Dashlane Password Manager Review

Dashlane's engineers say their software can save users an average of 50 hours per year in filling out online forms, and that seems like a fair estimate. This multi-faceted password manager stores not only usernames and passwords, but also financial information, IDs and emergency contacts.

Both the desktop and mobile versions of Dashlane are vibrant, fun and straightforward to use, and the software has a truly remarkable feature that lets you change passwords on hundreds of websites at once. The only drawbacks to Dashlane are its relatively high subscription price of $40 for the paid version; the stripped-down, read-only web interface; and lack of support for lesser-used platforms.

Costs and What's Covered

Dashlane offers a free version and a premium version, which costs $40 per year. Both options give you unlimited password storage and a digital wallet, but the free version works on only one device. If you want to synchronize your data across unlimited devices, as well as have automatic backups and remote (i.e., web) access to your passwords, you'll need Dashlane Premium.

Dashlane has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The program's minimum system requirements are Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Windows XP, iOS 8 and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. (There's a Dashlane web page that has more compatibility details.) 

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Dashlane is not yet compatible with the Microsoft Edge browser, and, unfortunately, is not available for Linux or Windows Phone.

For this review, we used Dashlane on laptops running Windows 8 and Windows 10, an iPad Mini tablet and two Android smartphones — a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a OnePlus One. Google Chrome was our primary browser we used on Windows and Android; on iOS, we defaulted to Safari.

MORE: How to Create and Remember Super-Secure Passwords

Setup

To begin using Dashlane on the desktop, you must first download the stand-alone program from the company website (www.dashlane.com). Once the program is installed and opened, your browsers will restart with the Dashlane extension.

When you set up your Dashlane account, you'll be required to create a strong master password that contains eight or more characters with at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter, one symbol and one numeral. (Dashlane gives you the option of viewing the master password as you type it, which helps a lot.)

This is the only password you will be asked to remember. Don't forget it, because there's no way to recover it, or even to reset it. Some password managers let you reset your password if you provide a second form of identity verification. But with Dashlane, you'll have to wipe your account and start over.

If you already use a browser-supported password manager — such as LastPass, 1Password, RoboForm, PasswordWallet or KeePass — you can easily export any saved information to Dashlane. You can also import passwords directly from Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

It was similarly easy to install and set up the mobile apps. Dashlane forced us to use two-factor authentication right away; it wouldn't authorize our phone without the entry of a six-digit code sent to the registered account's email address.

The security behind Dashlane is similar to that of other password managers. All of your personal data, including your master password, is encrypted with AES-256, one of the strongest encryption standards in common use.

Password Changer lets you change any or all of your saved passwords instantly.

Two-factor authentication, which must be enabled from the desktop app, is available by installing mobile apps from other providers such as Authy, Google Authenticator or FreeOTP.  Premium users can also use a Universal Second Factor-supported physical authentication device such as a YubiKey. We were impressed that the Dashlane mobile app itself forced us to use two-factor authentication to register a device.

Dashlane on the Desktop

Dashlane is accessible either through its stand-alone desktop application, or through the icon in your browser. The desktop application is fairly intuitive and allows you to save and organize a lot of different information.

If someone else is using your computer, you can click on Dashlane's impala icon to log out of your accounts. None of the other user's information will be saved, and other users will not be accidentally auto-logged in to any of your accounts.

If you forget to log out, that's fine too; Dashlane always asks before logging you into a website or saving login information. When asked, you can choose to "save," "not save," or "not save and don't ask again" for each website you visit.

However, we have to take issue with Dashlane's primitive, read-only web interface. Password managers such as LastPass and Keeper have full-featured web interfaces that let you see your vaults from anywhere. With Dashlane, you have to rely on the devices on which you've already installed the applications.

Dashlane Mobile App

The Dashlane mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices, and we were pleased to see that we could access all of the same features as in the desktop application. When we logged into new websites on our smartphones, the app synced the login credentials so that they were available on our desktop browsers as well.

Every time you set up Dashlane on a new device, you must sign in with your master password. A security code is then sent to your registered email address to verify your identity and complete the registration of your device.

We have to take issue with Dashlane's primitive, read-only web interface.

On a new smartphone or tablet, you'll be prompted to create a 4-digit PIN for the Dashlane app. That way, you won't need to enter the master password every time you want to use the app. That PIN is as important as the master password — there's no way to recover it if you forget it.

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Like many password managers, Dashlane builds a secure browser right into the Android and iOS apps. Fingerprint login is available on devices that have fingerprint readers.

Overall Performance

Dashlane's truly remarkable, and so far unique, feature is Password Changer, which lets you change any, or all, of your saved passwords instantly from the Windows, Mac or iOS applications. (Android support is on the way.) It does so by logging into websites in the background, changing each password to something strong and random, and then storing the new passwords.

Password Changer is supported by hundreds of websites — there's a full list at Dashlane — and it even walks you through two-factor authentication if a site requires it.

You'll know when to use Password Changer, because Dashlane's Security Dashboard, available in the desktop application, keeps track of data breaches and tells you when one or more of your accounts may be compromised.

Security Dashboard also tells you which of your passwords are strong, and which ones should change. You can either change weak passwords yourself or let Dashlane randomly generate new ones for you.

The desktop application, the mobile app and even the Dashlane website have password generators that let you set parameters such as length and types of characters used. Dashlane adds a "pronounceable" parameter that strips out punctuation marks.

The other great feature is the Wallet, which fills out online forms at the click of a button. Once you give Dashlane your personal information — name, birthdate, address, phone number and email address — you'll never need to type that information again, on any website, as long as you are signed into Dashlane.

Premium account holders get automatic, encrypted cloud backups of their account information, and Wallet also holds credit cards, receipts and information from IDs such as drivers' licenses and passports.

MORE: How to View and Manage Saved Passwords in Edge Browser

When storing a website's login information with Dashlane for the first time, you can either type the website, login and password details directly into Dashlane, or log into the website you want to add. When you log in to a website for the first time, Dashlane will ask if you'd like to save the login information.

Bottom Line

Dashlane offers great, sometimes unique features, including Password Changer and a top-notch form filler. The free edition offers both of those, but Dashlane Premium's $40 yearly fee for multiple devices is among the highest we've seen for a password manager. By contrast, LastPass Premium is $12 per year, and it edged out Dashlane for our Editor's Choice due to its cheaper price and because it has a full-featured web interface that lets users manage their vaults from anywhere.

The peace of mind that Dashlane can instantly provide with Password Changer, however, may be worth the extra cost and the inconvenience of a read-only web interface. The ability to instantly change all your passwords as soon as Dashlane informs you of a data breach will greatly reduce your worries about your sensitive data being stolen.

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