Last week, we asked you to fill us in on your favorite password managers. After combing through your responses, testing out a few new ones, and getting a sense for what other popular picks may be out there, we’ve come up with a list of the five best password managers available.
The majority of reader comments we received praised BitWarden, and a number of you said you migrated to this from LastPass or other applications. After checking out the service ourselves, we have to agree that it’s one of the best password managers out there. Not only is the service available on numerous devices and platforms, but it’s also entirely free and open source.
The app features numerous 2FA security methods and lets you import your password data from other password managers, web browsers, and various apps. BitWarden also supports cloud syncing across all supported platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, almost all popular web browsers, its cloud-based client, and more.
Best of all, BitWarden’s open-source setup means the service is highly transparent about how it stores your password data, which is protected via multiple forms of end-to-end encryption and salted hashing.
The only downside is that BitWarden doesn’t feature a full offline mode, but as LifeHacker reader binaryvisions points out: “an entire sync of your vault occurs when you log in,” so you can technically use BitWarden even if you’re offline as long as you’ve synced your most recent password data.
The second-most mentioned Password manager was KeePass. KeePass is another free, certified open-source option—and you know how much we like open-source options.
As some pointed out, KeePass might not be visually impressive at first glance, but don’t let that deter you. Commenter JoshMC sums it up well:
“I’ll admit it’s not the easiest or prettiest to use compared to password managers with businesses behind them, but once you get over the hump it’s smooth sailing from there.”
Trading the flair of a paid product for the security and transparency of an open-source program feels fine to us—especially when you’re getting an app with lots of features (including a full offline mode that you can use on a desktop or from a thumb drive). While the app’s official version only supports Windows, Mac, and Linux, there are a number of “unofficial” builds for other platforms and devices distributed on the KeePass website. That includes an Android app, Keepass2Android, that can sync with the desktop version.
LastPass (free basic version; $3/mo premium)
Despite a few naysayers, LastPass remains one of the most popular solutions among Lifehacker readers and the greater internet. LastPass’ reliability and user-friendly interface are the most-cited reasons people praise the password-management app. As Lifehacker reader Pictogram says:
“I have been using Lastpass for managing over 700 unique passwords, for almost a decade now. I have never experienced any major issues with it.”
Another reader, Abhimanyu Ghoshal, agrees:
“LastPass makes it easy to migrate from one device to another, and log into all the services I use on my phone. Plus, it’s free to use on as many devices as you like, and I’ve gotten by for years without the premium features.”
Complaints mostly center on LastPass’ pricing (and lingering concerns over a 2015 security breach), but that’s less of an issue now that you can synchronize your passwords across all of your devices using LastPass’ free version—formerly a premium-only feature. Free users can also auto-fill passwords, access a password generator, and store tokens for 2FA authentication.
The $3 per month premium version adds 1GB of encrypted file storage, an emergency access feature for a trusted friend, and additional authentication options (like YubiKeys).
While it may have received fewer votes than the others on this list, 1Password rounds out our picks. Unlike others on our list, 1Password is a premium password manager—no free version is available, only a free 30-day trial.
The personal option is $3 per month and includes unlimited encrypted password storage, 1GB of file storage, 2FA protection, and a “travel mode” for adding extra security to your account while abroad, plus multi-device access across Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and Chrome OS. 1Password is our favorite looking password manager, by far, and its credential-sharing features (for other family members or coworkers who also use 1Password) are robust and easy to use. And we love all the different techniques 1Password uses to show you if your passwords are actually safe, including comparing them against lists of known breaches.
This story was originally published in January 2015 by Alan Henry, and it was updated on 7/5/19 to provide more thorough and current information.