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Dashlane password manager review

Dashlane's high prices are worth it only if you need a VPN or identity-theft protection along with a password manager

Dashlane review
(Image: © Dashlane)

Our Verdict

Dashlane is a powerful, attractive and easy-to-use password manager, but its hefty price is tied to extra features you probably don't need.

For

  • Can change hundreds of passwords instantly
  • Intuitive UI across platforms
  • Built-in VPN protection

Against

  • More expensive than other password managers
  • VPN doesn't connect automatically
  • Limited web app functionality
Dashlane specs

Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome OS
Free version: Single device; 50 passwords max
2FA: Yes
Browser plugins: Brave (Android only), Chrome, Edge, Firefox, IE, Safari
Form filling: Yes
Mobile PIN unlock: Yes
Biometric login: Face ID, Touch ID on iOS & macOS, Pixel Face Unlock, some Android & Windows fingerprint readers
Killer feature: Bulk password changer

Dashlane has the most extensive feature set and some of the best design touches of any of the best password managers on the market. The company has updated its branding with a more modern logo and a uniform color scheme across all its interfaces.

However, the price of Dashlane's unlimited plan, Dashlane Premium, has been hiked  $60 per year (from $40) since my last review, a tough pill to swallow as it was already the highest-priced leading password manager. 

In April 2021, Dashlane added an Essentials plan that costs only $36 per year, but that service tier has some stark limitations that we'll get into below. There's really no reason to get Dashlane Essentials when LastPass, Keeper and 1Password offer unfettered plans for the same price.

As you’ll see in our full Dashlane review, there’s no denying that the company brings a lot to the table to justify the price of its Premium plan. This includes an unlimited VPN service and a bulk password changer. 

Until recently, Dashlane also offered an even pricier Premium Plus plan that included   an identity-theft protection service. That has been discontinued, although its existing subscribers can continue to use it.

The question is whether you find enough value in Dashlane Premium's extras to pay nearly double what you would pay for other very compelling password managers. If you're just looking for a password manager, LastPass is the best paid choice, while Keeper is a very attractively priced runner-up and Bitwarden offers the best free plan.

Dashlane: Costs and what's covered

Dashlane currently offers three tiers of service: Free, Essentials and Premium. The Premium Plus plan, which cost $120 per year, is no longer offered to new customers. 

The Dashlane Free tier has become considerably more limited since our last review. You can now store just 50 passwords on a single device and the website interface is mostly inaccessible. 

Other features include form and payment autofill, security alerts, a password generator, limited password sharing, two-factor authentication (2FA), emergency contact access, and secure note storage.

While you still enjoy the same great user interface and experience of the premium tiers, the limitations to the core password-storage functionality make Dashlane's free tier a non-starter. It's hard to recommend a free tier other than Bitwarden's, but if you are a DIY type you can also take a look at KeePass.

The Dashlane Essentials plan ($4 per month or $36 per year) attempts to fill the demand for a simple, cheap, unlimited password manager. The problem is that it's not unlimited. You can use it on only two devices at a time, such as one computer and one smartphone. 

That works if you're a person who regularly uses only two devices. But if you use one computer at home, another computer at work and also have a smartphone, then it's Dashlane Premium for you. 

This limitation makes Dashlane Essentials not much more appealing than LastPass's recently hobbled free tier, which limits use either to an unlimited number of mobile devices or an unlimited number of laptops, desktops and Windows tablets.

The Dashlane Premium ($6.50 per month or $60 per year) tier includes a built-in, unlimited VPN, provided by Hotspot Shield parent company AnchorFree, that can be used on all your devices. That's a great deal if you happen to need a VPN.

Otherwise the Premium features remain mostly as before, which isn't a criticism as Dashlane was already one of the most feature-rich password managers. 

Premium subscribers enjoy unlimited password storage and syncing across all devices, security monitoring (including a dark-web monitoring feature), file storage up to 1GB, priority support, Yubikey 2FA support (in the desktop app only for now), unlimited password sharing and more.

Dashlane's Family plan ($9 per month or $90 per year) let you cover up to six individuals at group rates. (The Premium Plus family plan has been discontinued.)

It includes all the perks of the Premium plan. That's a substantial savings even for a couple with no kids; for a family with teenagers or college-aged children, it's a very good deal.

Dashlane's browser extensions are compatible with Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox. Opera and Brave are unofficially supported with the Chrome extensions on the desktop, and Brave is officially supported on Android.

Minimum system requirements for the Dashlane desktop app are Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra and Windows 7, while the mobile apps require iOS 13.2 and Android 7 Nougat. Linux and Chrome OS are also supported via the browser extensions, but ID data and Receipts are not available via this method.

Dashlane is no longer updating its desktop apps, and will phase them out entirely once all its features (including the ability to set up 2FA) have been ported to the web app. That won't happen until at least June 2021.

For this review, I used Dashlane on 2017 MacBook Pro 15 running Windows 10 and macOS 10.14 Mojave, an iPhone 7 Plus, and a Google Pixel 3. Google Chrome was my primary browser across all platforms but testing on macOS and iOS was also done with Safari.

Dashlane: Setup

Downloading and installing the Dashlane desktop app from Dashlane's website should be your first step, as least for now. The download link is in the upper-right corner of the home page. 

The Dashlane website should recognize your operating system, but if not, it will prompt you with a link during the download. 

One big caveat: While Dashlane's desktop application is great, the company, as mentioned above, plans to end support for the desktop versions after June 2021. All desktop functions are being ported over to the web interface, and users are strongly encouraged to switch to using the web app and browser extensions.

(Image credit: Dashlane)

You will need to create an account with an email address and a master password. This is the one password you will need to remember going forward. Losing it will mean losing all your data stored in Dashlane, so make sure it's memorable, unique and strong.

Dashlane does a good job of guiding you through the setup process and then walks you through some of the major features. If you are a first-time user of a password manager, this walkthrough is really convenient. Keeper does something comparable, but not as thoroughly.  

Next, you can import existing passwords from another password manager or your browser. Dashlane supports direct imports from 1Password, LastPass, PasswordWallet, RoboForm and web browsers, or from a simple CSV file. Dashlane also supports import via the mobile apps, rare among password managers.

If you didn't download the mobile apps during the guided setup process, do so via the Android or iOS app store. To login to the apps, you need to enter the email address associated with your account. 

Then you will receive an email message with a 6-digit code that you must enter within 3 hours. After confirming this code, enter your master password and your data will sync over.

Dashlane on the desktop

There are three ways to use Dashlane on the desktop: the standalone app, your account on the Dashlane website and the browser extension. 

Each offers a slightly different feature set. They maintain a consistent theme so it isn't too jarring switching between them, but I would prefer they stuck closer to the same interface.

Most users will want to use the full desktop app whenever possible, as a number of sections are still missing from the web interface. The website is mostly useless for free users — it only lets you check account settings, and you have to go premium to do anything else. The browser extension is best for quick password lookups or password generation, although it's improving.

You can use Apple Touch ID, Windows Hello or Windows Biometrics Framework to log into the desktop application (and, in the future, into the web interface). Dashlane is also one of the only password managers to use the MacBook Pro TouchBar, which you can customize with a variety of frequently used features.

The desktop app looks much like other password managers' apps. A left-hand column displays most features, with 10 sections divided into three categories. A small search box sits at the top. 

The first category, Vault, has six sections: Passwords, Secure Notes, Personal Info, Payments, IDs and Receipts. The user interface for each has a blue "Add new" button in the upper-left corner and all your items for that section displayed below.

Passwords are presented in either a grid or a list view. You can sort them alphabetically, categorically or by frequency of use. Each item displays the favicon for its associated website.

Hovering your pointer over an item gives you the option to launch or view options including edit, copy password, copy login, share item, view password history or delete. 

At the top of this section next to the "Add new" button, you have Password Changer and Share. Password Changer remains the killer app for Dashlane, as it can change your passwords on hundreds of websites simultaneously.

A full list of supported websites is here. The Dashlane website says Password Changer "is currently available only on Windows, Mac OS X and iOS, and only in the United States, United Kingdom and France," although many of the listed sites are in other countries.

(Image credit: Dashlane)

The number of websites supporting this feature hasn't changed much in a couple of years, and you won't have heard of most of them. Password Changer requires Dashlane to work directly with each website, and the lack of adoption growth suggested this feature may eventually fall off.

However, Dashlane informed us in March 2021 that it was working on a new version of Password Changer that would work on almost all websites, not just those that had agreed to cooperate. Early adopters were being invited to sign up for Dashlane beta testing.

LastPass has a similar feature, permanently stuck "in beta" and no longer being actively developed, that lets you change passwords on about 75 sites with a single click. You have to change those one at a time, but LastPass's list of supported sites has many more familiar names.

In Dashlane's Secure Notes section, you can store general notes along with specifically formatted notes such as bank-account information or an application password. This is the only section other than Passwords that supports sharing.

(Image credit: Dashlane)

The final four sections of the Vault include Personal Info, Payments, IDs and Receipts. The first two are your identifying information and payment methods, both of which can be autofilled on websites. 

Dashlane is also working on a new version of autofill powered by artificial intelligence, a company representative told us in March 2021. Again, interested users can sign up to be beta testers.

Payments displays the basic look and logo of each credit card, a great touch that Dashlane still has to itself. IDs holds personal identification like passport numbers or Social Security numbers, and again picks up the look of many. 

(Image credit: Dashlane)

The Receipts feature is unique to Dashlane among the password managers I tested. It can save receipts you receive to your registered email addresses, or as you check out on a website. You can add receipts manually as well. If you have any interest in tracking your spending, it's a nice extra and works great.

(Image credit: Dashlane)

The next category is Security, which holds the related sections Identity Dashboard (formerly Security Dashboard) and Password Health. The name changed because Dashlane added identity protection.

So while Identity Dashboard still features your Password Health Score at the top, it also shows "Dark Web Monitoring" (available only to paid subscribers). At the bottom is a reminder regarding the features available to Premium Plus subscribers with a link to upgrade or learn more. 

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Dark Web Monitoring performs regular scans for up to five email addresses and notifies you immediately in the event of a breach along with actionable information. It's a nice addition, akin to the paid BreachWatch feature found on Keeper, and another way for Dashlane to justify its price bump.

The Password Health Score gives you an overall score along with tabs identifying compromised, reused or weak passwords. You can also toggle to restrict this to "critical accounts" that may contain sensitive personal data. 

Password Changer may be able to help correct your previous bad habits, but that is dependent on site-specific support, so your mileage will vary.

Contacts and contains two sections, Sharing Center and Emergency. The first displays any items that you have shared or that have been shared with you. You can share any passwords or secure notes with registered Dashlane users and grant them either limited read-only or full joint-ownership access.

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Emergency allows you to identify other registered Dashlane users as Emergency Contacts that can request access to your account if you are unable to do so. You can specify the duration "waiting time" before they can get access. If you can access your account again during the waiting period, you can then deny the request. 

You need the desktop application (and a paid subscription) to use Dashlane's VPN, which runs on Hotspot Shield's server architecture. The VPN isn't very prominent in the interface: On macOS, it's in the menu bar at the top of the screen, and on Windows you need to go to the VPN tab in the app window to enable it.

You can select from servers in more than 20 countries for your VPN access. My one complaint is that you can't set the VPN to connect automatically when you're on an open WiFi network, an incredibly helpful feature that's common among standalone VPNs.

The web version of Dashlane gives you full editing capabilities, but limits functions to Passwords, Secure Notes, Personal Info and Payments. This is enough for general use but feels limited when compared to competitors like Keeper that have full functionality available on the website.

As mentioned previously, the Dashlane browser extension is a much more limited experience, but it covers what you would likely need to access quickly, such as your logins and the password generator in the event that you are creating a new account.

Dashlane mobile apps

The mobile apps for Dashlane offer nearly everything found in the desktop app, which is great for mobile-first users. 

The user interface is slightly different, with Recent Activity as the default landing screen, showing you whatever you have changed or used most recently. It's an odd choice as I don't find this section relevant most of the time, but you are only two taps away from the rest of your content, so this isn't a significant problem.

(Image credit: Dashlane)

Your vault contains every section found on the desktop with the exception of Receipts. You have full access, editing, and sharing functionality. 

Exclusive to the mobile apps is the Inbox Scan, which checks one of your registered email addresses for any accounts created with that email address. While this does an excellent job of dredging up overlooked accounts, it can't obtain the passwords for them automatically. 

You are setting yourself up for a lot of work adding in those passwords manually when you would probably be better served just letting the app pick them up as you go to the sites naturally over time.

Like most password managers, Dashlane lets you set up a PIN to use instead of your master password when unlocking the mobile apps. The iOS version also lets you use Touch ID or Face ID, Face Unlock on Pixel 4 phones, and your fingerprint on newer Android phones.

Support for mobile form filling is now on both iOS and Android. As long as you are on Android 8.0 or iOS 12 or later, you will be able to enjoy form filling without having to use the built-in Dashlane Browser. 

Dashlane's VPN is also supported on the mobile apps, and again, my one complaint is that it doesn't activate automatically if I'm on public Wi-Fi. You can add a dedicated tile for it on the Android home screen, however, making it just a swipe and a tap away.

Overall, I appreciate all the functions available in the Dashlane mobile apps, but they do feel a bit bloated as you scroll through the main menu looking for a feature. The exclusion of Receipts, given everything else that is in the app, is a bit inexplicable.

Dashlane: Security

Like other password managers, Dashlane uses AES-256 bit encryption. Your data is unencrypted only on your device, and only after you have entered your master password. Password data stored on Dashlane's servers is secure even if a hacker gains access to it.

Dashlane offers several two-factor authentication (2FA) options for both free and paid users. (Free users: Make sure you enable two-factor only on a device that already has your data, as enabling 2FA will re-encrypt your account. Otherwise, you might lose access to your data if you enable it on a device with an empty vault.)

You can choose to use 2FA either anytime you log in from a new device or every time that you log into Dashlane, depending on your level of security concern. As noted above, you have to set up 2FA in the desktop application, although it will work in the web app once it's up and running.

Dashlane supports time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) from basically any TOTP service, such as the Authy or Google Authenticator apps. It also supports using an Apple Watch as a second factor. But it does not support sending you a temporary 2FA code via text message, since that method can be hacked in several ways.

When you enable 2FA, Dashlane will provide you with two backups in the event that you lose access to your TOTP solution. The backups can be in the form of either a phone number so that Dashlane can send you a verification code via SMS text message, but that is the less secure option. 

It's safer to print out or write down the unique back-up codes that Dashlane will provide when you enable 2FA; each code is only good for a single use.

Dashlane also supports hardware-based 2FA via U2F-compatible security keys such as Yubikey as long as you're on the Essentials or Premium tiers.

Dashlane review: Bottom line

Dashlane is an excellent password manager. It is still the most powerful option on the market, but the price of the unlimited plan is not a good value proposition for the service if you need only a password manager.

For the $60 a year that Dashlane Premium now charges, you could pay for either Keeper ($35/year) or LastPass ($36/year) and still cover most of the cost of a better VPN service than Dashlane's. 

Paying that same $36 per year for the very limited Dashlane Essentials seems pointless when even the free Bitwarden tier offers unlimited syncing across unlimited devices.

Otherwise, I simply don't think Dashlane provides enough additional value for most users to justify its extra cost.

Updated to add launch of Essentials plan and monthly pricing, plus discontinuation of Premium Plus plan. This review was originally published June 22, 2020.

A self-professed "wearer of wearables," Sean Riley is a Senior Writer for Laptop Mag who has been covering tech for more than a decade. He specializes in covering phones and, of course, wearable tech, but has also written about tablets, VR, laptops, and smart home devices, to name but a few. His articles have also appeared in Tom's Guide, TechTarget, Phandroid, and more.