LastPass vs. Bitwarden: An Overview
Since its release in 2008, LastPass has continued to establish itself as a highly-respected market leader, and Bitwarden is an open-source password manager and newer to the market but is already making a huge impact.
They’re obviously two of the best password managers on the market, but which one is going to keep your passwords most secure?
Recently, many of our readers have been asking us this question:
- Does an open-source password manager offer more security?
Yes… and no.
While both LastPass and Bitwarden both do the same basic thing — save and manage your online passwords — there are huge differences between these two password managers. Before you send your most sensitive information to either product, you need to know you can trust it, and that it has the right features for you.
We’ve reviewed over 70 password managers and for this side-by-side comparison, we thoroughly tested LastPass and Bitwarden to see how they compare across multiple criteria, including security, features, and customer support.
If you would like to consider an additional password manager option, read our Dashlane review here.
Feature Overview Comparison
|LastPass Features Overview||Bitwarden Features Overview|
|Encryption Level||AES 256-bit||AES 256-bit|
|Multi-Device Sync||Yes – Paid||Yes – Free|
|Backup & Recovery||No||Yes – Cloud Version|
|Mobile Apps Available||Yes – Android, iOS & Windows||Yes – Android, iOS & Windows|
|Browser Extensions||Chrome, Firefox, Linux, Safari, Internet Explorer & Microsoft Edge||Chrome, Firefox, Linux, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave & Tor Browser|
|Languages Available||English||English (Plus crowdsourced translation)|
LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Basic Features
LastPass: Basic Features
LastPass has many great basic features:
- Secure password generator.
- Unlimited secure password storage.
- Auto-fill online forms.
- Supports unlimited devices.
These features are the core of the software and do a good job of performing the basic tasks of any password manager.
LastPass’s paid features aren’t as extensive as some competitors, but they still add value to the software.
Paid features include:
- 1 GB of secure storage on the LastPass cloud.
- Share passwords with unlimited users.
- Security Challenge — identifies weak passwords that should be changed.
Bitwarden: Basic Features
Bitwarden doesn’t have as many features as LastPass. However, Bitwarden is open-source. This means anyone can view the code and develop new features. So you can expect Bitwarden to keep adding cool new features as the community comes up with new ideas and develops them.
Bitwardent’s free features include:
- Password generator.
- Unlimited device sync.
- Unlimited password storage.
- Form auto-fill.
Bitwarden’s paid features include:
- 1 GB of encrypted storage.
- “Password Hygiene” and “Vault Health Reports” to check the strength of your security settings.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) lets you add an extra layer of security to your password manager. With MFA enabled, you can only log in if you have access to an additional trusted device. This could be your phone or a dedicated authenticator device.
The free versions of both LastPass and Bitwarden offer some basic MFA options. LastPass also has its own authenticator app, which is a pretty unique offering in itself.
LastPass Premium’s MFA options include YubiKey, Sesame, Duo, Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, and biometric identification. Few other password managers offer as many advanced MFA options as LastPass Premium.
Bitwarden Premium’s advanced multi-factor authentication options are more limited. It’s compatible with YubiKey, Fido U2F, and Duo.
LastPass’s browser extension recognizes when you visit a login screen and adds a small LastPass logo icon to the username and password fields. Just click the icon and LastPass will autofill your login credentials.
Bitwarden’s browser extension works well, but it is much less user-friendly. To log into a website, you need to search for your account details in the browser extension menu, copy the password to your clipboard, and then paste it into the password field.
It’s a bit of a hassle, but not a dealbreaker.
LastPass’s password generator is easily accessible from the LastPass browser extension. You can customize passwords according to their length and the types of characters they contain.
LastPass also lets you generate memorable passwords with categories like “easy to say” and “easy to read”.
Bitwarden’s password generator is also very advanced — and in addition to customizable passwords, it can generate passphrases of up to 20 words. Bitwarden also keeps a history of old passwords, which might help you prove your identity if you’re locked out of your account.
One important feature for Bitwarden is the ability for users to self-host their data. You can store your encrypted data on a server of your choosing rather than on the company’s servers. This means that a security breach on Bitwarden’s servers won’t compromise your data.
Warning — self-hosting requires significant technical expertise to set up. It’s only suitable if you have access to a highly secure private server.
LastPass has no self-hosting feature so users must trust that the company is handling their data appropriately.
LastPass allows you to designate a contact who can gain emergency access to your account after a pre-set waiting period. This can be a lifesaver if you’re locked out of your account or unable to provide access to important information.
Bitwarden has no emergency access option.
Winner: LastPassVisit LastPass
LastPass vs Bitwarden: Plans and Pricing
LastPass: Plans and Pricing
LastPass’s free plan includes password storage, password sharing, two-factor authentication, auto-capture, auto-fill, and Security Challenge. It also comes with a 30-day free trial of LastPass Premium.
In addition to LastPass Free and Premium, LastPass offers a Families plan (which provides multiple licenses and advanced group sharing options) and 4 separate plans for businesses.
Bitwarden: Plans and Pricing
Bitwarden’s free version offers multi-device syncing, unlimited item vault storage (includes passwords, secure notes, credit cards, and identities), multi-factor authentication, password generation, and self-hosting on a personal server.
Bitwarden Premium is great value, and includes 1 GB encrypted file storage, numerous two-step login features, password and vault health reports, priority customer support, and TOTP authenticator key usage (a high-security login method).
Bitwarden also offers Families, Teams, and Enterprise plans if you need accounts for multiple users.
Bitwarden has the edge here, offering more free features than LastPass.
Winner: BitwardenVisit Bitwarden
LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Ease of Use and Setup
LastPass: Ease of Use and Setup
LastPass is very straightforward to set up. The application takes you through a simple process to create your Master Password, and then leads you to an easy-to-use vault where you can add passwords and other items for secure storage.
It’s easy to import passwords from another password manager with LastPass, but you can’t import a large number of passwords at once. This is a huge problem if you have a lot of passwords to import.
LastPass’s features are typically easy to use.
For example, Secure Notes are neatly organized within folders. LastPass also has a streamlined and user-friendly mobile app with overlays to help you easily fill in login forms.
Overall, LastPass provides a simple, “plug and play” user experience.
Bitwarden: Ease of Use and Setup
Bitwarden is clearly made with tech-savvy people in mind. That said, even for tech professionals, it isn’t always obvious how to use key Bitwarden features.
This lack of user-friendliness is apparent in many areas of Bitwarden. For example, in the Secure Notes feature, all notes are displayed on the same window without folders, making it much more difficult to keep things organized.
Also, to import passwords from another password manager, you first need to export your passwords into a file format that Bitwarden recognizes (such as CSV or JSON). Then you can upload this file to Bitwarden to import your passwords.
Bitwarden’s mobile app is also quite difficult to use. It doesn’t integrate with other apps, so it won’t fill in your login details automatically. Instead, whenever you need a password, you need to load the Bitwarden app and copy it to your clipboard.
All in all, Bitwarden is clearly best for advanced users.
Winner: LastPassVisit LastPass
LastPass vs Bitwarden: Security
LastPass uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption.
In many ways, LastPass is more secure than Bitwarden for the average user.
- It offers more options for multi-factor authentication.
- It forces you to create a strong master password.
- It helps you choose the most high-security options, for example by suggesting you use multi-factor authentication.
Unfortunately, LastPass loses points here for past security vulnerabilities. However, the company has always responded quickly, and has never lost anyone’s passwords.
Without the ability to self-host your data, you’ll be relying on LastPass to store your passwords securely. But for the average person, this is the safest method.
Bitwarden also uses military-grade AES 256-bit encryption.
Bitwarden lets you use a weak Master Password and doesn’t actively prompt you to enable advanced security features. This is fine for advanced users, but beginner users will benefit from software that tells them what to do to increase their security.
Bitwarden’s self-hosting option is a big plus for advanced users. If you have access to high-security storage, this gives you the ultimate control over your data.
However, you shouldn’t self-host your data unless you really know what you’re doing. Most users will be better off using Bitwarden in the normal (not self-hosted) way.
And while Bitwarden has the potential for maximum security, most users will be better off with something simpler like LastPass.
Winner: LastPassVisit LastPass
LastPass vs. Bitwarden: Customer Support
LastPass: Customer Support
LastPass offers support via:
- FAQs (I found these to be quite limited).
- Support forum.
- Email (I waited 3 days for a response).
This is the minimum you should expect from a password manager.
Bitwarden: Customer Support
Similar to LastPass, Bitwarden offers support via:
- Extensive FAQs.
- Support forum.
- Email (I received a response within 24 hours).
Bitwarden’s support beats LastPass’s support. But Bitwarden still lacks phone support or live chat, which is disappointing.
Winner: BitwardenVisit Bitwarden
The Bottom Line on LastPass vs. Bitwarden
Bitwarden’s self-hosting feature means it can be an extremely secure password manager. If you’re technically-minded, you might also appreciate the fact that Bitwarden is open-source. But unless you’re seriously confident with technology, you’ll struggle to use Bitwarden effectively.
LastPass offers a more user-friendly interface and a broader range of features. It’s more than secure enough for the average user. Overall, LastPass’s ease-of-use — particularly its excellent browser extension and simple setup process — makes it a much better option for most people.