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September 14, 2017

These are the best password managers for protecting your data online

by John_A

One of the best ways to secure yourself online is to use a unique password for each site and service. That makes it hard to remember them all, but you needn’t worry about that with a decent password manager. But which one should you choose? Although there are a lot of good ones out there, we scoured the web and have put together a list of the best password managers available today.

All of them do a good job of storing your passwords, but the best password managers do much more than just that. To come up with our list, we looked for more advanced feature support, like syncing your web-based passwords across devices and changing them with a mere click. Other handy features include allowing automatic sign ins to your favorite sites and granting you improved security in all facets of your data.

What does a password manager do?

Basic password managers have just one function; they save your login information for different sites so you don’t have to. Although you can save your login information in your browser, that could make you more vulnerable to data theft. It’s far better to use a standalone password manager.

They encrypt all your login information and other types of data that you might often hand over to a website, such as your address or credit card information. This allows you to not only keep your personal data secure, but organize the dizzying array of passwords that many of us have to manage.

Many password managers also help you generate unique, complicated passwords that are extremely difficult to crack. Through these two functions, password managers ensure that you have the strongest possible password, and do the hard task of “remembering” them for you. Any password manager you use should, ideally, perform both of these security functions.

Many quality password managers also include password ranking, which tells you which of your passwords are weak and which are strong, and gives you the ability to easily change the puny ones out for something more robust.

The best password managers

LastPass (Free basic version, up to $48 per user, annually)

LastPass is one of the best password managers available, and it’s free so long as you don’t mind getting by without the full suite of premium features. Once you’ve set up your master password, LastPass allows you to import all of your saved login credentials — usernames and passwords — from Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, and Safari. It then allows you to delete all of the information from your computer to keep it secure, prompting you to do little more than remember your super-secure master password.

Other free LastPass features include two-factor authentication, free credit monitoring, multiple identities, and even an auto-fill feature designed to streamline your shopping. LastPass also stores your encrypted information on its cloud servers, meaning you can use LastPass on computers other than your personal PC and easily share passwords with family members. It even comes outfitted with a password generator for creating unique passwords.

Opting for the premium suite also opens up a host of additional authentication options, stellar tech support, and the ability to sync information between your desktop and mobile devices.

While LastPass is very popular and does many things well, we should also remind you that it has experienced security vulnerabilities in the past, and that newer vulnerabilities have also been discovered. LastPass is working hard to stay on top of these vulnerabilities, so we’re keeping it on the list, but its reputation has seen some tarnish lately.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile

Dashlane (free, or $40 annually)

Dashlane’s feature set may not differentiate itself from other software on our roundup, but the program’s streamlined interface certainly does. It’s incredibly intuitive and simple, flanked with two-factor authentication and the ability to change a host of passwords spanning multiple sites with merely a few clicks.

The fact Dashlane’s memory footprint gets smaller with every update is only a plus, as is its ability to securely store pivotal notes and share encrypted passwords with emergency contacts in case you have trouble with your account. The software also allows you to store your passwords locally within an encrypted vault, or automatically sync them across your devices, Its digital wallet grants you a convenient means for tracking and making purchases at various online retailers (even if you don’t have a previous account set up with them).

You can use the software to easily scour your receipts if need be, or, if you’re unfortunate enough to have an account on a site that’s hacked, you can set the software to automatically reset your password to something else without ever having to navigate away from the interface.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

KeePass (free)

If you’re looking for a good middle-of-the-road solution you might try the freemium KeePass, which is open-source and stores your encrypted data locally without ever syncing or uploading your information online. The software uses the highly secure AES and Twofish encryption algorithms, and moreover, is portable enough to throw on a thumb drive and transfer to multiple machines with little hassle. You can also quickly configure it with multiple keys and share access among a host of authorized users, or if you want, capitalize upon its competent password generator to ensure your passwords are as unique and strong as they can be.

Although the official version of KeyPass only supports Windows, cross-platform users can use KeePassX for Linux and Mac OS. There’s also a bevy of mobile incarnations available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. However, its true hallmark lies in its non-existent price tag and its auto-type functionality which works with browsers, system dialogs, applications, and a wealth of other windows you would otherwise have to copy and paste into.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, Linux, Mobile

1Password ($3/month for personal, $5/month family plan)

Another extremely popular and reliable password manager is 1Password. Although the software touts many of the same hallmarks as the aforementioned LastPass — a strong password generator, username and password storage, secure sharing, etc. — it excels when it comes to its intuitive user interface and the built-in “watchtower” service, the latter of which is designed to notify you of ongoing website breaches.

The software’s digital wallet also allows you to securely save everything from your logins and credit card information to sticky notes and network passwords. The developers are so confident in its security, they offered $100,000 as a prize for anyone who could break it.

The one-time purchase allows you to sync everything locally, but you can also use the software to sync your info between computers via Dropbox, iCloud, or another convenient method. Its biggest drawback is the lack of a free version, and the limited syncing options available through the one-time-purchase.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Roboform (free to $20 per year)

Roboform is a very traditional password manager with features that will probably look familiar to you. It generates passwords, saves them, encrypts with AES256 bit encryption, and syncs across multiple devices. So, what makes it worthy of the list? It does all these things very well, with an updated interface that’s great for newcomers and those who may not use the internet as often — older generations in particular may find it more intuitive.

Roboform doesn’t include many extra features beyond the basics, but it does have one fun and noteworthy addition: Bookmark-like logins that automatically fill out forms for you when shopping or logging into new sites. It’s like the autofill functions in Google Chrome, but with more reliability and control.

There is a business option that offers data backup and login share options for $20 per year, which could work well for small, data-driven companies, but otherwise, the upgrade isn’t really necessary.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

Sticky Password (free to $30 per year)

Sticky Password has a particularly strong layout, no matter what device you may be using. Unlike some older interfaces, the design is clean, easy to read, and focused on the specific sites that you often use. It adds some valuable clarity to managing your passwords, especially if you have quite a few of them.

Many of the features here are familiar, including auto form fill, credit card storage, password generation, and syncing across multiple devices. You can backup data into the cloud, and delete your cloud data at any time if you are worried about security, which is a nice measure of control if you’re nervous about these companies handling your most sensitive data.

The updated version of Sticky includes a couple of new features. Notably, it now supports biometric sign-in for the master password sections, which is a welcome feature for any password manager. It also includes Wi-Fi syncing that doesn’t use the cloud, which is a lot safer for your data.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

True Key (free to $20 per year)

True Key is specifically designed for biometric logins, rather than using a master password to protect your password data. That means that it works particularly well on phones, tablets, and laptops that have either fingerprint scanners or facial recognition. It favors fast logins using these features, and if you too favor biometrics, then this is probably the manager to go with (you can also sign in with a password, email, etc. if you need to).

The free version of True Key is somewhat limited: You only get 15 passwords, which essentially restricts you to 15 sites/apps. However, the encryption and tools used to protect data are all top notch, so if you think you can manage a 15 login limit, give it a try.

Download now for:

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

LogMeOnce (Free to $3 per month)

Although LogMeOnce’s homepage doesn’t have the most professional vibe, with its heavy use of stock imagery and an extremely hard sell on why its password manager is better than others, it does have offer unlimited password support and photo logins.

This is the  feature LogMeOnce’s marketing uses to claim you never need to use passwords again. In actuality, it means not typing in a master password, but having your webcam take a picture of you when you login, and then sending it to your phone for authentication.

That’s a nice feature for those concerned about someone else trying to access their account. It’s backed up by LogMeOnce’s Mugshot feature, which takes a picture from a webcam or smartphone camera when a login is failed for whatever reason. The software also collects GPS and IP address information and emails it to the account holder, making it easier to track down someone if they attempt to login to your manager without your knowledge.

Some have reported that these features are a little buggy, and adverts in the free version make it hard to recommend LogMeOnce over some of the others on this list, but it has a unique feature set.

Download now for:

Windows, Android, iOS

Updated 09/08/2017 to confirm pricing, downloads and add LogMeOnce.

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