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The best password managers for 2020



post-coronavirus has only made it harder for your brain to keep track of all your different passwords, so it's time to consider a password manager already have one for your business. With a password manager, you can check and process the credentials of all your devices, autofill forms in your web browsers, and sync your data between Macs and Windows PCs, iPhones ($ 699 at Apple) iPads ($ 419 on eBay) Android phones and more.

A password manager is essentially an encrypted digital vault that stores the credentials that you use to access apps on mobile devices, websites, and other services. In addition to keeping your identity, login credentials, and sensitive data secure, a password manager can generate strong, unique passwords to ensure that you don't reuse them across all your devices and services. With all the recent news about security breaches and identity theft, using unique passwords can be a big help in ensuring that if a site is hacked, your stolen password cannot be used on other sites.

Read more: The password protection guide (and why you should care)

Plus, with a manager, you don't have to remember different credentials, such as credit card details or shipping addresses. With just one master password ̵

1; or in some cases a PIN or even your fingerprint – you can automatically fill out a form or password field. Some also have online storage and an encrypted vault for storing documents.

All of our best password management choices come in free subscription versions, which usually allow you to securely store passwords for one device (although our pick of the best free manager can be used for cross-device synchronization). Our best password management choices also include subscription options that let you sync your credentials across all your devices, access secure online storage, and share credentials with trusted family and friends. They also all handle hardware verification via YubiKey . And if transparency is important to you, several of our choices are open source projects. We also look at what a password manager is and the basis of its use.

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Note that these services are independently selected by our editors. The current version of the list is largely unchanged from the previous iteration as we haven't seen any new services worth removing our favorites – yet. If and when that changes, we'll update this story accordingly.

Sarah Tew / CNET

  • Offers free version
  • Base price beyond free: $ 36 per year
  • Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge and Opera.

Some of our other choices have a free option, but most limit you to just one device if you don't pay. The free version of LastPass stands out as the best password manager in this category by giving you the ability to store passwords, user credentials and credentials and sync everything wherever you want – on desktop and mobile devices and browsers. You can also share a login item with another person.

For $ 36 per year, you can buy the Premium version of the password manager to share passwords, logins, memberships and other items with trusted family and friends, use multi-factor authentication via YubiKey and get 1 GB encrypted storage.

And with an annual subscription of $ 48, you can sign up for the Family Plan with six individual accounts, shared folders, and a dashboard for managing the family accounts and monitoring your account security.

No, LastPass is not flawless: A privately reported vulnerability in September 2019 was a scary bug that could compromise passwords. But the company fixed it before it was known to be exploited in the wild.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

  • Offers trial version
  • Base price: $ 35.88 per year
  • Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chrome OS , Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and Opera.

If you're looking for a trusted password manager app to keep your login credentials private and secure, 1Password is the best password manager for this task so you can access your accounts and services with one master password. It is available for all major device platforms.

The beautifully designed password manager is missing a free version, but you can check it out for 30 days before signing up. An individual plan costs $ 36 per year and comes with 1 GB of document storage and optional two-factor authentication via Yubikey for added security. A travel mode allows you to delete your 1Password sensitive data from your device when you are traveling and then restore it with one simple click when you return, so it is not vulnerable to border checks.

On Macs, you can use Touch ID to unlock 1Password, and on iOS devices you can also use Face ID. For $ 60 a year, you can cover a family of five, share passwords, credit cards, and everything else with the group with one password management app. Each person gets their own safe, and it's easy to control who you share information with and what they can do with it.

You can also create separate guest accounts to share, for example, Wi-Fi connection passwords or house alarm codes with guests.

Read more: The best web hosting providers

Other free and paid options worth considering

Both LastPass and 1Password are solid, affordable password keepers and in a straw poll of CNET employees, they were about using neck and neck – although the latter may be part of the benefits of the 1Password for Journalism initiative that offers us free service. But if you find that neither of our two recommended password managers work the way you want, a handful of other apps are worth considering. These all have free versions available.


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GitHub

Bitwarden

  • Offers Free Version
  • Base Price Beyond Free: $ 10 per year
  • Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi Brave and Tor Browser.

Bitwarden is a lean, open source encryption software password manager that can generate, store and autofill your passwords for free on all your devices and popular browsers – including Brave and Tor -. It lacks a few bells and whistles from our picks, but if all you're looking for is a service to manage your credentials, it's hard to skip Bitwarden. And you can share all your login details with another person. For $ 10 a year, you can add 1 GB of encrypted file storage. And for $ 12 a year, five family members or friends can share credentials.


  dashlane-logo-white-background.jpg

Dashlane

Dashlane

  • Offers limited free version (50 passwords on one device)
  • Base price beyond free: $ 59.88 per year
  • Works with: Windows, MacOS, Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge and Opera.

Dashlane provides an easy and secure way to manage your passwords and store other login credentials. Just for managing passwords, we like it as much as our choices, but the free Dashlane app limits you to one device and 50 passwords. The $ 60 Premium plan is similar to 1Password and LastPass plans. The $ 120 Premium Plus annual plan adds credit and ID theft control.


  keeper-logo3x

Keeper

Keeper

  • Offers limited free version (unlimited passwords on one device)
  • Base price beyond free: $ 29.99
  • Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad. Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge and Opera.

Keeper is another secure password manager that allows you to manage login credentials on Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS devices. A free version gives you unlimited passwords on one device. The step-up version costs $ 30 per year and allows you to sync passwords across multiple devices. For about $ 60 a year, you can get 10 GB of secure file storage.


KeePassXC

  keepass-512x512

KeePass
  • It's Free
  • Donations Accepted
  • Works with: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, iPhone and iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Palm OS. Internet access plus popular browser extensions. (Except for the official Windows version, KeePass for other platforms are unofficial ports.)

KeePass, another open-source password management software, started on Windows and was ported to other platforms with the same codebase, including macOS, Android and iOS. On the plus side, it's completely free and endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. On the other hand, it's really only for advanced users: the user interface takes a bit of a hassle to get all independently built versions of KeePass working together.


What about NordPass and Norton Password Manager?

There has been a shift in the market for VPN and antivirus software in recent months. Many of the companies behind these software packages extend them to broader software suites. For example: NordVPN now offers NordPass, a dedicated password manager, and Norton now offers a Norton password manager as part of its antivirus and identity theft packages. We haven't specifically reviewed these, if only because they don't seem to have a feature set or pricing option better than any of our preferred options above. If and when that changes, we'll look at them in more detail.

Password Management Basics

Still need more information about what password managers are and why they are better than the alternatives? Read more.

How does a password manager work?

To get started, a password manager registers the username and password you use when you first log in to a website or service. The next time you visit the website, forms will be automatically filled in with your saved user login information. For those websites and services that don't populate automatically, a password manager allows you to copy the password to paste into the password field.

If you are stuck choosing a good password, the manager can generate a strong password for you and make sure that you don't reuse it for all services. And if you're using more than one device, you want a manager available on all of your devices and browsers so you can access your passwords and credentials – including credit card and shipping information – from anywhere via the manager app or browser extension. Some provide secure storage so you can store other items, such as documents or an electronic copy of your passport or will.

Note that many password managers retain the master password that you use to unlock the manager locally and not on a remote server. Or if it's on a server, it's encrypted and not readable by the company.

This ensures that your account remains secure in the event of a data breach. It also means that if you forget your master password, there may be no way to recover your account through the company. That's why a few password managers offer DIY kits to help you recover your account yourself. Worst case scenario, start over with a new account and manually reset your passwords on each specific destination site and account and start over.

Read more: This is how we can finally replace passwords

What makes a secure password?

A good password should consist of a long string of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation, and other non-alphanumeric characters – something others may find difficult to guess, but a cinch for a password manager to keep track of. And despite what you may have heard, once you select a good password or passphrase, you don't really need to change it periodically.

Can I use a web browser to manage my passwords and login information?

You can certainly use Chrome, Safari or Firefox to manage your passwords, addresses and other credentials. You can even set a master password to unlock your credentials in a browser. And while using an online browser's password tool is certainly better than no password keeper at all, you can't easily access your passwords and other login credentials outside the browser or share login credentials with others you trust.

What about iCloud Keychain?

Via iCloud Keychain, you can access your Safari website usernames and passwords, credit card information and Wi-Fi network information from your Mac and iOS devices. It's great if you live in the world of Apple. But if you go out and have a Windows or Android device or use the Chrome or Firefox browser, iCloud keychain is short.

Read more: Google seems to leave passwords for a billion Android devices

David Gewirtz contributed to this story.


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