[Updated Aug. 20, 2018 with higher prices for Dashlane's paid plans. This review was originally published on Dec. 18, 2017.]
Dashlane is one of the most powerful and versatile password managers on the market. The service goes above and beyond password management, with strong form-filling features and the ability to securely store virtually any kind of data.
Features such as Password Changer, which lets you instantly change hundreds of passwords with a single click, are tremendous time savers and help set Dashlane apart from the rest of the pack. The applications are well designed across every platform, with near-feature-parity between the desktop and mobile versions.
The only complaint most will have with Dashlane is the price: At $60 a year, it is the most expensive password manager that we tested. LastPass, which costs only $24 per year, offers nearly the same number of features. But given Dashlane's feature set, its newly interactive web experience, and its recent addition of support for Microsoft Edge, Chrome OS and Linux, it is hard to argue with the value.
Costs and What’s Covered
Dashlane offers both a free version and two premium versions of its service. The Premium plan will cost you $60 a year, and the Premium Plus plam $120. Both paid Dashlane options allow you to create and save an unlimited number of passwords and data to your account, and they offer security monitoring and breach alerts. The free plan restricts you to a single device, and, as part of the July 2018 overhaul, to a maximum of 50 saved credentials. (It had previously been unlimited.)
One odd omission is lack of support for Touch ID on a MacBook Pro, or any biometric support on Windows.
Dashlane Premium adds a number of benefits, including syncing passwords and data across as many devices as you own, backing up your account, unlimited password sharing, priority support and two-factor authentication. In July 2018, it also added an unlimited VPN service and dark-web identity monitoring.
To that, Dashlane Premium Plus, introduced in July 2018, adds identity-protection features, including credit monitoring, identity-restoration assistance and identity-theft insurance. We haven't yet reviewed these newer features.
Dashlane is compatible with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer and, just recently, Microsoft Edge. Minimum system requirements are Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Windows 7, iOS 10 and Android 4.0. Support for Linux (on Firefox and Chrome) and Chrome OS was added in the form of browser extensions with the debut of Dashlane 5 in Nov. 2017.
For this review I used Dashlane on an Apple laptop running Windows 10 and macOS 10.12 Sierra, an iPad Pro 12.9, a Samsung Galaxy S8+, and a Google Pixel. Google Chrome was our primary browser across all platforms, but testing on macOS and iOS was also done with Safari.
The initial Dashlane setup process is best handled by downloading and installing the Dashlane stand-alone application from the company’s website. During installation, the Dashlane extensions will automatically install on every compatible browser. You will then be asked to create a Dashlane account, which simply requires your email address and a master password.
The master password is the one password that you'll have to remember after installing Dashlane. It must include at least eight characters, one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter and one number. (Some password experts say you need at least 12 characters these days.) If you forget your master password, your only option is to wipe the account and start over; as part of its security model, Dashlane will not let you recover or reset the master password.
While it is possible to conduct the initial Dashlane setup on a mobile device, most users should go with the desktop application. This is particularly true if you have been using a browser password saver or another password manager; Dashlane can import existing credentials from Chrome, Safari, Firefox, LastPass, 1Password, PasswordWallet, Roboform or a CSV file.
However, if you do want to get started on mobile, you can always use the import option on the desktop app later. It would be nice if Dashlane automatically categorized imported passwords, as LastPass did, but I had no issues with the import process, and organizing your passwords is a one-time task.
Regardless of which kind of device you set up first, registering additional devices will require you to input a unique security code that Dashlane sends to you via email. If you have turned on two-factor authentication, you'll instead have to input a six-digit code generated by the one-time-password mobile authenticator of your choice (e.g., Authy, Google Authenticator or FreeOTP).
Dashlane on the Desktop
On a computer, you can use Dashlane through the standalone app, through a browser extension or by logging directly into the Dashlane website. (LastPass offers only the latter two options on Windows and Linux.)
The stand-alone application is, naturally, the most feature-rich experience. It’s got an intuitive interface: The nine primary sections of Dashlane are laid out on the left,with the ability to view your data in a grid or list format on the right. Dashlane picks up the icons for most websites when adding credentials, which makes for more pleasant visuals than a grid or list of text and also makes finding things much quicker.
One odd omission is lack of support for Touch ID on a MacBook Pro, or any biometric support on Windows. Dashlane offers the most versatile use of the MacBook Pro's TouchBar among any app that I tested, with the ability to customize the TouchBar as you see fit, but basic support for logging into Dashlane via Touch ID is still absent.
Password Changer is one of the biggest differentiators for Dashlane; it allows you to change most of your online passwords with a single click. This feature requires that Dashlane work with each site to enable the functionality, but at the time of this review, approximately 500 sites were part of Password Changer.
The Security Dashboard provides a complete overview of your password health, with an overall security score and a breakdown showing how many passwords you have that are weak, reused, old or compromised. Together with Password Changer you can use this feature to quickly improve your overall password security.
Secure Notes, as the name suggests, is a space for you to save critical pieces of text — for example, banking information or a software license.
The Wallet section of Dashlane has a number of useful features that help fill out online forms beyond passwords. It has four sections: Personal Info, Payments, IDs and Receipts. These are all fairly self-explanatory and work as expected, but there are a few nice details. Payments and IDs will try to match a service's color scheme or the physical look of the ID that they represent.
For example, a U,S, passport number will appear as a passport, or a Social Security number as a Social Security card. Receipts is an incredibly useful feature for those who need or want to keep track of purchases — it can log purchases automatically during checkout, or you can add them manually later with categorization and notes.
Finally the contacts section of the Dashlane stand-alone application handles the sharing of passwords or notes with other users and your emergency contacts. The former is straightforward, giving you the option to share any of your passwords or notes with other registered Dashlane users. You can let others use just the password, or give them full rights to view, edit and share the password with others.
The emergency contact is for when you are in some way incapacitated and cannot access your account. In such cases, the individuals you predesignate in this section will be able to request access to your account, and if you don’t deny their request in a preselected amount of time, they will be given read-only access to your Dashlane account to handle in your absence. An emergency contact must already be a registered Dashlane user (free or premium) at the time that you select them.
Dashlane prides itself on a 'zero-knowledge' architecture, meaning that even the company can't access any of your data.
The Dashlane browser extension shows you a list of sites for which it's already got a saved credentials, and lets you automatically log into most of those sites. The browser extension also gives you quick access to the customizable password generator, handy if you are signing up for a new site and need a strong password.
The extension gives you some control over how each site is handled. If you would prefer that Dashlane be disabled, or fill in login info but not forms on a given site, that can be selected. You will want to get familiar with signing out of the Dashlane extension if someone else needs to use your computer -- just click on your email address in the lower-left corner and select "Log out."
The final option for Dashlane on the desktop is the web interface. This feature used to be read-only, but thankfully, in Dashlane 5, it has been expanded to include editing of credentials and other items. To be clear, the web interface is still a fairly barebones experience, with only a simple grid or list view of your logins, credit cards and secure notes, and without Password Changer. But in a pinch, it's enough to get the job done until you can access the more robust desktop. mobile or browser apps.
Dashlane Mobile Apps
The mobile apps on Dashlane have virtually all the features found in the stand-alone desktop interface.
Whether on iOS or Android, the apps share a similar design, with easy access to all your Dashlane data and the ability to add or edit data.
The one notable departure from the desktop app is Password Changer. It's not present at all on Android (but Dashlane tells us it will eventually be). On iOS, it is slightly limited — you must select each individual account to be changed, rather than simply selecting all of them. It would be nice to be truly feature-complete on mobile, but considering that doing a near-global change of your passwords isn’t a common activity, this isn’t a significant complaint.
Dashlane partly makes up for that omission with Inbox Security Scan, which scans your email for old accounts you may have forgotten about and reused passwords for. If it finds any, it will add them to your Dashlane account and offer to fix duplicate passwords. But while it works with most major email services on Android, including Gmail, Outlook and Hotmail, it's limited to Gmail on iOS; the default Mail app is off limits.
On iOS, Dashlane can fill data in Safari or Chrome, thanks to the Dashlane extension for iOS. Users can also opt to use the Dashlane Browser, which installs simultaneously alongside the main app.
On Android, the Dashlane app lets you automatically log into third-party apps, but you must use the Dashlane browser if you wish to take advantage of the form-filling capabilities.
Dashlane stores your data on its servers, and on your devices, using the same AES-256 bit encryption as most of the password managers on the market. As previously mentioned, your Master Password is the key to your account; it is not stored in any way by Dashlane, and without it, your encrypted passwords and data on the Dashlane servers are useless to would-be thieves. The company prides itself on this "zero-knowledge" architecture, meaning that even Dashlane can't access any of your data.
Additional security is available in the form of two-factor authentication, which must be activated in the desktop app. You choose whether to require it for all aspects of Dashlane, or simply when registering new devices — it depends on your level of security concern.
Dashlane Premium customers get a few additional options for two-factor authentication, including support for Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) security keys such as the YubiKey. These are a physical devices that you plug into your USB port; they replace a mobile or desktop two-factor-authentication app.
On modern Android and iOS devices, Dashlane supports some biometric logins, including Apple’s new Face ID on the iPhone X. But Android users are limited to fingerprint sensors, so there's no iris scanning for you Samsung owners. Alternatively, you can use a 4-digit PIN to log into the app rather than having to type in your Master Password each time. Much like your Master Password, this PIN cannot be restored or reset, so if you lose it you’ll need to delete and reinstall the app.
For those who'd rather not sync their password data in the cloud, they can stick to the free version of Dashlane, which will store their password "vault" only on their primary device. (It's probably better to do this on a computer than a mobile device.)
There is a way to move or share data among multiple devices by creating backup archives on USB drives, then copying the archives onto other machines — call it "sneaker-sync" — but it's a bit cumbersome.
Dashlane is undeniably the most feature-rich password manager on the market, but at $60 a year for the full cross-device experience, you will indeed be paying a premium for those features. For those who would be well served by some of the more unique offerings from Dashlane, such as Password Changer and the excellent receipt capture, the price will no doubt be worth every penny.
However, for users looking for basic password management, with perhaps not quite as many bells and whistles, LastPass Premium manages to deliver a strong offering at $24. That's barely more than half the yearly price of Dashlane for a similar feature set.