login details, your data will be wiped.

Is BitWarden safe? I would still say yes.

Visit Bitwarden

BitWarden Customer Support

I should be honest here – BitWarden is not in the same league as other password managers when it comes to customer support, but it still provides some options to get in touch.

The only real option you have to get support is via email. You’ll also see some social media links available, but I didn’t find them very responsive. I saw they had a nice, responsive Twitter page, but that their answers there were short and mostly tell people to visit their help pages on the site.

I was a bit disappointed that there were no live chat or phone numbers for support. But, at least there was an active user-to-user help forum.  I actually found the forum pretty useful, with a lot of answers to common questions.

Still, if it’s a direct response from BitWarden you want, then email is your best option.

BitWarden Customer Support

I emailed BitWarden through the website, and amazingly, I received a response in under 24 hours. I was even more impressed that the response I got was definitely from a human and was not automated.

It was easy to read and understand, and even asked me a follow-up question! While I was a bit annoyed that there wasn’t a live chat, I guess this is the next best thing – actually, even LastPass could learn a thing or two about customer support from BitWarden.

Bitwarden Products & Pricing

Bottom Line

I didn’t expect to, but I actually fell a bit in love with BitWarden. It’s a really easy, straightforward choice for individual users, families and small organizations.

It’s super easy to get up and running with, import your passwords and also automatically captured my passwords as I browsed various sites. The browser extensions and mobile phone apps do a great job offering the same options the web app does, which is never something to take for granted.

I was a little bit underwhelmed by the (lack of) extra security, like 2FA, and the lack of password sharing (it’s a feature that’s still being developed for individual users), but all in all, this i a nice little password manager.

That and, the pricing for the premium plan is really competitive for the password manager market, and you might even find you can get by with the free version.

BitWarden isn’t for you if you’re looking for something highly technical and with loads of extra features – for that, you’re best off looking at LastPass or even 1Password. There are no custom templates, automatic categorization or anything beyond the basic.

But, it’s well-made, easy to use, and will continue to be advanced and developed over time.

About the Author

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity researcher and tech journalist

About the Author

Sophie Anderson has spent the last 10 years working as a software engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. She now works as a cybersecurity consultant and tech journalist, helping everyday netizens understand how to stay safe and protected in an online world.

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Bitwarden User Reviews

16 4
Based on 20 reviews in 5 languages 4
Language
You can trust the Community! Companies can't ask us to delete or change user reviews.
H4ck3r
H4ck3r
Brazil
4.5
A great password manager
Linux User
I agree with many things that the expert of this site has written and also disagree with many.
If there are many password managers it is because each one has a different profile and different user goals, but with the same goal that is to keep passwords safely.
For me it is great. The missing half star (half score) is because the information is stored in a country that has Global Mass Surveillance (The Fourteen Eyes) and Key Disclosure Law. I know the system has zero-knowledge encryption, but it could host the server in countries in Europe that have strict privacy laws.
H4ck3r
H4ck3r
Brazil
4.5
A great password manager
Linux User
I agree with many things that the expert of this site has written and also disagree with many.
If there are many password managers it is because each one has a different profile and different user goals, but with the same goal that is to keep passwords safely.
For me it is great. The missing half star (half score) is because the information is stored in a country that has Global Mass Surveillance (The Five Eyes) and Key Disclosure Law. I know the system has zero-knowledge encryption, but it could host the server in countries in Europe that have strict privacy laws.
Kuty
Kuty
Czech Republic
5.0
Open-source, secure, can be self-hosted and is audited
Linux User
Being open-source and regularly audited, this is one of the most secure ones and I don't agree with the score at all. All the encryption is done locally and only the data owner (with master password) can get access to it. That's why Keeper is far less secure as it allows to recover master password by responding secure questions (so they must be another master key, protected by secure questions, potentially saved as clear bytes somewhere). Bitwarden also supports organizations, is cheaper than LastPass and there are nice browsers extensions, made with security in mind (e.g. not filling in by default, requiring an user action). No reason to use any other pasword manager.
Singapore
5.0
Open sourced secure and affordable
iOS User
Perfect to secure the chrome and google passwords. Works nicely once you get past the initial setup required on the browser or iphone/android. Syncs on all my devices. Password generator is a real bonus.
Liz H.
Liz H.
United States
0.5
App and customer service both entirely fell apart after a year
Windows User
Had zero problems with Bitwarden until one day it wouldn't recognize my PW any longer. Customer service was entirely useless, continuing to "send" me PW hints that I didn't need (never changed my PW) and that I ever received in my email. So there is absolutely no backup for your data... if the app. shuts down on you, you're out of luck. Find another app!
user avatar
Ve Liz H.
May 27, 2020
Mind telling me how it happened??
user avatar
Damion Liz H.
Same thing happened to me twice in 2 years on premium Bitwarden
Larry McJunkin
Larry McJunkin
United States
4.5
Much better than this site's review
Mac User
There are many sites similar to safetydetectives.com that purport to be experts on apps like password managers, VPNs, etc. The problem I've found with ALL of them is they exist solely for their collusive efforts to seemingly review apps but then recommend ONLY the ones with which they have affiliate marketing relationships.

I get that they're trying to make money and I'm not begrudging them that. But for the most part, I've found their reviews and comparisons a little like reviewing a Mercedes, a Bentley, a Porsche, and a Mazda...then telling everyone the Mazda is by far the best automobile, only because they make 10% on the sale of every Mazda that starts out on their site. Call it what you want...it's collusion.

That said, I'm a ret...Show More
Dylan
Dylan
South Africa
5.0
Great
Windows User
Again a terribly biased review (as usual for this site). This site appears to only give good reviews to the ones they are associated with. Bitwarden is open source, what more could you want as an assurance for your data security? Yes Bitwarden may lack in the feature department, but would you rather have great security and less features or visa versa? In every review I've read on this site, you compare the reviewed password manager to Dashlane and LastPass, being closed source there will be so many severe security issues yet to be found. Bitwarden is open source, so any one can view the code and report issues. With Bitwarden, you can even host your data on your own server if you`re worried about security.
nats
nats
Canada
2.5
poor support
Linux User
Support replied in less than 24 hours but their reply was nonsense. They suggested that after logging in successfully about 20 times I forgot my email address. Then 2 hours later I suddenly remembered it. The reply looked like a templated reply. I doubt they even read my question. The good news is that I have installed another password vault and have not forgotten my email address !
ELWoodridge
ELWoodridge
United States
1.0
this article is poorly written!
Windows User
this article is riddled with grammar issues and typos.... its hard to read. Makes the content difficult to trust. Also, its written in a relatively casual style which doesnt make the writer seem very mature.
user avatar
Rob_L ELWoodridge
May 12, 2020
Get a life.
user avatar
rob ELWoodridge
I agree 100% with this comment. I have grown weary of foreign, inexperienced writers attempting to write reviews in English. The sentences are often poorly composed and nonsensical. Sorry, but I don't trust the review. Hire a ...Show More
Roger
Roger
United States
4.0
Almost as full-featured as LastPass, but costs less...
Mac User
There is two-factor authentication (Duo security, email, and a couple of other options) in Bitwarden now. Password sharing via "Collections" is also implemented. So this review, as far as I can see, is not updated for 2020, since it's pretty far out of date. I switched from LastPass to BItwarden when LastPass was bought by a hedge fund at the end of last year, and found it to be fully functional.

The ONLY thing that I miss from LastPass is the emergency access feature of LastPass, where you can allow someone else access after the account owner is not heard from in a number of days. In lieu of that in Bitwarden, I set up a collection for my wife, and she has her own login credentials for her account, which includes the collection that I ...Show More

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