In this article, we’re going to review a few very popular password managers and help you choose one from the plethora of them available in the market.
There have been some big big announcements coming from the likes of LastPass and Dashlane early this year, which significantly change the way that their products work.
Let us take a look at all of the top password managers to see which one comes out best overall.
If you are looking for the best password manager in 2021, the best password manager for Mac. or the best password manager for PC, then read on.
Now there are a ton of options when it comes to password managers, and it can be completely overwhelming and hard to know where to start, so in this article, I’m gonna run through my top five picks, covering all of their strengths and weaknesses to help you decide which is best for you. Also, make sure to stick around until the end because after we’ve looked at those top five, I’ll also briefly run through some of the other password manager options. Just to cover those off too.
We are going to be looking at LastPass, BitWarden, 1Password, Dashlane, and Keeper, and for each of these products, we’re gonna be covering off:
- ease of use
- any major frustrations
And we’ll also be covering off some of the other password managers at the end of this article.
So, first up, LastPass.
What’s the best password manager in 2021?
LastPass has received a lot of press over its decision to change its free plan into something that basically makes it useless to most people, but more on that in a moment.
In the security department, you do get a 2FA standard, including more advanced biometrics and Yubikey security, which is good stuff. In the paid plans, you get dark web monitoring, which today is just a buzzword for, “well, your passwords have leaked.”
You do also get emergency access which lets you grant somebody else access to your passwords in the event of death or injury, something which you can configure but it kind of also lowers the overall security since LastPass must know the description keys to your data to be able to give other people access to it, again more on that later.
But lastly, a recent report from security researcher Mike Maquettes uncovered that there are SEVEN TACKERS embedded within the LastPass Android app, which shouldn’t really be there. Now, these trackers aren’t doing anything malicious, but they shouldn’t really be there, especially considering you are storing your sensitive information like passwords, bank information, and secure documents. Of these seven trackers, four trackers are from Google, and one of them is a tracker which gathers information for, guess what, MARKETING, gathering information like the type of device you’re using, whether you’re using biometric security, etc.
Now, this isn’t unique to LastPass specifically, but LastPass is definitely the worst affected.
For ease of use and support, we’ll talk about offline access, and you can use LastPass without an Internet connection, however, you need to enable this in the settings before doing so. So, if you are going places without reception, then you’ll be wanting to do that.
You do get the option of adding custom fields, though I did feel that used to be just clunky, and they’re not available in everything like when adding cards, which can be a pain on something like an Amex card where you have like 3 digits on the back plus four digital front or any other related information that you might want to save.
I do like the dark web monitoring service being integrated with a scan through of all of your passwords, picks up email addresses from those passwords, and then suggests monitoring these for any breaches. Though they are just using the same method of a free website haveibeenowned.com where you can sign up and be notified if your email address is breached.
It also has a feature I do quite like where it will automatically change passwords for you without you having to manually log in and change them, very handy if your password is leaked and you need an easy way to change it.
Support-wise, it’s a little frustrating getting to the page where you actually raise the support request, but otherwise, once an issue is raised they come back on it super quick, so that’s positive.
Over in major frustrations, I did run into just a few issues when using LastPass. Firstly, when I logged in, it kept logging me straight back out again in chrome, apparently a known issue, and when I went to the support section in the app, nothing happened. It also kept logging me out even though I was saying I was logged in at the very top.
It was really sluggish to update passwords using the browser, and in general, I really just struggled to get it working properly. It also failed to fill in my credit card information even when going to copy it manually. There are no quick copy buttons like there are in other password managers. Also, minor note when importing my passwords seems to like randomly selecting passwords where it wouldn’t have stored the email address literally like no reason for that to happen. Lastly, in offline mode, you can’t edit anything when you have no Internet connection. So, in summary, not a great experience.
Pricing wise, it comes in at £2.60 or $3 per month; probably has nothing to do with the fact that they just screwed all the people who are using the free plan by restricting it to one device. Probably, really.
In summary for LastPass, I would personally recommend, again it just seems that they have the biggest marketing budget and the recent genius marketing because it kind of is genius to market the heck out. LastPass, with a really strong free product, gets everyone invested into their software but then pulls the rug out from under them by announcing those major changes. Whilst it is genius, not really a nice way to treat your customers. I get it, you know it’s a free product, and developers gotta feed their families somehow, but there are ways to do it, and this wasn’t it. Combine that with the seven built-in trackers, including that marketing tracker and all of the issues around into and it all seems to become clear on what you should be doing next.
Moving on now to 1password.
1password has always been known as the password manager to use on a Mac. This is how I was introduced to it so many years ago. But it is now a very capable password manager across all platforms, including Windows, not getting strange security, and it has all the usual 2FA features, including being able to use a Yubikey for additional security, which is great.
And it also has something on their desktop app, which I regularly use, which is the ability to unlock using the Apple Watch, which is just a really nice touch.
It has no trackers, not one!
1password doesn’t know your decryption keys, and not even 1password themselves can access your data. And this does mean that 1password doesn’t offer an emergency access feature that automatically grants someone else access to your data when you’re dead or severely injured or in other emergency situations. Cause if 1Password doesn’t know your decryption keys, they can’t give someone else access to see your data. This is definitely one of those security versus convenience things. Yes, it may not be as convenient, but it’s also definitely more secure.
1Password has its watchtower feature, which alerts you to password breaches. It will only work in verified browsers and is fully compliant with the likes of GDPR and other industry standards.
Now, finally, a feature that, unfortunately, is only available in the US (lucky people) right now, which is fully built into 1password itself called Privacy Virtual Cards. These act much like any other digital private bank cards where you create a virtual burner card, so to speak, which means you do credit card sign up for a specific service, then if they ever get breached, it doesn’t expose your actual bank details. You could also set spending limits, so you never spend more than you want. All really nice features, and I hope they become available around the world soon.
1Password also regularly has their security and privacy audited, and they share all of the findings on the website for all to view. So from a security perspective, it’s really good.
Massive checkbox for ease of use and tackling the offline access conundrum. First, yes, 1Password does work offline by default with full access to everything. It just won’t sync to other devices, of course, because you have no internet connection. After you’ve got an internet connection, information will fill in quickly and easily. It works across all device types, and I generally don’t have any problems using the products at all.
I guess the only thing if I really wanted to nitpick would be that when searching in the desktop app and I’m in the wrong vault, which basically is a way of splitting passwords into different categories. But when I’m in one of the vaults, I then search, then realize I’m in the wrong vault. Then click the right vault. The search box gets cleared, which means I have to go and type it back in again. Which is a bit of a pain. But like I said, minor niggle and lastly, 1Password can also store and auto-fill the 2FA credentials on other websites, and I actually really like this.
Over to support, I have to hand it to 1Password, their team is very good, they respond within hours, sometimes less, and not days like I’ve seen in other password managers. They are a good community forum and are active on Twitter. Just ticks in all the right places.
Going to major frustrations, I don’t really have any major frustrations with passwords, and personally, it just works on everything, and it’s secure. If I didn’t want to criticize, then I would say perhaps they are too security conscious at times which just means that you won’t get features like password sharing and emergency access because there is no way to do that without sharing your encryption keys, but again, you can’t really argue with security being up to scratch.
Pricing comes in at $2.99 per month.
Overall, 1Password is definitely up there, as one of my top picks, the way they focus on security and how good their support is, and just the overall products kind of works really well.
Next on the list, BitWarden
We’ve been using BitWarden for a considerable amount of time now, and I think it’s one of the best password managers available today. BitWarden does have a great free product. It also has a great paid-for product.
It’s user-friendly, highly secure, and includes everything individuals, teams, and businesses require in a password manager.
They have free plans that include multi-device sync in 2FA and also importing from other password managers, making it easy to test out their system with no upfront costs.
Some other BitWarden highlights include strong AES 256 encryption, password security auditing, password breach monitoring cloud, and even local hosting options. They also have advanced support for YubiKey and Duel with their premium versions.
Another unique feature they have is the advanced custom fields which are available for any vault item type. This allows you to store additional well-structured data on a per-website basis, allowing BitWarden to fill in more than just username, passwords but also unique form elements on the website.
As a business owner, if you’re using their enterprise plan, then you even get extended features such as granular user share permissions, password policy enforcement, user audit logs, and single sign-on. This makes it really easy to roll out in your organization. They also have added a new feature called BitWarden Send. It is a trusted way to securely share information directly with anyone, even if they’re not a BitWarden user. This has been kind of handy to use when you have to send something to clients, and they have not adopted BitWarden yet, but you want to get them something securely. It just makes it really simple to do everything.
Just like LastPass, you can’t edit passwords offline. Mayor may not be an issue for some people. Apart from this, BitWarden is a great product and, for the value, just fantastic.
Now let’s look at Dashlane.
Dashlane is one of the others who made some major announcements in their password manager earlier this year, where they announced that they would be ditching the desktop versions to go browser only around April or June this year because they say it would give you a more reliable performance and a simplified experience. For me, I like having a desktop app, so Dashlane is a bit of a no-go for me. I don’t want yet another tab permanently open 24/7 in my browser, but for those who don’t care about having a browser-based password app, then this could be an option.
Over in security land, Dashlane has four trackers, again why do you need a tracker in there at all? It’s not as bad as LastPass, but they’re not as good as 1Password.
They do have options for 2FA, including Yubikey, so that’s great to see though I wasn’t able to find any information about the independent audits, unlike the likes of 1Password and BitWarden.
Over in ease of use, I’ll be honest, this is a really difficult one for EOU since they have end of life, the desktop app which you can still use today for a short time until later this year, but not all the features have yet been put into the web app. So you do have to use the desktop app or mobile app to get to them though there is also no list of what these features are.
I don’t want to review the desktop app because they’ve already said that’s going, so that seems pointless, but equally, I wanted to find out what features are missing. So I did install it, and then it crashed. Then I tried to import my passwords from 1Password, so I tried to import my passwords in the web browser, but it only accepts CSV, and then it failed to import that even when using their own template on their own website, IT STILL FAILED.
So overall, in terms of ease of use, it’s just not a good time to be reviewing Dashlane and comparing it against the other password managers. Whilst it looks like it has great features, I’ll be honest, I got fed up with trying to get my data imported. I think it’s probably best to come back to this one later this year, once they’ve had a chance to fully convert to the full browser only, as it looks like they’re not quite there yet.
Now, pricing wise it’s currently very, very reasonable as when I signed up for my full account, they gave me a link that gives anybody else six months free access, plus it then gives me six months free access. Does anybody else smell LastPass? I think we’ve been here before. To me, this just sounds like a bit of desperation to get customers to sign up for free, get all their data in, which at that point, as I’m finding out, can get quite tricky to move away from.
So overall thoughts, not quite ready.
Next up, Keeper.
Keeper, for security. Well, Keeper is the only company aside from 1Password that has no trackers in their software. So that’s a great start. There is an emergency access feature for when you are incapacitated, and you can also securely share records with other people. Again, for this convenience of being able to quickly give access to people, there’s always a certain risk of security, but it is always a tradeoff in convenience versus security.
Keeper publishes a lot of security information online and has an active bug bounty program which is all again really great positives. Notable differences here on the other apps and their dark web monitoring is an additional 150 a month, and they also have secure, fast storage and sharing at an additional 70 pence.
Over to ease of use now, and the good news is that offline mode is supported with Keeper, where you can fully edit your passwords whilst being offline, so that is a good thing.
Bad news, I have to say, and this is kind of a major frustration as well, is failing in the ease of use section and the constant spamming to upgrade. I thought that by signing up and paying my own money this time to buy the full license, this would be solved. But no, logging into my web dashboard, I’m presented with the “Get Keeper for your Business” notification below. OK, cool, I thought I’d check my account to make sure I was in the paid-for premium account. So I go to my account settings, bam! Another prompt to upgrade to the family accounts. What about signing in to the iOS app as a fully paid for user? Bam! Another prompt to turn on secure file storage for an additional fee with a pretty unfair “stay unprotected” button. If you want to opt-out, login on another computer, bam another prompt to review the product, genius.
Personally, this kind of repeated prompting just does my head in. I signed up for what I need, so why they feel the need to continually hassle me to upgrade is just beyond my understanding. It feels like they’re either trying to get me to pay more, which they are trying to do, or try to get them more customers, which in turn feels like they’re less interested in making a good experience for me. More interested in their bottom line. If none of that puts you off, then there’s also a prompt to refer a friend, which they’ll pay you for, bam!
Pricing for Keeper Unlimited comes in at £2.49 per month, however, there does seem to be a huge number of discount codes available. But on price specifically, it’s pretty reasonable, and to be honest, I am happy to pay for a product that will secure my data, and though their practice of spamming me with essentially what are ads whilst being a paid subscriber, I can’t argue that they don’t seem to be one of the more security conscious tools that I’ve come across you know, along with the likes of 1password and BitWarden.
With that said, my overall thoughts on Keeper, well, I still actually prefer the likes of 1password and BitWarden given that you pay once and you aren’t continuously bombarded with why you should upgrade again and with security that is just as good as Keeper.
Okay, recommendation and summary time. Before we get into the quick rundown of all the other password managers that I’ve not touched on yet. In my opinion, you kind of can’t really go wrong with any of these as, ultimately, the fact you are looking at a password manager will make a huge difference to those of you who aren’t. When it comes to security, I would weigh in and say that 1Password, BitWarden, and Keeper are really strong contenders here, and if you take price into account, then BitWarden really is a strong contender.
But I’m still personally fond of 1Password, particularly as it has that offline access where I just know that I’ll be in a situation where I have no web access but need to update something, which is something that BitWarden won’t let you do. I also do like its slick UI, how seamlessly it integrates with everything. I use cross-device cross-platform, and I like how they are really focusing on security and customer satisfaction instead of just throwing money at marketing or trying to just constantly force you to upgrade.
LastPass, ah, ah, ah. More like a hard pass. They seem to be focusing more on marketing their privacy, given that they sponsor pretty much every YouTube video I’ve watched lately, and there’s even a marketing tracker in their Android app. Keeper, it is a real shame, I actually liked the product, and it worked well for me. It has that offline mode and no trackers minor frustrations with things like dark web monitoring being an additional cost kind of put me off, but the real kicker for me is just the fact it seems to still even even as a fully paid-up customer continually prompts me to upgrade and pay more when I want to log into something or login, not find my way past prompts which are effectively just pop up ads for their own service.
So, in short, for me, in my opinion, it’s 1Password as the winner, BitWarden so close in second, like a hairline away then maybe Keeper. And joint last place to Dashlane and LastPass, though I think Dashlane will be different once they actually get around to doing their full web-based application.
These are my top five, but what about all the others? Well, I could literally sit here all day and review all the others because there were just so many available. Let’s take a quick look at the other password apps out there.
KeyPass is a 100% free password manager designed for more techie people. So if you want to share passwords with your coworkers in your office or need a very good, very configurable, but simple password requirement, then take a look at this one. Since it says stored locally, then you have less to worry about in terms of security and uptime because it is all in your hands, though, for some people, that’s probably more of a liability than a good option. Not too difficult, but for the majority of people, it is a loss of work when the other apps generally just work the client apps themselves are also mostly written by third parties, and I’m never really that keen on using third-party applications when it comes to sensitive stuff like your passwords and credit card information.
RoboForm is a pretty inexpensive password manager. It is very good at filling out forms and does work with M1 Max. It does include some of the usual features like password sharing, 2FA, but otherwise doesn’t have those additional features like dark web monitoring, emergency access, file sharing, etc., that the other apps do have. But with that said, the price point is super, super low, and cheaper than almost every other password manager out there.
StickyPassword is fairly unique in its offering as it has an option for a lifetime license. You get an offer to save a manatee when subscribing, which is really bizarre. But otherwise, it does also have a good feature set, though I couldn’t actually find any reports of independent audits.
NordPass seems like another strong offering that actually looks like it almost literally copied the 1Password interface, interesting, And then finallyEnPass!
Enpass, which I did briefly look into, and whilst the product itself looks good, I did come across a forum post from 2016, which is still being accessed today as well or as of late 2020, with people commenting on how they won’t commit to full audits or penetration testing stating that they are working on it and where the only audit they did perform identifying them at medium risk with the possibility of recovering the master password from the memory of both Windows and Android apps. Probably not one I would look at, in all honesty.
Thanks for reading. Will see you soon. Bye-bye.