Having one of the best password managers around will make your life a lot easier and more secure. Instead of remembering dozens of passwords, you'll need to have just one unique, long, complex password that can unlock every one of your online accounts.
The password manager remembers your passwords for you and quickly generates new, strong passwords so you'll never have to reuse any. The only password you'll need to remember is the "master" password to the password manager itself.
- The best antivirus software to protect your PC from malware
- Best identity theft protection services: Get help if your data is stolen
- The best VPN services to keep your online business private
All the best password managers secure your data, both on your machine and in the cloud, with the toughest form of encryption in wide usage today. All have software for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.
All can be installed on an unlimited number of devices for a single (usually paid) account and store an unlimited, or nearly unlimited, number of passwords. A couple are entirely free to use, and some others can be used across multiple devices for free.
Most offer a two-factor authentication option for master passwords. But none can recover your master password for you if you forget it, although some let you reset that password to something else.
While most web browsers now remember passwords for you, we wouldn't recommend using one to store your most sensitive passwords. A lot of malware is designed to steal passwords from browsers.
Furthermore, you're limited to using only one browser with this method. A stand-alone password manager works on all your browsers and all your devices.
Likewise, Apple's Keychain works well as a password manager if you use only Apple devices that belong to you. You'll generally have a tough time getting it to work on Windows, although Apple recently released a Chrome Keychain extension that's platform-agnostic.
What are the best password managers?
We extensively tested several services, focusing on user experience, platform support, security and overall performance. We think the best password manager is LastPass for its ease of use, convenience, security and price.
LastPass has the best free tier of any password manager. It includes unlimited syncing across all your devices, autofilling and basic two-factor authentication (2FA). This is all most users need, and they won't have to pay a dime — until March 16, 2021, that is. On that date, LastPass Free will no longer sync all a user's devices.
LastPass's paid tier adds encrypted online storage, advanced 2FA, dark-web monitoring of your accounts and emergency access for your friends and loved ones. At $36 per year, it's not expensive, and the family plan covers up to six people for $48 per year.
Keeper is a close runner-up for best password manager. Its free tier won't let you sync your devices, but its inexpensive ($35/year) premium tier is a close match for LastPass. Keeper also has a tight focus on user privacy and security.
Our previous top pick, Dashlane, has a great desktop application and can change hundreds of your passwords at once. But Dashlane's free tier is very limited and its paid plan is pricey at $60/year.
1Password ($36/year), a longtime favorite of Mac users, has no free tier, but it's a strong contender if you live an Apple lifestyle. Windows and Android users who travel a lot should consider 1Password for its unique Travel Mode, which can temporarily delete stored passwords to protect them from snoopy border guards.
The best password managers you can buy today
LastPass is our choice for best password manager because of its ease of use, its support for all major platforms, its wide range of features and its excellent free tier.
The free version of LastPass syncs across an unlimited number of devices (for now) and has nearly as many features as the paid version, such as a password generator, unlimited passwords and secure storage. It may be all the password manager you need.
The paid version adds support for physical two-factor-authentication keys, provides 1GB of online file storage and dark-web monitoring of your accounts and gives you access to premium tech support.
The paid version's yearly price has gone from $12 to $36 in the past few years, but it's still fairly inexpensive. After March 16, 2021, you'll need it to sync data between computers and mobile devices.
You don't need to install an application on your computer to use LastPass. Instead, the software can live entirely in browser extensions and in the full-featured web interface.
There are desktop applications for Windows and Mac, with some limits. Meanwhile, the local-network-only LastPass Pocket option for Windows and Linux has been discontinued, as has password filling for Windows applications.
Read our full LastPass review.
Keeper ($27.99 per year for Tom's Guide readers) is fast and full-featured, has a robust web interface, stores files and documents of any kind, offers perhaps the best security of any password manager and has a premium service cheaper than both Dashlane and LastPass. Its free tier gives you everything except syncing among devices.
The trade-off for that enhanced security is a bit of inconvenience. Keeper chooses not to have a bulk password changer and it won't let you create a PIN to quickly access the mobile app. If you have an older phone that can't read your fingerprint or your face, you'll have to enter the full master password every time.
For an extra $30 per year, Keeper monitors the internet for unauthorized use of your personal data. It also offers a secure messaging service; you can get both plus the premium password manager and 10GB of secure cloud storage for $85 per year.
Read our full Keeper review.
Dashlane matches LastPass in platform support and has better desktop software. Its killer feature remains the bulk password changer that can reset hundreds of passwords at once, although the sites that support it aren't the best-known.
In January 2021, however, Dashlane announced that it would be phasing out its desktop applications, like by the middle of the year. It encourages all users to switch to the browser extensions.
The password manager is well designed, easy to use and excellent at filling out your personal information in online forms. A scanner goes through your email inbox to find online accounts you may have forgotten about.
Dashlane's drawback is its high price. Its Premium plan is $60 per year, while Dashlane's free plan is limited to 50 sets of credentials and won't let you sync among devices.
On the upside, the Premium plan has dark-web monitoring and unlimited VPN service. The Premium Plus plan ($120 per year) adds credit monitoring, identity-restoration assistance and identity-theft insurance at bargain rates. All together, these non-password-management features may justify the high prices.
Read our full Dashlane review.
1Password provides a better experience on Mac and iOS users than on Android or Windows users, but the design and user interface seem outdated on all the desktop and mobile apps.
However, 1Password's browser extensions for Brave, Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Safari, dubbed 1Password X, are great. They improve upon the desktop experience and work directly with web browsers instead of operating systems. They also extend 1Password to Chromebook and Linux users, although a beta version of a 1Password Linux application recently became available.
1Password's killer feature is a Travel Mode that deletes sensitive data from your devices (you'll get it back later) so that snooping border-control agents can't find it. 1Password also has great form-filling abilities and true two-factor authentication.
1Password asks new users to sign up for a $36 yearly cloud subscription, although for $65, Mac users can buy the older stand-alone application that lets them sync devices locally. Alas, the limited free version of 1Password has been discontinued.
Read our full 1Password review.
RoboForm has been around since 1999, but its recently overhauled web interface and mobile apps are modern and responsive. The desktop app still feels a bit clunky, yet retains RoboForm's famously excellent form-filling.
RoboForm offers quite a few features, such as password sharing, two-factor authentication and a password generator. Their functionality is a bit limited compared to some other password managers, but they'll do the job.
The free tier works well and includes most RoboForm features. However, it won't sync across multiple devices. At a list price of $24 per year (plus a 30% discount for Tom's Guide readers), RoboForm's premium version is cheaper than almost every other password manager, and may be just the thing for someone seeking the basics at a budget price.
Read our full RoboForm review.
Blur is a privacy-protection service with a password manager tacked on. It's fine as a browser-based desktop password manager, but it's a bit expensive compared to LastPass, Keeper or 1Password. And its mobile apps are out-of-date and hard to use.
What Blur excels at is keeping your data private. It offers one-time-use credit-card numbers for online purchases, different email addresses for every online service you sign up for, and even a second phone number for when you don't want to reveal your real one.
You get all that for $39 per year with Blur's basic premium plan, although you have to pay a small fee for every one-time-use credit number. Those fees disappear with the $99 unlimited premium plan. (Each paid plan can be tried free for 30 days.) The free tier is pretty bare-bones, with few privacy features and no syncing across devices.
If you just want a good password manager, there are better and cheaper options. But if online privacy is your chief concern, then Blur is definitely worth considering.
Read our full Blur review.
KeePass may be the most powerful and customizable password manager around, and it's entirely free. But you'll have to put a lot of the pieces together yourself.
The core KeePass desktop application is written for Windows and runs on Mac or Linux with a bit of tweaking. Syncing among devices is up to you: You can use Dropbox, OneDrive or similar online accounts, or you can share files on your local home network.
Likewise, you can choose among several third-party apps for Android, iOS, Chrome OS or other platforms, as well as third-party browser extensions. These daunting tasks are made easier by more than 100 plug-ins and extensions that bolt onto KeePass.
There is definitely a bit of a learning curve to KeePass, and the average user may want to stick to one of the easier-to-use password managers. It's best for those who are technically minded and enjoy a bit of a challenge.
Read our full KeePass review.
Other password managers
We aren't able to review every worthwhile password manager every year. Following are a couple that are well worth considering even if we reviewed them some time ago, plus one that we've reviewed again recently and found that we can't quite recommend.
Enpass has strong, unlimited free desktop applications for Windows, Mac and Linux, but its free mobile apps for Android and iOS are limited to 25 passwords.
Unlimited coverage on all devices costs $15.99 for 6 months, $23.99 for a year or $55.99 for a one-time lifetime purchase.
Enpass handles the basics well, but you'll have to sync your own devices via Dropbox, OneDrive or a similar service, as Enpass doesn't offer any cloud-syncing of its own. (Some users might see that as a security advantage.)
The Enpass desktop interface is a bit spare, but functional; the mobile apps are sleek. All handle biometric logins to some extent.
Enpass doesn't advertise a local-sync feature, but you could create one with USB drives or a bit of network sharing. That might make the service ideal for users who are wary of putting their data online. Overall, Enpass belongs on our best password managers list, but it's not our top pick.
Read our full Enpass review.
Zoho Vault is part of a larger suite of paid enterprise tools, but the company makes its password manager free for individual personal use. Group plans that can be used by families start at $12 per user, per year.
You won't get consumer-friendly features such as personal-data form-filling or a bulk password changer with Zoho Vault, but all of the essentials are in place and work smoothly.
Zoho Vault does the password syncing for you using its own servers, and there's no fee to sync all your desktop, laptop and mobile devices.
The only drawbacks are that Zoho Vault sometimes tripped over Google's two-page logins in our testing (Zoho representatives tell us that's been fixed) and that the free version of LastPass does even more.
Read our full Zoho Vault review.
True Key was one of the most impressive and futuristic password managers of 2015, with an appealing, user-friendly interface, strong support for biometric logins and multi-factor authentication.
The problem is that True Key has barely been updated since then, and other password managers have passed it by. Even its $20 yearly subscription price hasn't changed.
The features True Key does have, including note-taking and ID record-keeping, work well, although its Mac and Windows desktop apps have been replaced with browser interfaces. The mobile apps do a good job.
Unfortunately, the free tier is next to useless, as it permits only 15 password entries, and True Key's developers never seem to have gotten around to adding form-filling.
True Key is often bundled with McAfee antivirus software, and if you get it that way, it's perfectly fine to use. But it's not worth paying for when the free version of LastPass beats it by a mile.
Read our full True Key review.
How to choose the best password manager for you
Most of these password managers have the same essential functions. But things differ when you get to their extra features.
Some of these password managers, such as Dashlane, 1Password and Keeper, alert you to the latest data breaches, sometimes for an extra price. Many offer to save your personal details, credit-card numbers and other frequently used information so that they can quickly fill out online forms for you. (It's safer than letting retail websites save your credit-card information.)
1Password's Mac and iOS apps have generally been kept more up-to-date than in its Android and Windows applications. It may be the best choice if you use exclusively Apple devices, but the other password managers work just fine across all platforms.
The biggest decision to make is whether you want your passwords to be stored locally on your own computers and mobile devices, or in the cloud on someone else's servers. There are pros and cons to each approach.
Cloud vs. local management
1Password gives you an option to store and sync your "vault" of passwords and other sensitive information locally (in other words, only on your own devices) without using the service's cloud servers. (LastPass has ended its Pocket option that did so too.)
For KeePass, local sync is the default solution, but setting up your Dropbox, iCloud or other account to sync online is not hard. The third-party cloud-account option is standard for Enpass, although it plans to add a local-sync feature.
There's a security advantage to syncing your passwords locally because none of the data needs to reach the internet. If you want to maintain total control, this is the way to go.
The downside is that it can be a hassle to synchronize the passwords on all of your devices. Some services let you do so over a local network, such as a Wi-Fi network. You could also put the password vault on a USB stick and walk it from one computer to another.
Far more convenient are cloud-based password managers. These services keep encrypted copies of your vault on their own servers, ensure that all your devices are always synced and encrypt the transmissions between your devices and their servers.
The risk, though small, is that one of the cloud-based services could be breached and your passwords released out into the wild. (LastPass has had a few documented security issues, all of which were quickly fixed, without losing any passwords.)
If a password manager is doing its job right, it's storing all your passwords in encrypted format, and storing your master password only as a "hash" that's the result of an irreversible mathematical process.
Whether it's local or cloud-synced, a password manager puts all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, unless you use more than one password manager. But for most people, the demonstrable security benefits of using a password manager far outweigh the disadvantages.