Updated on: March 1, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best free password manager in 2023:
- 🥇 Dashlane: Has unlimited password storage, provides excellent security, including 256-bit AES encryption and zero-knowledge architecture, and offers a good set of extra features, like a password generator, auto-save and auto-fill, password sharing, and password auditing. Dashlane is one of the best password managers on the market, and you can test all of its premium features with a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
I tested every free password manager on the market and found only a few that are actually decent. A lot of free password managers are really bad — some of them are super buggy, some of them are ineffective, and some of them are actually just spyware designed to steal all of your passwords. And built-in password managers from Apple and Chrome might be convenient, but they don’t have high levels of security and they don’t offer multi-platform support.
Many of the best password managers offer free versions, but most hit you with heaps of paywalls, rendering them basically useless. The unfortunate truth is that if you’re looking for the best features, the strongest security protections, and the most helpful customer support, you’ll have to spend a little bit of cash. Personally, I would never leave my sensitive data on a free password manager. If you’re like me and don’t want to deal with the hassles and limitations of a free password manager, a low-cost premium password manager like Dashlane is always the better choice.
However, there are some really good free password managers that offer powerful password security and some nice extra features. I spent the last month testing out free password managers on my PC, iPhone, MacBook, and Android to find the best free password managers in 2023.
Quick summary of the best free password managers:
- 🥇1. Dashlane — Best free password manager in 2023. In addition to allowing you to store an unlimited number of passwords on 1 device, the free plan also provides extras like auto-filling, password sharing, and password auditing. Dashlane Free comes with a 30-day free trial of Dashlane Premium, and all purchases are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- 🥈2. 1Password — Secure, easy to use, feature-rich, and comes with a 14-day free trial. It offers low-cost plans for both individuals and families, and it’s the only password manager that lets you add an unlimited number of users on the family plan.
- 🥉3. LastPass — Unlimited passwords on unlimited devices, but you need to choose between mobile or desktop devices. Includes auto-save and auto-fill, secure notes, password sharing, and a built-in authenticator.
- 4. NordPass — Simple interface and multi-device sync, but only on 1 device at a time. It provides auto-save and auto-fill functionalities, secure notes, and a password generator that lets you generate passphrases.
- 5. Avira Password Manager — Unlimited storage on unlimited devices, plus an intuitive interface. Also comes with good 2FA compatibility, a built-in authenticator on iOS and Android, and password auditing (but it’s very limited).
- Plus 3 More Free Password Managers!
- Comparison of the Best Free Password Managers in 2023.
🥇1. Dashlane — Best Overall Free Password Manager in 2023
Dashlane is my favorite free password manager in 2023. It’s secure, comes with more features than most competitors, and is easy to use across all devices, operating systems, and browsers. Its free plan has many of the features included in the premium plan, and it lets you store unlimited passwords on 1 device.
Free users get access to the following features:
- Auto-save and auto-fill. Dashlane securely auto-fills both login forms and payment information.
- Password sharing. Allows you to share an unlimited number of passwords with other Dashlane users.
- Password auditing. Shows which of your saved passwords are weak, reused, or compromised. I especially like that you can exclude some of your passwords from the overall password security score, which is useful if you want to only audit specific logins.
- Breach notifications. Provides immediate alerts if any of your saved logins show up in a data breach.
- Emergency access. Grants a trusted user access to your account in case you lose your master password or are unable to log in for any reason. Dashlane is the only password manager on this list that includes full emergency access on its free plan.
- TOTP authenticator. Generates and stores time-based one-time (TOTP) passwords for accounts with two-factor authentication (2FA).
Dashlane’s free plan is very good, but upgrading to Dashlane Premium comes with many benefits. You get multi-device sync, dark web monitoring, and even a virtual private network (VPN). Dashlane is the only password manager on the market with a bundled VPN, which is secure, fast, and works with streaming sites like Netflix. If you don’t want the VPN but still want all of the premium features, check out Dashlane Advanced, which costs $2.75 / month.
You can get Dashlane Premium at a 25% discount if you enter SAFETYD25 at checkout, so it’s only $3.33 / month, which is a pretty good deal for such a functional password manager. Families should check out Dashlane Friends & Family, which adds up to 10 users for $4.99 / month. All of Dashlane’s premium plans include a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Dashlane is the best free password manager in 2023. It has unlimited password storage on a single device and provides more features than most other brands include in their paid versions, including password sharing, emergency access, and breach notifications. Dashlane Free comes with a 30-day free trial of Dashlane Premium, and all purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Dashlane review >
🥈2. 1Password — Feature-Rich & Great for Families (But It’s Not Free)
1Password is the best overall password manager on the market. It’s one of the most feature-rich options around (and all of its features are easy to use and work as promised), it has an intuitive dashboard, and it offers affordable plans for both individuals and families. Unfortunately, 1Password doesn’t actually have a free version like Dashlane or the other password managers on my list. But it has a 14-day trial, so you can test all of its features risk-free and see if it’s right for you.
I really like 1Password’s Watchtower feature, which analyzes the entire password vault for weak or repeated passwords and also monitors the dark web for breached logins.
I also like 1Password’s unique Travel Mode, which lets you hide one or more of your logins when crossing borders. There are also virtual payment cards that mask your debit card number when shopping online (but this is only available for US users).
And I think 1Password has some of the best 2FA options on the market — it integrates seamlessly with one-time password apps like Google Authenticator and USB keys like YubiKey, it’s compatible with biometric scanners on Windows, Android, and iOS, and it has a built-in 2FA authenticator.
At $2.99 / month, 1Password for individuals is a really good value, costing less than what most top competitors charge for fewer features — but it’s a shame the plan lacks emergency access, an advanced security feature Dashlane includes in its free plan. And 1Password Families is my favorite family password manager, covering up to 5 members for $4.99 / month and allowing you to add as many new members as you want for a really small fee (no other password manager offers this kind of flexibility for families).
1Password has a ton of high-security features inside an intuitive user interface, but it’s not free. However, 1Password is one of the best-value password managers on the market, and it offers very affordable plans for individuals and families. You can try out all of 1Password’s features with a risk-free 14-day trial and see if it’s right for you.
Download 1Password Free (14 Days)
Read our full 1Password review >
🥉3. LastPass — Unlimited Passwords on Either Desktop or Mobile
LastPass provides unlimited logins and unlimited devices on its free plan, which is rare — but you have to choose between syncing passwords on computers or mobile devices. If you want to sync all of your passwords across all of your desktop and mobile devices, you’ll need to upgrade to the paid version (which is very affordable).
That said, you get lots of good features with LastPass Free. It has good auto-filling capabilities, a built-in authenticator, and 2FA compatibility. I especially like its built-in authenticator (called LastPass Authenticator), which lets you log into accounts with 2FA instead of having to sign into a separate authenticator app.
LastPass also has an intuitive interface, which displays all entries clearly. It’s easy to organize passwords — when adding a new item, LastPass gives users the option to choose the correct category, which makes finding your passwords a lot simpler.
It’s also great that LastPass’s free plan comes with one-to-one password sharing, which allows users to share passwords, notes, and credit card information with one other LastPass user (but Dashlane provides unlimited sharing on its free plan). There’s also password auditing, which lets you check how secure your stored passwords are.
Unfortunately, LastPass Free doesn’t come with emergency access — Dashlane includes it in its free plan, and 1Password includes it in its 1Password Families plan (which comes with a 14-day free trial). That said, LastPass offers a wide range of account recovery options — if you forget your master password, you can easily recover your account (this is something most competitors don’t offer).
LastPass Free provides just about everything you could want in a password manager, but upgrading to LastPass Premium adds some pretty good features. For just $3.00 / month, you get unlimited access across all devices, biometric MFA, one-to-many sharing, emergency access, and dark web monitoring. There’s also a family plan that’s the same but includes up to 6 licenses.
LastPass’s free plan provides unlimited password storage on unlimited devices, but you have to choose between device types (desktop or mobile). It also includes a wide range of extra features, including one-to-one password sharing, 2FA, a built-in authenticator, and password auditing. Upgrading to the premium plan gets you syncing across both desktop and mobile devices, one-to-many password sharing, and emergency access.
Read our full LastPass review >
4. NordPass — Very Intutitive Interface + Multi-Device Sync
NordPass offers secure, unlimited password storage on multiple devices in an intuitive interface. Across all of my devices, NordPass was the easiest password manager to set up. It features a streamlined design, and it only took seconds for me to understand how it worked.
That said, you can only log into NordPass Free on 1 device at a time. This is especially frustrating because I like to multitask across my phone and my computer. To use NordPass across multiple devices simultaneously (up to 6 devices), you need to upgrade to the premium plan.
Still, NordPass’s free plan includes some cool features, including multi-factor authentication. You can log into your password vault using only your fingerprint or face scan on compatible devices, plus there’s Yubikey support and several other authentication options to help keep your account and password vault secure.
Unlike most password managers, NordPass protects passwords using the XChaCha20 algorithm. XChaCha20 is a more modern algorithm than the 256-bit AES encryption that the other password managers on my list use, and NordPass claims it’s both faster and easier to implement. However, it’s impossible to say which is actually better because neither encryption method has ever been hacked.
NordPass Free is a decent password manager which does the basics well — but if you want to use NordPass across multiple devices at the same time and access NordPass’s password health checker, data breach scanner, and emergency access, you’ll need to upgrade to NordPass Premium for $1.99 / month. While it’s pretty common for a password manager not to include health checkers or data breach scanners in a free plan, Dashlane Free does offer emergency access, so it’s disappointing that NordPass Free lacks this feature.
NordPass syncs unlimited passwords on multiple devices, provides an intuitive interface, and includes biometric authentication for compatible devices. I was a little frustrated that I could only log into NordPass Free on 1 device at a time, but it still provides more functionality in its free version than most other competitors. You can also try the premium version of NordPass with a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full NordPass review >
5. Avira Password Manager Free — Unlimited Password Storage Across Unlimited Devices
Avira Password Manager Free allows users to sync unlimited passwords across unlimited devices — so it’s perfect for people with tens or hundreds of passwords and tons of devices. The free plan also has 2FA compatibility (including biometric logins), and there’s also a good built-in authenticator.
Avira Password Manager’s free version is pretty limited when compared to Dashlane or LastPass, but it’s one of the most intuitive options on the market. During my tests, the app was able to generate passwords, save logins to my vault, and auto-fill saved logins with just a few clicks.
I was able to easily import my saved passwords from Chrome to Avira, and the app automatically synced all of my passwords between my desktop and mobile devices.
Users looking for additional security features can upgrade to Avira’s paid app, which also includes data breach monitoring, password vault auditing, and priority customer support, for just $2.67 / month. If you also need a good antivirus, you can bundle Avira Password Manager with Avira’s premium antivirus software. All yearly purchases come with a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee.
Avira Password Manager Free is secure and intuitive, and it provides unlimited password storage across multiple devices. It has 256-bit AES encryption, a zero-knowledge policy, and offers biometric login for mobile devices and a built-in TOTP authenticator. Upgrading to the paid version of the app brings you vault security auditing and data breach monitoring.
Download Avira Password Manager Free
Read our full Avira Password Manager review >
6. RoboForm — Easy to Use With an Excellent Form Filler
RoboForm Free is secure, intuitive, and comes with the best form filler on the market — most password managers store and fill simple web forms, but RoboForm’s form filler is able to fill out even the most advanced web forms with perfect accuracy.
RoboForm Free also offers unlimited password storage and includes password auditing, bookmarks storage, and emergency access. But, unlike Dashlane, RoboForm’s emergency access only lets you receive emergency access, not grant it to others.
You need to upgrade to RoboForm Everywhere to access multi-platform support, 2FA, cloud backup, and a secure folder for sharing logins for $0.99 / month. Families should take a look at RoboForm Family, which covers up to 5 users for $27.70 / year. Both of RoboForm’s paid plans are significantly more affordable than competing brands with a similar set of tools.
RoboForm is easy to use and it has the best form filler around, which consistently auto-fills both simple and complex web forms without errors. It’s also got password auditing, bookmarks storage, and unlimited password storage — but only for a single device. It’s a great choice for new password manager users looking to cover a phone or a laptop, but I’d like to see RoboForm offer multi-device sync in its free version, like LastPass and Avira Password Manager do.
Read our full RoboForm review >
7. Sticky Password — High Browser Compatibility + Portable USB Version
Sticky Password Free offers unlimited password storage, but it doesn’t sync between devices like LastPass and Avira Password Manager do. That said, unlike most password managers that are only compatible with the most popular browsers, Sticky Password works on 10+ browsers, including specialized ones like Pale Moon and Seamonkey.
On Windows, Sticky Password Free also includes USB portability — you can download your vault to a USB drive to access Sticky Password on any Windows PC. This is especially valuable for students and travelers who need to access their online accounts on different computers.
I also like that the free plan includes biometric logins, so you can use a fingerprint or face scan to access your password vault on any device that supports biometric scanning.
On the other hand, Sticky Password’s free plan doesn’t include password sharing. LastPass Free allows sharing with 1 other user, whereas Dashlane’s free version lets you securely share an unlimited number of passwords with friends, family, or work colleagues.
Upgrading to Sticky Password Premium ($29.99 / year) adds syncing between multiple devices, password sharing, dark web monitoring, and secure cloud backup. Plus, a portion of every purchase goes to a non-profit dedicated to saving manatees! There’s no family plan, but Sticky Password does offer a lifetime subscription (something very few brands offer).
Sticky Password Free offers unlimited password storage and supports 15+ browsers. It also comes with biometric logins, and includes USB portability on Windows, which is perfect for travelers and students. But it doesn’t provide emergency access and secure password sharing. Upgrading to Sticky Password Premium gets you multi-device sync and password sharing for a pretty low price.
Read our full Sticky Password review >
Bonus. Bitwarden — Open-Source Option With Unlimited Password Storage
Bitwarden Free provides unlimited password storage and covers an unlimited number of devices. Avira Password Manager is the only other 100% free password manager on this list that also does that (LastPass also lets you store unlimited passwords, but only on mobile or desktop devices).
Bitwarden is open-source, which means that its source code is freely available online, so anyone can inspect it to make sure it’s free of vulnerabilities. It’s also great that Bitwarden has been independently audited and verified — it makes it easy to trust this provider.
But Bitwarden isn’t very user-friendly, so it’s not great for beginners. While it’s much harder to use than competitors like Dashlane and 1Password, it may be a good option for tech-savvy users looking for a highly customizable password manager.
In addition, Bitwarden’s auto-save and auto-fill are pretty inconsistent. I spent a lot of time editing my password vault and manually entering new logins because Bitwarden had trouble properly saving and auto-filling my passwords.
Upgrading to Bitwarden’s premium version gives you access to some great security features — biometric 2FA, password auditing tools, and encrypted storage. The premium plan for individuals costs just $10.00 / year, and the family plan is only $40.00 / year.
Bitwarden Free is a secure, open-source password manager that provides unlimited password storage on unlimited devices. It’s definitely the least easy-to-use password manager on my list, and its auto-save and auto-fill can be pretty inconsistent. However, if you don’t mind getting into the nuts and bolts of your password manager, Bitwarden is a great choice.
Read our full Bitwarden review >
Comparison of the Best Free Password Managers in 2023
|Password Manager||Starting Price||Free Trial/ Money-Back Guarantee||Number of Passwords||Number of Devices||Password Auditing||Emergency Access|
|1.🥇Dashlane||$2.00 / month||30-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||1||✅||✅|
|2.🥈1Password||$2.99 / month||14-day free trial||Unlimited (paid version)||Unlimited (paid version)||✅
|3.🥉LastPass||$3.00 / month||30-day free trial||Unlimited||Unlimited (either desktop or mobile)||✅||❌|
||$1.99 / month||30-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||Unlimited (but you can only be logged into 1 at a time)||❌||❌|
|5. Avira Password Manager||$2.67 / month||60-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||Unlimited||✅
(but it’s limited)
|6. RoboForm||$0.99 / month||30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||1||✅||✅
(but you can only receive it, not grant it)
|7. Sticky Password||$29.99 / year||30-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||1||✅||❌|
|Bonus. Bitwarden||$10.00 / year||30-day money-back guarantee||Unlimited||Unlimited||❌||❌|
How to Choose the Best Free Password Manager for Your Needs in 2023
- Choose a password manager with free access. The password manager should either have a free plan or a free trial that allows you to test most of its features. For example, Dashlane has a free plan, while 1Password has a free 14-day trial.
- Go for strong security. I only recommend free password managers that use 256-bit AES encryption or similar and provide zero-knowledge architecture. Some of my top picks (like Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass) also include support for two-factor authentication (2FA).
- Look for useful features. Password managers usually hide their best features behind a paywall, but all of the password managers on my list have free plans that include basic password management features like secure password generation and auto-save and auto-fill. And some even have extra features like password auditing, password sharing, and biometric logins.
- Check for good performance. All the free password managers on my list are able to generate secure passwords without any issues, and almost all of them are able to consistently auto-save and auto-fill logins.
- Pick a product that’s easy to use. If a password manager is hard to use, then it’s not good. The products on my list make it easy to detect and save new passwords, auto-fill saved logins, generate passwords, and edit password vault settings.
- Make sure there’s decent customer support. All my top picks provide really good customer support via helpful, in-depth support libraries, active forums, or responsive email support.
- Opt for fair pricing. If the password manager has paid plans, they should be affordable and provide great value by adding helpful extra features. Plus, some password managers even come with money-back guarantees — for example, Dashlane backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Risks & Disadvantages of Using a Free Password Manager
I usually recommend avoiding free password managers because most aren’t safe to use — they usually lack strong encryption, have exploitable security flaws, and don’t have zero-knowledge protocols (which means the password manager could access your password).
But there are also good free password managers out there, like the ones on my list. They all provide industry-standard features like bank-grade encryption, auto-save and auto-fill capabilities, and secure password generation.
However, most of them also lack important extra features like password sharing (lets you securely share logins with trusted contacts), password vault auditing (checks how strong your passwords are and if they were leaked), and dark web monitoring (alerts you if your accounts were leaked in a data breach).
All of the free password managers on this list are good, but they still have noticeable limitations — for example, Dashlane Free only allows you to use 1 device, and Avira Password Manager Free doesn’t include comprehensive password security audits or account breach alerts.
If you’re looking for the best protection, you’ll need to pay for a premium password manager. But the good news is that high-quality password managers are pretty affordable — for instance, Dashlane Premium is available for only $3.33 / month, and 1Password Personal only costs $2.99 / month. Plus, most top password managers come with a free trial or a generous money-back guarantee (Dashlane has a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, and 1Password provides a free 14-day trial).
Free vs. Paid Password Managers
Free password managers can help you securely manage your passwords, but they don’t provide access to helpful extra features and they come with inconvenient limitations. For example, Dashlane’s free plan limits you to 1 device. LastPass’s free version doesn’t come with emergency access and makes you choose between syncing passwords on desktop or mobile devices. And Avira Password Manager Free lacks password auditing and data breach monitoring.
With a top paid password manager, you’ll usually get access to extra features like password sharing, emergency access, and dark web monitoring. What’s more, most paid password managers usually allow you to store unlimited passwords on unlimited devices. Plus, if you get a paid password manager, you’re likely to receive better customer support — for instance, RoboForm’s free plan only includes 24/7 email support, while its paid plans provide access to priority email support and also add live chat and phone support.
Overall, I only recommend using a free password manager to test the service before you buy it — ultimately, it’s much better to get a paid service, as it simply provides significantly better value.
Do You Really Need a Third-Party Password Manager?
Some browsers and operating systems come with their own built-in password managers — for example, Apple has iCloud Keychain, and Chrome and Firefox provide access to their own password managers. These built-in options are very convenient, so why would you bother getting a third-party password manager?
I agree that built-in password managers are convenient, and I also understand that these services are enough for some people, as they provide basic functionality, like generating and auto-filling passwords.
That said, I’m not a fan of built-in password managers because they’re not secure, they lack helpful extra features, or they’re confusing to use. Here are some examples:
- Google’s password manager doesn’t require two-factor authentication when you want to view your passwords, so if someone gets access to your Google account, they can see all your passwords. What’s more, there’s no proof that this password manager uses end-to-end encryption, meaning Google could see your passwords — that’s terrible for your privacy!
- While Apple’s password manager is secure, it’s difficult to use because it doesn’t come with a dedicated app — instead, you access the password manager within your iOS or macOS’s device settings, which is really inconvenient.
- Firefox’s password manager doesn’t alert you if you’re using weak passwords, it lacks support for two-factor authentication, and it doesn’t enable the primary password by default — so if you forget to set up the primary password, anyone who has access to your browser can also access your passwords.
Premium third-party password managers provide significantly better value. Quality products like Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass are more secure and easier to use, and come with tons of features that make it simpler to manage your passwords (like emergency access, which allows a trusted contact to access your account if you accidentally lose access to it). What’s more, these password managers have free plans or free trials, so you can use them free of charge just like a built-in password manager.
Tips to Improve Password Safety in 2023
Free password managers come with limitations, so they can’t 100% protect your passwords from all online threats — for example, Dashlane and LastPass’s free plans don’t include dark web monitoring (so they can’t alert you if your password is leaked on the dark web), and Avira Password Manager Free doesn’t come with password auditing (so it can’t notify you if you have weak or duplicate passwords).
That said, if you don’t want to get a paid password manager, a free service is good enough — but only as long as you also follow these password safety tips:
- Use a different password for each account. You should never reuse passwords for important accounts, like email, social media, or bank accounts — if a hacker manages to compromise your password, they can take over all of your accounts.
- Enable 2FA on your account. Most online services support 2FA logins, so I strongly recommend enabling it on your end. This way, even if a hacker manages to steal your password, they can’t compromise your account since they won’t have access to the 2FA codes generated on your device.
- Change compromised passwords. If you hear that a site you have an account on has suffered a data breach, I strongly recommend changing your password as soon as possible. You can also use the Have I Been Pwned tool to check if your passwords have been leaked online. If you use Dashlane’s free plan, it will show you which passwords have been compromised and alert you if your logins show up in a data breach.
- Use antivirus software. Password managers can protect you from fake sites, but they can’t prevent direct malware infections. Always use an antivirus program on your device to make sure malicious actors can’t use malware to compromise your logins — there are tons of top antivirus tools out there, but my favorite one is Norton 360 because it has an advanced malware scanner and perfect malware detection rates, dark web monitoring, and ransomware protection.
- Avoid unsecure Wi-Fi networks. Cybercriminals can use unsecured networks (Wi-Fi hotspots that don’t require a password) to spy on your traffic, so they could steal your login credentials. If you have no choice but to use an unsecured network, make sure you connect to a VPN first, so that it makes your data unreadable — Dashlane’s paid plans include access to a very good VPN, but there are also a few free, safe VPNs on the market that you can use, like Proton VPN.
- Only access HTTPS sites. HTTPS websites encrypt all the data that is shared between them and your device — HTTP websites don’t do that, so the site owners could spy on your data (including your passwords).
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Keeper. Keeper is very secure, comes with tons of features, and provides intuitive apps for all popular devices, but I don’t like how bare-bones its free plan is — you hardly get any of its features and you can use it on only 1 device.
- True Key. True Key is a decent password manager, but its free plan only lets you store 15 passwords, which is not enough for me (or anyone, really). I also don’t like that True Key is missing a password sharing feature.
- KeePass. KeePass is free and open-source, but its official version is only available on Windows and I found its app very difficult to use. Also, you need to use additional plugins to use KeePass with your browser, which is extremely inconvenient.
Frequently Asked Questions
Doesn’t my device/browser already have a free password manager?
Yes. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox, as well as mobile operating systems like Android and iOS, have free built-in password managers, but they just aren’t as useful as third-party password managers. All third-party password managers provide better features and security than the ones already built into Chrome, iOS, and Android. Free third-party password managers include a variety of unique features that aren’t included in built-in password managers, like:
- Password auditing. If your passwords are simple and repetitive, it’s super easy for a hacker to crack your logins. Password auditing scans your entire vault for simple and repeated passwords — Dashlane has a password auditing tool that works as promised and is very intuitive.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA). Many password managers are compatible with third-party authenticators which use a one-time password to verify your identity. This means that your password vault stays secure, even if your master password gets stolen.
- Secure encryption. Password managers use 256-bit AES encryption, which is the same encryption used by banks and militaries around the world. Many built-in password managers don’t have as good encryption.
- Built-in authenticator. Products like LastPass and Avira Password Manager include a built-in authenticator, saving time when trying to log into 2FA-enabled websites.
Are free password managers good enough?
Free password managers have a lot of great features, but every free password manager has some limitations that will affect your user experience and security. For example, Dashlane Free limits you to 1 device, which might not be enough for everyone. And LastPass Free doesn’t include emergency access, which means that no one else can access your account in the event of a crisis.
Paid password managers aren’t very expensive, and the best ones include dark web monitoring, encrypted chat and storage, unlimited password sharing, and emergency access in case you’re unable to access your account. Free password managers may be good enough for some people, but I still recommend paying a few bucks a month for a high-quality premium password manager.
Are third-party password managers safe?
Password managers are designed to protect all of your passwords, as well as credit card information and private notes. It can be scary to trust all of this sensitive information to one program, but password managers actually make you safer online. Here’s how:
- Secure encryption. Most password managers store your vault on their servers, which makes it easy to sync between devices. Before your data leaves your device, it’s encrypted using end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption, which scrambles your data so thoroughly that it’s impossible to decipher.
- Zero-knowledge architecture. Good password managers are built using zero-knowledge architecture, meaning only you can access your stored data. Not even the password manager company or its developers can view your stored passwords or payment card details, which means even if the password manager company’s systems were hacked, no one could view or steal your information.
- Auto-fill. Hackers often steal user passwords using screen logging and keylogging spyware — this dangerous malware can record what’s happening on your screen, as well as every keystroke on your keyboard. By auto-filling your passwords, password managers keep your login data from being seen on your screen or entered into your keyboard.
- Password generators. If you aren’t using a password manager, then your passwords are probably easy for you to remember and easy for a hacker to crack. Password generators are built into every password manager, and they create completely random and complex passwords with tons of symbols, numbers, and letters that your password manager can easily remember, but which are super difficult to crack.
Password managers increase your security by protecting you from screen loggers, generating hyper-complex passwords, and protecting your data with secure encryption. It’s much safer to use one of these password managers than to try and juggle all of your passwords on your own.
How do accounts get breached?
Password breaches most frequently happen because of user error. Passwords can be stolen using keylogging malware or cracked through brute force attacks — which throws thousands of passwords in the login field until one of them clicks.
LastPass allows you to protect your password vault using authenticator apps like Authy, which generate a temporary one-time password — you need both the one-time password and your Master Password to log into LastPass. This means that anybody using your Master Password to hack your vault remotely can’t do it without also having your physical device with the authenticator app on it.
Large websites can also succumb to data breaches — hackers will break into a company’s servers and release all of their users’ login information to the dark web. Hackers can then access your account on the breached site and use the information from your account to crack into more and more of your accounts. This is why it’s so important to use a password manager that provides breach notifications — like Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass.
Is Apple’s built-in password manager safe to use?
Yes, Apple’s built-in password manager (called iCloud Keychain) is a safe password manager that’s available free of charge on iOS and macOS devices. It uses end-to-end encryption and a zero-knowledge architecture (so Apple doesn’t have access to your passwords).
Apple’s password manager can also generate strong passwords and store account passwords, credit card numbers, and WiFi passwords. What’s more, it comes with auto-filling, security auditing (alerts you if your passwords are weak, reused, or compromised in a data breach), and 2FA support for applications like Google Authenticator or Authy. And to access your passwords, you need to verify your identity using a passcode or biometric login (FaceID on iOS and TouchID on macOS). But while Apple’s built-in password manager is safe to use, it’s not as convenient or full-featured as top competitors like Dashlane — here’s why:
- It only works on Apple devices, so you can’t securely share passwords with members of your family or friends who use Android smartphones and Windows or Linux computers.
- There’s no dedicated app for the password manager — instead, you access it inside your iOS or macOS device’s settings, which can be confusing.
- It’s missing emergency access, which lets a trusted user access your account if you lose access to it or can’t access it for any reason (Dashlane includes emergency access in its free plan).
- It can’t store passports, social security numbers, medical records, or reward schemes (like 1Password).
Is Google Password Manager safe to use?
Google Password Manager is free to use and auto-fills usernames, email addresses, and passwords, but it doesn’t offer the same level of security as the top password managers on my list. That’s because I couldn’t find any proof that Google Password Manager uses end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge architecture (meaning Google could see your passwords, which is terrible for your privacy).
What’s more, Google Password Manager doesn’t allow secure sharing (if you want to share a password with someone, you need to find a different way to do it securely). I also don’t like that Google doesn’t require two-factor authentication when you want to view your passwords — so anyone who has access to your browser and your Google account password can see all your passwords!
Is Firefox Password Manager safe to use?
Firefox Password Manager is free to use and provides good security — it encrypts your passwords, generates strong passwords, auto-fills login credentials, and alerts you if your passwords have been leaked online. That said, I don’t think Firefox’s password manager is as good as the other top free password managers mentioned in this article (like 1Password or Dashlane).
My main issue with Firefox Password manager is that it doesn’t specify what type of encryption it uses (all top password managers use 256-bit AES encryption or a similar alternative). Also, Firefox claims that it can’t see your passwords if you enable Firefox Sync (a feature that syncs login data), but I couldn’t find any proof that Firefox uses zero-knowledge architecture.
And while Firefox has a primary password (you use it to access your logins), I don’t like that it’s not enabled by default — if you forget to set a primary password, anyone who has access to your browser can see your passwords. Firefox Password Manager is also missing other security features that are present in most top password managers, like secure sharing (securely shares login credentials with other users), password security auditing (alerts you if your passwords are weak or reused), and two-factor authentication support (adds an extra login step when you access your accounts to verify your identity).