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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 recently updated its branding with a more modern logo and a uniform color scheme across all its interfaces.

Unfortunately, Dashlane has hiked its premium plan's pricing to $60 per year (from $40) since my last review, a tough pill to swallow as it was already the highest-priced leading password manager. 

As you’ll see in our full Dashlane review, there’s no denying that the company brings more features to the table to justify the price increase. This includes an unlimited VPN service and, at an even higher-priced tier, an identity-theft protection service. Dashlane also has a bulk password changer.

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The question is whether you find enough value in these extras to pay double or triple what you would pay for other very compelling password managers. If you're just looking for a password manager, LastPass is the best choice, whether free or paid, and Keeper is a very attractively priced runner-up.

UPDATED to add Dashlane family plans. This review was originally published June 22, 2020.

Dashlane: Costs and what's covered

Dashlane currently offers three tiers of service: Free, Premium ($60/year), and Premium Plus ($120/year). 

The 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, a password changer, 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 LastPass's, but if you are a DIY type you can also take a look at KeePass.

The Premium tier's price has been hiked to $59.99 per year, up from $39.99. The biggest justification for the bump is 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 new dark-web monitoring feature), file storage up to 1GB, priority support, Yubikey 2FA support, unlimited password sharing and more.

The Premium Plus tier brings an identity-theft protection service to the table. It's a substantial price jump to $119.99 for the year, but the service offers credit monitoring and identity restoration provided by TransUnion, and identity theft insurance of up to $1 million provided by AIG. (It does not give you free credit reports.) 

If you were considering identity-theft protection, an extra $60 is a bargain when stand-alone services can cost hundreds of dollars per year.

Brand-new Dashlane family plans, introduced just as this review was being published, let you cover up to six individuals at group rates.

The Premium family plan is $90 per year and includes all the perks of the individual Premium plan. The same applies to the Premium Plus family plan, which is $180 per year. 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 is compatible with Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge and Mozilla Firefox. Opera and Brave are unofficially supported with extensions on the desktop, and Brave is officially supported on Android.

Minimum system requirements are Mac OS X 10.12 Sierra, Windows 7, iOS 12.2 and Android 6 Marshmallow. Linux and Chrome OS are also supported via the browser extensions, but ID data and Receipts are not available via this method.

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. 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. 

(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 missing from the website. 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.

You can use Apple Touch ID, Windows Hello or Windows Biometrics Framework to log into  the desktop application. 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 suggests this feature may eventually fall off.

LastPass has a similar feature, still "in beta" after several years, 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. 

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.

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.

Dashlane review: Bottom line

Dashlane is an excellent password manager. It is still the most powerful option on the market, but its recent price bump has really hurt the value proposition for the service if you only need a password manager.

For the $60 a year that Dashlane 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. The Premium Plus offer is compelling if you truly do need identity-theft protection as well as a VPN and a password manager.

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