Rather than save the largest nugget of advice for the smashing conclusion of this article, let’s get it out of the way first. If you’re not already doing so, buy and use a password manager immediately.

Okay, you can wait until you read this article so you’ll know which ones are the best, but get the idea? It’s super important! Today’s cyber criminals aren’t minor nuisances, like goldfish nibbling your toes.

These guys and gals are sharks that will take off your foot in one bite. Your best defense against such bad intentions is to create and use world class passwords, which is what the following pieces of software will help you do.

What the Heck is a Password Manager?

We’re aware you might not even be aware (despite the self-explanatory category title) exactly what it is a password manager does. No worries. We’re here to make it all crystal clear.

First, a bit of trivia about what constitutes a good password. Here’s a hint. It shouldn’t include your children’s or pet’s names – in fact, it shouldn’t resemble any word in the English language at all. These are too easy for password-guessing software to crack.

Most online security experts would tell you to use something at least six to eight characters long, though some go as high as 16, and make sure you include capital and lowercase letters and special characters so that it ends up looking something like this: Hgs3@4j55nKX!sl . See how this might be harder to crack than “bobscomputer” would be?

Then the problem becomes that no mind short of Raymond from Rain Man could remember such complex entries for every online property you use that requires a password. That’s where a good password manager comes in handy. The best of these help you create and regularly change your passwords, which are stored in a “lock box” inside the software itself.

Your manager syncs itself across all the devices you use. All you have to do is remember a single password – the one that lets you into the password manager. As you browse, your manager fills in passwords to websites automatically, allowing you to go along your merry way and making you MUCH less vulnerable online.

Why Should You Care What We Say?

At PrivacyAustralia, we’re technical guys who would be doing this stuff even if it didn’t pay so handsomely. A little bit of humor there. Last time we looked, we weren’t rich.

The reality is that it ticks us off when bad people go online and steal or create havoc in the lives of good (or even average) people on. Simply put, cyber criminals suck, and we want to do our best to make it harder on them to do what they do.

The bottom line is we know our business well. We also wholeheartedly believe in the concept of convincing those who spend any appreciable amount of time online to deploy a password manager for gosh sake!

Rather than simply go to each product’s website and regurgitate a bunch of technobabble specs we found, we actually bought and used each password manager on the following list in arriving at our conclusions.

The Evaluation Process

Let’s go deeper into what we specifically look for when comparing password managers. Here are the basics that the best software products we reviewed provide as foundational elements:

  • Secure data in the cloud and on your machine or mobile devices
  • Apply the most effective form of widely-used encryption
  • Come with packages for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS
  • Have free options, but you’ll have to pay a little something for maximum benefit
  • Unlimited installation on multiple devices under one account
  • Unlimited number of passwords

Other notable features we found on some but not all products include data breach alerts and two-factor authentication (this is a good thing – more later). Others go beyond basic password management to include a place to securely store frequently used information like credit cards and personal data. The advantage here is you can safely and quickly fill in stuff that you use a lot when completing forms online.

Oh yeah, that master password we mentioned? None of the products we tested allow you to recover it if you forget, though you are allowed to reset it in some cases. If you’re the sort of person who uses the “forgot my ID” and “forgot my password” buttons more often than you change underwear, there might be some behavior modification in your future. Not to worry. This is a good thing.

On With the Show!

Let’s get right down to it and reveal our picks for the best password managers on the market. By the way, if you’re wondering about that last feature down there in the list – biometric login – it’s really cool. Maybe even James Bond stuff. This is where you can use unique personal identifiers like your voice or fingerprint to log into the software.

#1. Dashlane (Best in Show – err – Overall)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS, watchOS
  • Free Version Limit: One device
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Yep
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Edge
  • Biometric Login: Face ID, Touch ID on iOS, most Android fingerprint readers

Initially released in 2012, Dashlane has gone through some growing pains over the years, and the company’s engineers kept development moving forward by trial and error it seemed. Doesn’t matter now. This product sits atop our list of password manager recommendations as the best overall choice. Why? A few good reasons.

First of all, Dashlane has improved in almost every single area since the last time we looked at it. Not only has it incorporated a serious upgrade in browser support – all the biggies are represented – but it functions equally well as a desktop, cloud, or mobile solution, with a truly marvelous user interface.

You will NOT get lost or confused using Dashlane. At $40/year for the paid version, you might feel a little grumpy about scratching that check. Trust us, the first time you have the capability to change passwords en masse due to a data breach, you’ll be one happy camper.

Pros: Instantly change a whole lot of passwords.
Cons: A little more expensive than others.

#2. LastPass (Pretty Darn Good Too)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS, Windows Phone, watchOS
  • Free Version Limit: Limited password sharing and two-factor authentication
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Yep
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Edge, Maxthon, Opera
  • Biometric Login: Face ID, Touch ID on iOS & macOS, most Android & Windows fingerprint readers

We’re going to say that there’s no more than a gnat’s rump of quality distance between LastPass and Dashlane when it comes to features, ease of configuration, and support. It seems that the LastPass free version comes with fewer features than Dashlane and the paid version is noticeably cheaper at $24 per year.

For those who like life in the cloud, this product requires no downloading or installing; it is fully accessible through a web interface and browser extensions. If you only want to pay $24/year and no more, then LastPass is your choice, and we think you’ll be happy with it. However, if you can pony up the $40/year Dashlane cost, which includes everything LastPass offers and a bit more – ah, screw it – there’s no bad choice between these two.

Pros: Solid design and performance for a great price.
Cons: Some people would prefer the true desktop installation that doesn’t exist.

#3. Keeper (Securitus Maximus)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS, Windows Phone, Kindle, BlackBerry
  • Free Version Limit: Single device
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Yep
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Edge
  • Biometric Login: Face ID, Touch ID on iOS & macOS, Windows Hello, most Android fingerprint readers

Keeper is a fine password manager which has chosen to focus on delivering the highest level of security available. The tradeoff for that peace of mind are a few inconveniences, one of which is a lack of ability to change passwords in bulk. Another is you can’t get into the mobile app by through a simple four-digit pin.

Unless you use some form of biometric login, you’ll have to enter the full master password each time. You have to ask yourself one question. Do you feel secure? Well, do you, punk? Sorry, we drifted into Dirty Harry one-liner world for a second. Back to reality. If security at all costs, or $30 bucks a year, is important to you, Keeper might be your solution.

Pros: Great design and strong security features.
Cons: On the expensive side considering weak form-filling ability, etc

#4. Enpass (If You Like Functional – and Nothing Else)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS, Windows Phone
  • Free Version Limit: 20 items (mobile only)
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Nope
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera
  • Biometric Login: Touch ID on iOS & macOS, Windows Hello, most Android fingerprint readers

Compared to the products reviewed so far, Enpass is a bargain: free for the desktop version and a one-time fee ($9.99) for mobile phone use. Obviously, for such a sweet deal you’re not going to get all the neat features and bells and whistles others might have. In one case – two-factor authentication – you won’t get something considered pretty crucial to robust online security.

As the password manager industry, like many others, continues its mad rush towards cloud storage and subscription plans, Enpass prefers to kick it old school. While a focus on local data storage might cramp the style of those always on the lookout for new technology advancements, anyone leery of putting any personal data online will probably like Enpass. It’s light on features but if all you want is something cheap to manage a few passwords for you, this product might be your answer.

Pros: No ongoing fees.
Cons: Functionally, it’s the equivalent of the LastPass free version.

#5. 1Password (Pass the Apples Only, Please)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
  • Free Version Limit: One mobile device
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Nope
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Edge
  • Biometric Login: Face ID, Touch ID on iOS & macOS, most Android fingerprint readers

1Password began life as an exclusively Apple application, and it shows. Though recent years have seen the company make great strides in upgrading the Windows/Android side of things, the remaining Apple-centric view keeps us from offering a full-hearted endorsement of the product as a password solution for everyone.

You’ll notice why if you use it with anything other than an Apple product. The mobile experience for you will be very light on features and the user interface bizarrely unintuitive.

Considering what we’ve just discussed, the $35.88/year price tag seems a little on the high side. And don’t expect an opportunity to access the service through a freemium model. You do get a 30-day free trial period but, after that, it’s full price all the way, buckaroo. This is not to say 1Password is bad. It just is what it is.

Pros: Travel mode keeps the “man” from seeing your personal info during international travel.
Cons: Expensive at almost $36/year for what you get comparatively.

#6. Zoho Vault (Another No-Frills Solution)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Windows Phone
  • Free Version Limit: No sharing
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Yep
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  • Biometric Login: Touch ID on iOS, most Android fingerprint readers

If you or your company are already a subscriber to the Zoho suite of enterprise tools, you’ll be able to use Zoho Vault as a free add-on service. If it’s a no-frills password manager you seek, this could be a perfect solution. Just know that in a straight up comparison, it doesn’t measure up to our favorites like Dashlane and LastPass. Notable absent features include bulk password change and personal-data form filling.

We don’t have a thing in the world against Zoho Vault. It’s free, and if that’s what you seek, go on about your bad self. The reality is that you get more in the way of features in the LastPass free version. One thing this password manager offers that is unique in its cheapness is the ability for a family of four or fewer to share passwords.

Pros: Entirely free for non-business individuals.
Cons: Has problems with Google logins.

#7. RoboForm (Like RoboCop – Old and Cranky)

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS
  • Free Version Limit: One device
  • Two-Factor Authentication: Yep
  • Browser Plugins: Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Edge, Opera
  • Biometric Login: Face ID, Touch ID on iOS & macOS, most Android & Windows fingerprint readers

RoboForm first came on the scene in 1999. You’d almost need all your fingers and toes to count that high, which makes it practically prehistoric in technological terms. While the premium version is modestly priced at $20/year, this is another case of getting less than our top two recommendations’ free versions.

While it performs credibly in filling in forms and browser and OS support is decent, RoboForm needs a serious overhaul before it will be ready to compete with industry leaders.

Despite our lukewarm recommendation, RoboForm performs the basics up to snuff: unlimited passwords, forms autofill, cloud backup, multiple device syncing, secure storage, and the ability to grant emergency access to another RoboForm user.

Pros: It’s cheap and…uh…it’s cheap.
Cons: If you’re looking for intuitive design for today’s discriminating online surfer, keep looking. You won’t find it here.

To Cloud or Not to Cloud

You might have noticed somewhere back up in this article, we’re not sure where, it was mentioned that one of the products (1Password) offers the option to store passwords locally. Sounds so 1995, right? The funny thing is that there is actually a small security advantage to this scenario.

What it means is that all your data and passwords are stored on each device you use; a third-party like Dropbox allows you to sync across the devices. It’s not the most user-friendly solution, but if you’re hyper-security conscious…

The alternative model, which has been embraced by our favorites Dashlane, LastPass, and a few others, stores data in the cloud using top-of-the-line encryption technology.

Still, no matter how we slice it, there is the reality that a cloud-based service could be penetrated by hackers and your passwords compromised. That isn’t to say that storing them locally means there is no chance of a cyber criminal causing mischief.

When it comes to the internet, absolutely everything has the potential to be vulnerable to attack. At some point you just have to decide whether or not you want to participate in the most influential media platform in all of history.

Our Final Word on the Topic…for Now

We sincerely hope this article wasn’t written in vain – that at least one poor schlub out there in interwebs-land will read it and decide to start using a password manager. These days it’s silly not to.

As the sophistication of malware attacks grows to the point of being able to make your computer unusable until you pay a fee (ransomware), there’s simply no point in messing around with online security. The technology exists to lock down your machine and personal data with truly strong passwords. We’d like to suggest you take advantage of it.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Password Manager 2017
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star