Best Password ManagersBest Password Managers

Almost all websites and applications today require you to create an account, even if you are only going to use the website once. The thing is, you must create a secure password so that it cannot be easily guessed, yet you can remember every password for every app and website you ever created. If you do not remember the password, you will either be locked out indefinitely or will need to click the “Forgot password” button often.

Alternatively, you can use the same simple password everywhere, like “abcd1234”, which makes it easier to remember. Sounds like a good approach, but it is a security expert’s worst nightmare and a hacker’s dream.

Breaching only one of the websites with that password would mean all websites and apps have been compromised, and the chances are that the attacker’s first preference would be using the same password with your email address to log in across all sites. This means that a single breach would ultimately lead to many.

To prevent this, you can create unique and secure passwords for all sites and apps, making them complex enough for anyone to guess. However, unless you have an exceptionally excellent memory, it would be difficult to remember all of them. For this purpose, you can use password managers.

Password managers are software that securely store your credentials for various sites, sometimes offline and sometimes on the cloud, which can be accessed by using a master password, which only you would know.

Most modern password managers now offer services way more than that. They also generate complex passwords, check your information for potential breaches, prompt you when a password needs to be changed, and much more.

There are a ton of password managers available today, and most of them are subscription-based. They offer packages for individuals (usually free with limited functions), families, small businesses, and large enterprises. Many also include browser extensions, while some can also store passwords for applications.

Some people already know the benefits of using password managers, but still end up not using them, since they consider it an overhead. However, that is not true. Although you may need to spend some time setting up a password manager and paying a little for it, it will help you stay secure and worry-free in the long run. You will not be scared of getting locked out, the password manager will provide autofill capabilities, and your mind will be at ease knowing that the passwords are stored inside a secure vault.

If you are looking to start using a password manager or change the current one, then this guide is for you. I have highlighted the top picks of password managers that I believe are worth investing in in 2024 that offer the most security and the most features.

Best Password Managers

NordPass

NordPass web portal 1
NordPass web portal

Pros

  • Supports multiple forms of multi-factor authentication
  • Secure password-sharing and inheritance options
  • Offers clipboard-clearing capabilities
  • Scans for compromised accounts

Cons

  • Inconsistent credential creation process
  • Limited free tier

NordPass is a product from the creators of NordVPN – a highly reputable VPN provider. NordPass is a password manager that not only provides emergency access and multi-factor authentication but also useful security features. It is offered as different variants for personal and enterprise users, with different plans and subscription rates.

That said, the free version offers limited access to a lot of the features, like the Password Health Checker, the Data Breach Scanner, and Emergency Access (for family members).

Other than that, it provides autosave and autofill capabilities, stores passkeys, passwords, and credit card information, and you can attach files with the items to save space on your local hard drive (premium feature). These features are added with the help of the browser extension which NordPass offers.

All-in-all, NordPass is a web-based password manager that can generate complex passwords as needed, provides 24/7 online access from any device, and is a reliable manager that can be used by simply remembering the master password.

Bitwarden

Bitwarden web portal
Bitwarden web portal

Pros

  • Open-source
  • Easy to use
  • Free tier and inexpensive paid plan
  • Supports multi-factor authentication
  • Sharing enabled across all subscription tiers
  • Offers apps for all popular platforms and browsers

Cons

  • Send feature allows insecure password sharing
  • Clunky password capture and replay

Similar to NordPass, Bitwarden offers both paid and free versions to its consumers. It offers similar capabilities to NordPass as well, which includes password and credit card storage, password generator, ability to import and export passwords, share them, and generate reports on exposed, reused, or weak passwords.

However, Bitwarden does not offer a browser extension. Another thing to note is that Bitwarden does not encrypt a password before it can be shared, making it prone to easy access and potential compromise.

Bitwarden is our number 2 pick since it offers similar features to NordPass, however, its user interface is not as friendly and aesthetically appealing.

1Password

1Password web portal
1Password web portal

Pros

  • Excellent tutorial for new users
  • Watchtower alerts for password hygiene
  • Slick and attractive apps for mobile and desktop
  • Intuitive password organization

Cons

  • Lacks free password management tier
  • Limited import options
  • Missing true password inheritance features

1Password is another cloud-based password manager that offers to create separate vaults for different purposes. However, this app does not offer a free version. Instead, you can get 14-day trials for different plans, after which a monthly subscription will need to be purchased.

1Password is famous for its cross-platform compatibility. Because of its apps available across different platforms, including the web, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, 1Password is preferred over other password managers, despite its lack of other functionalities.

1Password does not include a password generator. It does, however, store different information other than passwords, including documents, membership info, passport information, etc.

Passkeys can also be used by 1Password mobile users to log in. Although passkeys are a credentialing technique that isn’t currently widely used on websites, they might be the only solution to a passwordless future.

Dashlane

Dashlane web portal
Dashlane web portal

Pros

  • Smooth password capture and replay
  • Revoke device access from anywhere
  • Secure password sharing
  • Supports multiple forms of multi-factor authentication
  • Includes VPN
  • Scans for compromised accounts
  • Retains full password history

Cons

  • Pricey, with a limited free tier
  • Clunky password inheritance system

Dashlane is another password manager but does not offer a free version. Instead, you get a 30-day trial period. Like all other managers, it also offers multi-factor authentication and other similar features to any password manager, including the ability to authenticate access with passkeys.

One salient feature of Dashlane is its ability to store payment information, as well as other info, such as IDs, notes, etc.

Another use for Dashlane is as an authenticator app. Similar to Google Authenticator, Dashlane Authenticator creates 6-digit one-time use tokens that you may use to authenticate yourself anywhere multi-factor authentication is supported.

An important feature of Dashlane is the activity log. From there, you can see the devices that have been granted access to your Dashlane vault along with their most recent log-in date.

Keeper

Keeper web portal
Keeper web portal

Pros

  • Easy-to-follow tutorial for new subscribers
  • Smooth password capture and replay
  • Well-designed apps and browser extensions
  • Secure password-sharing and inheritance options
  • Supports multiple forms of multi-factor authentication
  • Retains credential and file history

Cons

  • Limited free tier
  • Some desirable features are paid add-ons
  • Stingy encrypted-storage limits

Keeper is a password manager that also offers a browser extension for better operability. It does not have a free version, but you can get a free trial period where all the premium features are available.

Keeper offers an SMS-based multi-factor authentication mechanism and can store information other than passwords, such as credit cards, IDs, etc. It also offers a security breach scan where you will be prompted when one or more of the stored passwords in the vault are compromised and being used across the internet.

Keeper also has a feature called “KeeperDNA,” which is a biometric authentication system. When you require authentication with KeeperDNA, you are prompted with a notification on your smartphone. You may combine biometric authentication with another method on a desktop or mobile device that has a fingerprint reader or a face scanner.

Additionally, Keeper supports NFC authentication, so you can tap one authorized device against another NFC-equipped device to grant authentication.

RoboForm

Roboform web portal
Roboform web portal

Pros

  • Comprehensive web form filling
  • Manages application passwords
  • Updated and modern web vault appearance
  • Syncs across many device types and browsers
  • Generates strong and unique passwords by default

Cons

  • Limited importing from competing products
  • The desktop user interface can be confusing
  • Does not support hardware security keys

Roboform is a comprehensive password manager that offers many features, almost like NordPass. It can generate complex passwords and act as an authenticator app. It comes as a web browser extension and prompts autofill where needed, and a complex password if it detects you need to create one.

Like all other password managers, Roboform Vault can be accessed with a master password, where all your other passwords and login credentials will be saved. It also comes with a desktop application by the name “RoboForm Everywhere.” This app streamlines the different functions of the password manager, making a tree hierarchy for convenient management and navigation.

Moreover, it also offers browser extensions for easy integration, so that all your passwords are backed up and saved automatically when allowed.

Honorary mentions

Other than these password managers, the internet is filled with equally-capable managers that offer similar functions and features. You may also try out the following password managers if the ones mentioned above do not tickle your brain:

These are self-hosted, or offline password managers that will only sync your vault to the cloud if you want them to. To learn the difference between offline and other types of password managers, continue reading below.

Types of password managers

Password Managers Opt
Password Managers Opt

By now, you must already know what password managers are used for and what benefits they offer, but it is also important to know how they work.

We all know that password managers store the passwords. However, each password manager is different, and therefore, can be categorized into the following 3 types:

  • Offline password managers
  • Web/cloud-based password managers
  • Token-based password managers

These categories symbolize how a password manager stores your passwords.

Offline password managers

Pros

  • Enhances security due to limited network connectivity
  • Are normally free for non-commercial users

Cons

  • The password vault can be accessed on a single device physically
  • The passwords are lost with the loss/theft of the device

Locally-installed password managers, or offline password managers are usually standalone apps that are installed on your device. They also store the passwords on the device, whether it is a computer or a phone. The information is not synced over the internet, and therefore, the passwords are usually not transferrable across different platforms.

If you need to use a password from an offline manager on another device, then you will first need to open the app using the master password, see the password physically, and type it in on the other device.

A key benefit of offline password managers is that it is not connected to the network, and therefore, are less prone to getting hacked.

Web/cloud-based password managers

Pros

  • Accessible from all devices, 24/7

Cons

  • Prone to hacks and online threats
  • Needs internet access for password synchronization

As opposed to local password managers, web or cloud-based managers have the vault on the web. This means that they can be accessed from anywhere, as long as the user has the master password and an internet connection. Additionally, since the vault can be accessed, the passwords can be synced with almost any device.

When using web-based managers, your passwords are stored inside the vault on the provider’s servers. This is sometimes a concern for the users since their data is now on someone else’s servers, and thus, possession. If it helps, all reputable password managers have a zero-knowledge policy. This means that they do not have access to your data. Therefore, it is advised always to use reputable password managers with a history of credibility.

That said, most web-based password managers are paid services, but you usually do get a free trial period. Sometimes, they also offer completely free versions but with limited functions and features.

Token-based (passkey) password managers

Pros

  • No passwords are used in the process, hence are less likely to get breached
  • Uses physical hardware for authentication
  • Have no vault, therefore less prone to hacks and data compromisation

Cons

  • Access to websites or apps is lost if the device is lost
  • Requires proprietary and excess hardware; incurs cost.

Stateless password managers are those that issue a token of authentication in exchange for a password. This way, you only use a single password, and the password manager issues a token of authentication, which the website then uses to log you in (provided that it is supported).

In this case, a local hardware component, like a USB flash drive, stores a token that is used for physical authentication to access a website or an app.

Token-based password managers have no vault since a new token is generated and issued every time it is needed. Hence, no passwords are stored, and this reduces the chances of your information being compromised.

Since stateless password managers don’t have databases in the first place, they don’t require device synchronization. However, if a hacker knows the master password and just one account, they can crack token-based passwords.

What to look for in a password manager?

When deciding on a password manager to use, there are many things you should look out for, but some factors often go overlooked.

The first thing to consider is the credibility of the software and its manufacturer. You do not want to use a password manager that is known to have been compromised in the past. LastPass is an example of this unfortunate event. The LastPass user’s data had been reached at the end of 2022, and the credentials for many users were stolen.

Additionally, you should also consider whether you want to store your credentials online or offline. While some password managers offer storing your credentials offline and are only synced if you want them to, others store them on the cloud so you can access them from anywhere, using any device, simply by using the master password.

Some password managers now also offer passkeys – a token that is generated when you grant access to log into a website or app using your device authentication mechanism. In simpler words, it is a passwordless authentication mechanism. Passwordless technology allows you to log in using a one-time password, biometrics, a magic link, or a QR code with an authenticator app from a third party.

If you choose a password manager that supports passkeys, your passwords and the website accounts will be less prone to hacking, and more secure.

Most password managers also come with additional features, like a complex password generator, scanning for compromised passwords, autofill capabilities, storing credit card information, and more. Some password managers even can authorize access to your loved ones in the event of your death.

If you are an IT manager at an enterprise, then you would be interested in knowing that some centralized password managers inform you when a user is using a weak, or compromised password, and when it is time for them to change it.

When looking for your next password manager, keep these features in mind and see what it offers. After taking the software’s credibility into account, you should consider which one offers the most features for the minimal costs. In case you need a password manager for more than one person, pick the plan that best suits your needs.

Benefits of using password managers

Password managers are useful tools that help ensure your security. You may eliminate the need to memorize a complicated, one-of-a-kind password for every account by using a password manager. The password manager can save your passwords, help you create new, unique ones, and even intimate you when it detects that it has been breached or is being used on other websites by different users.

The number one benefit of using a password manager is that you only need to remember one password, which is the master password. If you remember the master password, you will never need to remember another password again. Even if the password manager fails to autofill a password or credit card information on a website, you can log into the manager and fetch the password from there.

The added benefit of having to remember only one password is that you can use super-complex passwords since you do not need to remember them. This means that passwords can be 20 or 30 characters long, full of special characters, and you wouldn’t have a care in the world to remember them, since that is now the job of the password manager.

Most password managers also include password generators. You can input the length of the password that you want to create and often select the type of characters to include, and the password generator will automatically generate a complex, random password of the selected specifications.

Moreover, most password managers store encrypted passwords. this means that they are not in plain text. Instead, passwords are encoded using different standards, like AES-25 or MD5, and then stored. When you move on to access/view the passwords, they are decrypted so that they become usable again.

Password managers offer complete solutions, which means that they offer browser extensions and standalone applications for almost all platforms, including Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, etc. If not so, then you can simply log into the web portal and synchronize the passwords across any device. This gives you the benefit of not only being able to access the passwords stored locally on a single device but can be accessed from anywhere.

With password managers, even if you have disabled autofilling in the browser, it will suggest the correct credentials for the website to be auto-filled. Therefore, you won’t have to type in the complex password each time. Instead, simply click on the password field and the extension/software will automatically suggest them for you.

On top of these features, most password managers offer breach detection and tell you when you are using a password that has previously been leaked or breached. For example, if you are using a common password, like “password123”, then the password manager will prompt you of it and recommend that you change it immediately.

You can also share credentials securely using password managers, as many include the ability to forward them directly to other email addresses that you authorize. Additionally, you may also enable multi-factor authentication for an added layer of security.

To sum up, password managers help you stay worry-free about your credentials, storing them, and remembering them. They also make working across various apps and websites that require an account very convenient, since you no longer need to put in your lengthy email addresses and passwords manually.

Dedicated password managers vs. browser password managers

If you noticed, most modern web browsers already include password managers. However, these are not as advanced, nor do they provide the same features as a dedicated password manager.

In recent times, Google significantly improved Chrome’s password manager , and now can prompt for compromised passwords. However, at the time of writing this post, this is its most advanced capability. It still lacks other features, such as the ability to generate passwords, share them, encrypt them, etc.

Browsers perform a ton of tasks and functionality. Therefore, the companies that create them have their focus divided. In contrast, the manufacturers of dedicated password managers only have one goal; to improve their password management solution. Therefore, it is recommended that you use dedicated password managers instead of browser-native managers.

Conclusion

Password managers may seem like a little overhead that you need to set up and use, but are worth it. They do not only remove the hassle of remembering the passwords but also significantly enhance your online (and offline) security by providing you with the option to use complex passwords that make no words and include special characters.

Moreover, the passwords are safely stored away, and encrypted, so you do not have to worry about them being compromised, as long as you are using a reputable password manager. On top of this, you also get additional features like MFA, password generator, and autofill, which makes your time on the computer, or your smartphone, a breeze.

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Subhan Zafar is an established IT professional with interests in Windows and Server infrastructure testing and research, and is currently working with Itechtics as a research consultant. He has studied Electrical Engineering and is also certified by Huawei (HCNA & HCNP Routing and Switching).

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