Short on time? Here’s the best free password manager in 2021:
- 🥇 LastPass: Unlimited password storage on unlimited devices (changing soon!) and lots of extra features that most other brands charge money for.
After testing 23 different free password managers, there are only a few which 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 premium 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 (soon to be only desktop or mobile), as well as more additional features than any other competitor. LastPass is the only free password manager that offers password auditing, 2FA compatibility, password sharing, and a built-in authenticator.
- 🥈2. NordPass — Unlimited storage on multiple devices, plus an intuitive interface. Includes biometric logins, powerful security protections, and consistent auto-filling. Limits users to logging in on only one device at a time.
- 🥉3. RememBear — Very user-friendly program which provides unlimited password storage on one device. Provides cute bear cartoons, a helpful achievement system for accessing additional features, and biometric logins for free users.
- 4. 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.
- 5. 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.
- Bonus: Dashlane — Great extra features, but limited storage on free plan. One-click password changer and breach monitoring are great, but only provides 50 passwords on a single device.
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 — Unlimited Password Storage + Unlimited Devices (for now)
Note that soon, LastPass’s free plan will make you choose between syncing passwords across either desktops (and Windows tablets) or mobile devices. That said, I still think it’s the top free password manager.
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 — biometric MFA, emergency access, and one-to-many sharing — making LastPass Premium a significantly more convenient product.
LastPass provides unlimited password storage on unlimited devices (for now, but this will change soon), 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. NordPass — Simplest Interface, Multi-Device Sync
NordPass offers secure, unlimited password storage on multiple devices with an interface that is streamlined and easy to use. I’m not surprised by NordPass’s quality — it’s made by the same team as NordVPN, which is my favorite VPN on the market.
NordPass protects user passwords with the XChaCha20 algorithm, the same encryption that Google uses to keep their data secure. NordPass also includes biometric logins so you can log into your password vault using only your fingerprint.
NordPass is very easy to use. Across all of my devices, NordPas was the easiest password manager to get set up. It’s got a simple, streamlined interface which took me just a few seconds to understand.
But every free password manager has some frustrating limitations, and NordPass is no different.
While NordPass Free allows for unlimited password storage on multiple devices, which is better than most competitors, but you can only log into NordPass Free on one device at a time. This is frustrating for me, as I like to multitask on both my phone and computer. Unlimited simultaneous devices only come on NordPass Premium.
NordPass is one of the best free password managers on the market. It 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 one device at a time, but it still provides more functionality in its free version than most other competitors.
🥉3. RememBear — Fun, Easy-to-Use Interface (Single Device)
RememBear has an extremely playful, simple, and intuitive interface — complete with hand-drawn animations of bears! RememBear also has a good team — it’s developed by the same company as the well-trusted virtual private network (VPN) provider TunnelBear.
After the 30-day free trial of the Premium plan, you get RememBear Free, which offers unlimited password storage and biometric logins as well as a built-in authenticator which generates one-time passwords for 2FA-compatible websites. But RememBear Free only covers a single device, so it’s not ideal if you need more than one device or multi-device sync.
RememBear offers a fun achievement system which rewards users for accessing RememBear’s functions, such as importing a previous password vault or installing the RememBear browser extension. For each feature you unlock, you receive a cute bear cartoon, and you get a discount on RememBear Premium for hitting 6 achievements. It’s a fun way to help new users figure out how to get the most out of their password manager.
RememBear is super easy to use, with a helpful interface and lots of animated bears. It’s also got powerful privacy protections, biometric logins, 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 laptop, but I’d like to see RememBear offer multi-device sync in their free version, like LastPass and NordPass do.
4. 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 RememBear and NordPass.
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.
5. Sticky Password — High Browser Compatibility
Sticky Password Free offers unlimited password storage on unlimited devices, but it doesn’t sync between devices, like LastPass and NordPass 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.
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:
- One-click password changer. Dashlane automatically replaces passwords for over 500 popular websites.
- 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.
Dashlane Free is basically a trial version of Dashlane Premium. While the free version is good, I’d recommend most users spend a few bucks a month and get the paid version to unlock all of Dashlane’s advanced features (including a VPN).
Dashlane Free provides some super helpful features that most password managers only include in their paid versions, like a one-click password changer, 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.
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 and Dashlane even offer to automatically replace some of them.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA). Many password managers, like NordPass and Bitwarden, 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 RememBear 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 — LastPass and Bitwarden both cover an unlimited number of passwords on an unlimited number of devices for free. However, 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 the best 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 and LastPass.