Short on time? Here’s the best free password manager in 2021:
After testing every free password manager I could find, there are only a few that I think 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 of them hit you with so many paywalls that they basically become 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 which offer powerful password security, good user interfaces, 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 2021.
Here’s a summary of the best free password managers
- 🥇1. LastPass — #1 overall free password manager. Offers unlimited password storage on multiple devices (but you have to choose either desktop devices or mobile devices). LastPass is the only free password manager that offers password auditing, 2FA compatibility, password sharing, and a built-in authenticator.
- 🥈2. Avira Password Manager — Unlimited storage on unlimited devices, plus an intuitive interface. Includes biometric logins, a built-in 2FA authenticator, and a well-functioning auto-saving and auto-filling capability.
- 🥉3. RoboForm — User-friendly with an excellent form filler and unlimited password storage on one device. Lets free users check the vault for weak passwords, receive emergency access, organize bookmarks, and send logins to other users.
- 4. Sticky Password — Saves unlimited passwords and works with lots of browsers. Provides USB portability and biometric login, but you have to upgrade for multi-device sync.
- 5. Bitwarden — Unlimited password storage + multi-device sync, but challenging interface. One of the best free password management plans, but the issues with auto-filling and auto-saving passwords make Bitwarden best for technically experienced users.
- Bonus: Dashlane — Great extra features, but limited storage on free plan. Includes personalized security alerts and limited password sharing (up to 5 accounts), but it only provides storage for 50 passwords on a single device.
- Bonus: 1Password — Secure, easy to use, and feature-rich, but no free plan. Comes with a 14-day free trial and offers low-cost plans for both individuals and families (especially good for large families).
How I Selected the Best Free Password Managers in 2021
I tested out these free password managers on a variety of platforms so I could make sure that they work as advertised. Here’s what I looked for in my testing:
- Security. I looked into each password manager’s end-to-end encryption settings to make sure they use 256-bit AES or equivalent to protect passwords. I also tested features like two-factor authentication (2FA) and password auditing to ensure there are no security vulnerabilities.
- Features. Password manager companies hide their best features behind a paywall, so I made sure that each password manager’s free plan had the necessary features like secure password generation and auto-fill. And some even have extra features like password auditing, password sharing, biometric login, credit card auto-fill, and more.
- Ease of 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.
- Customer support. Most password managers rely on email support while others provide live chat. I sent a variety of technical questions to each customer support team, looking for quick response times and helpful replies.
🥇1. LastPass — Best Overall Free Password Manager
LastPass Free is my favorite free password manager in 2021. It offers unlimited password storage on multiple devices, and it includes a bunch of great additional protections.
The worst thing about LastPass’s free plan is that it makes you choose between syncing passwords across either desktops (and Windows tablets) or mobile devices. So if you want to sync LastPass across mobiles and desktops, you need to upgrade. That said, I still think it’s the top free password manager out there.
These are the main security features included in LastPass Free:
- Password auditing. The Security Challenge feature audits the password vault and flags weak and repeated passwords. It also includes a password changer that can automatically change passwords on almost 80 popular websites.
- 2FA compatibility. Works with one-time password apps like Google Authenticator, which provides another layer of security when logging into your password vault.
- Built-in authenticator. Generates secure one-time passwords for all of your online 2FA-enabled logins. This saves time by keeping your passwords and 2FA in one place, instead of having to sign into a separate authenticator app every time you access a 2FA-enabled login.
- One-to-one sharing. Allows users to share passwords, notes, and credit card information with one other LastPass user.
LastPass is the only free password manager on my list that offers password auditing, multi-device sync, 2FA compatibility, and password sharing.
LastPass Free provides just about everything you could want in a password manager, but upgrading to LastPass Premium adds some pretty good features — unlimited access across all devices, biometric MFA, emergency access, and one-to-many sharing — making LastPass Premium a significantly more convenient product.
LastPass provides unlimited password storage on either desktop or mobile, and it includes a bunch of great additional features. It can audit all of your passwords and update many of them with one click, and the built-in authenticator makes it easy to secure 2FA-compatible logins online. LastPass Free is a great product — it has an attractive user interface, powerful security protections, multi-device support, and a lot of extra features, all for free.
🥈2. Avira Password Manager Free — Unlimited Password Storage Across Unlimited Devices
Avira Password Manager Free allows users to sync unlimited passwords across unlimited devices with its free version (something that not even LastPass provides). Avira makes the best free antivirus software on the market, so it’s no surprise that it also offers one of the most full-featured free password managers. Avira also provides biometric logins for mobile users, as well as a built-in TOTP authenticator.
In terms of security, Avira Password Manager provides all of the user protections that I would expect from a top-quality password manager. All passwords are encrypted on the device level using 256-bit AES encryption, which ensures that nobody (including Avira) is able to read any of your data. This zero-knowledge policy is great for privacy, but I wish that Avira would include some account recovery options, like LastPass provides with its free plan.
That said, Avira Password Manager is very easy to use. 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. You can get the premium version of Avira Password Manager as a standalone app, or bundled with Avira’s premium antivirus software.
Avira Password Manager Free is secure, intuitive, and provides unlimited password storage across multiple devices. Avira 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.
🥉3. RoboForm — Easy to Use with Excellent Form-Filling Capabilities
RoboForm 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. You can choose from 7 different “identity” templates (like passport or credit card information), or you can create a fully customizable identity with as many fields and values as you want.
RoboForm Free also offers unlimited password storage and more security features than most competitors offer in their free plans, including password auditing, bookmarks storage, and emergency access (but you can only receive emergency access, not grant it to others). However, RoboForm Free only covers a single device, so it’s not ideal if you need more than one device or multi-device sync.
Upgrading to RoboForm Everywhere brings you multi-platform support on an unlimited number of devices, as well as additional protections such as two-factor authentication, cloud backup, and a secure folder for sharing logins. RoboForm Everywhere Families is the same, but it covers up to 5 users. 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.
4. Sticky Password — High Browser Compatibility + Portable USB Version
Sticky Password Free offers unlimited password storage on unlimited devices, but it doesn’t sync between devices, like LastPass and Avira Password Manager do, which is a major inconvenience. However, Sticky Password does offer a few unique features that make it a compelling choice, such as:
- Biometric logins. Use a fingerprint or face scan to access your password vault on any device that supports biometric scanning.
- Browser compatibility. Sticky Password is compatible with the 5 most popular browsers — Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, and Safari — as well as 6 other specialized browsers like Seamonkey and Pale Moon.
- USB portability. 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 from different computers.
Sticky Password offers a lot in their free version, but I’d recommend the upgrade to Sticky Password Premium — it’s one of the cheaper options on my list, and it provides syncing between devices as well as password sharing. Plus, a portion of every purchase goes to the Save The Manatee Club!
Sticky Password Free offers unlimited password storage on unlimited devices. But it doesn’t provide syncing between devices, which is very limiting. However, it is compatible with a bunch of niche browsers, and its USB portability is a useful feature for students or travelers. That said, Sticky Password Premium is much better — it offers multi-device sync and password sharing for a pretty low price.
5. Bitwarden — Open-Source Option with Unlimited Password Storage
Bitwarden is a powerful open-source password manager with a generous free plan — it gives unlimited password storage and covers an unlimited number of devices. LastPass is the only other password manager on this list which does that. Bitwarden is also “open-source”, which means that Bitwarden’s source code is freely available online, so a large community of developers are constantly working to make the product as safe and secure as possible.
Unfortunately, open-source also means that Bitwarden is not very user friendly. Tech-savvy users will love the customizability of Bitwarden, with its optional command-line interface and deep submenus, but everyday people will find Bitwarden harder to use than competitors like LastPass and Avira Password Manager.
Bitwarden’s auto-fill and password recall 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.
However, if you don’t mind putting in a little bit of extra time, Bitwarden is a highly secure password manager with unlimited storage. The premium version is also a great option — it offers biometric 2FA, password auditing tools, and encrypted storage for a low price.
Bitwarden Free is a secure, open-source password manager which provides unlimited password storage on unlimited devices. It’s definitely the least easy-to-use password manager on my list, and the auto-fill and password recall 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.
Bonus: Dashlane — Great Additional Features but Limited Storage
Dashlane is our pick for the best overall password manager in 2021, and the free version has many of the same great features. Unfortunately, Dashlane Free only stores 50 passwords on a single device, which will be a deal-breaker for most people. But Dashlane does include some of the best features of any free password manager:
- Password sharing. Allows up to 5 passwords to be shared with other Dashlane users.
- 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.
- Breach notifications. Provides immediate alerts if any of your saved logins show up in a data breach.
- Password auditing. Shows which of your saved passwords are weak, reused, or compromised.
Dashlane Free is basically a trial version of Dashlane’s paid plans. While the free version is good, I’d recommend most users take a look at Dashlane Essentials (includes unlimited passwords, unlimited sharing, and coverage for up to 2 devices) or Dashlane Premium (adds unlimited devices, a VPN, dark web monitoring, and 1 GB cloud storage).
Dashlane Free provides some super helpful features that most password managers only include in their paid versions, like limited password sharing, emergency access, and breach notifications. However, the 50-password limit on a single device makes this product too limited for most people. Still, it’s worth looking into if you want to check out some of the features that make Dashlane Premium our favorite password manager in 2021.
Bonus: 1Password — Secure & Feature-Rich (But It’s Not Free)
1Password has a ton of high-security features, an intuitive dashboard, and affordable plans for both individuals and families. Unfortunately, 1Password doesn’t have a free version, 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.
1Password is one of the most feature-rich password managers on the market, and all of its features are easy to use and work as promised.
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.
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, and it has a built-in 2FA authenticator.
1Passwords for individuals is a really good value, costing less than what most top competitors charge for fewer features. And 1Password Families is one of my favorite family password managers, covering up to 5 members 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.
Frequently Asked Questions — Best Free Password Managers
Doesn’t my device/browser already have a free password manager?
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 on 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, and LastPass even offers to automatically replace some of them.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA). Many password managers, like LastPass and 1Password, 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 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, LastPass Free doesn’t include emergency access, which means that no one else can access your account in the event of a crisis. And Bitwarden’s free version doesn’t include password auditing or encrypted data storage.
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. Dashlane Premium even provides a surprisingly fast VPN!
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. End-to-end encryption means that only the device which generated the encryption can read the encrypted data — no one but you knows what your password are. Even in the case of a data breach or government subpoena, there’s no way to decrypt your data on the password manager’s servers.
- 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 behind 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.