A password manager relieves the burden of thinking up and
memorizing unique, complex logins—the hallmark of a secure
password. It allows you to safely share those logins with others
when necessary. And because these tools encrypt your login info in
a virtual vault—either locally or in the cloud—and lock it with a
single master password, they protect the passwords themselves. If
you're looking to up your security game, a password manager is the
way to go. Yes, web browsers are starting to offer password
management features, but they're not good enough.
But password managers vary widely in their capabilities and
cost, so we compared several of the most popular. All support
Windows Mac OS, Android, and iOS, as well as the major browsers.
And all will let you sync your data across multiple devices, though
you may have pay extra for the privilege.
Here are our top two picks, followed by tips on what to look for
when shopping for a password manager and links to full reviews of
all the products. And once you've got one all picked out, head over
to our guide on mastering your password manager.
Updated 11/22/21 to include a link to a
2021 study revealing the most common (terrible) passwords.
Best overall password
LastPass ticks all the boxes on our password
manager want list. It makes it a breeze to create unique, complex
passwords; capture and manage login credentials; sync them across
multiple devices; and share them with others you trust. Its
password auditing and updating features let you identify and
eliminate weak or duplicate passwords with just a mouse click or
two. It also stores credit card numbers and other personal data to
autofill web forms when you're making a purchase, signing up for a
service, or paying a bill.
LastPass also supports a range of multi-factor authentication
options for protecting your vault, including app-based
authenticators like Symantec VIP and Google Authenticator, hardware
tokens like YubiKey, and fingerprint readers.
Dashlane is the strongest contender for
LastPass's crown. It has a beautiful interface, is easy to use, and
is stocked with features to help you strengthen your online
security. Chief among these is a stellar security dashboard that
grades your passwords and suggests actions for boosting your score
and your protection. Dashlane is free for a single device, but if
you want syncing across multiple devices you'll need a paid plan.
Previously that meant the Premium plan, which has a $60
price tag—the highest in our roundup. But now Dashlane has an
plan that costs just $3.99 a month, or $2.99 a month with a
year's subscription. The only caveat is that it covers just two
devices, and leaves out dark web monitoring and Dashlane's VPN.
Still, for consumers who have just a PC and a phone, it's a nice
price for this fantastic password manager.
What to look for in
a password manager
At their most basic, password managers capture your username and
password—usually via a browser plugin—when you log in to a website,
and then automatically fill in your credentials when you return to
that site. They store all your passwords in an encrypted database,
often referred to as a vault, which you protect with a single
Of course, most password managers do much more than this and
many extend protection beyond your login credentials to other types
of personal data. We narrowed it down to a few essential features
that we looked for and you should too:
- Password generation: You've been reminded ad
nauseam that the strongest passwords are long, random strings of
characters, and that you should use a different one for each site
you access. That's a tall order. This is what makes password
generation—the ability to create complex passwords out of letters,
numbers, and special characters—an indispensable feature of any
good password manager. The best password managers will also be able
to analyze your existing passwords for weaknesses and upgrade them
with a click.
- Autofill and auto-login: Most password
managers can autofill your login credentials whenever you visit a
site and even log you in automatically. Thus, the master password
is the only one you ever have to enter. This is controversial,
though, as browser autofill has long been a security concern, so
the best managers will also let you toggle off this feature if you
feel the risk outweighs the convenience.
- Secure sharing: Sometimes you need to share a
password with a family member or coworker. A password manager
should let you do so without compromising your security.
- Two-factor authentication: To an enterprising
cybercriminal, your password manager's master password is as
hackable as any other password. Increasingly, password managers
support multi-factor authentication—using a second method such as a
PIN, a fingerprint, or another trusted device for additional
verification—to mitigate this risk. Choose one that does.
- Protection for other personal data: Because of
how frequently we use them online, credit card and bank account
numbers, our addresses, and other personal data can be securely
stored in many password managers and automatically filled into web
forms when we're shopping or registering an account.
No online security measure is 100 percent foolproof, though, as
we were reminded when LastPass, one of the most reputable password
managers, recently scrambled to fix a pair of vulnerabilities that
could have compromised users' passwords and their computers. And
just last month, OneLogin was victim of a breach that
compromised customer data, including the ability to decrypt
Still, most security experts agree that password managers
are still the safest way for people to manage their myriad logins,
and we agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Just choose
your password manager carefully after researching all the options
starting with the guide. We also have a guide to the best free password managers.
All of our reviews
If you're curious to see what other options exist outside our
top picks, we've listed them all below. We've started with six
password managers to kick off our guide, but we'll continue to
evaluate more as time goes on—as well as re-evaluate services we've
Editor's note: Because online services are
often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements
over time, our reviews are subject to change in order to accurately
reflect the current state of the services.
LogMeOnce password manager
True Key by Intel Security