Memorizing multiple passwords can be a pain, but it’s downright dangerous to use the same one for everything, and online privacy is not the place you want to be cutting corners.
With many employees still working remotely, it’s never been more essential to make sure that your online presence is secure and safe from prying eyes.
Unless you want to constantly safeguard a hard-copy list of all your passwords, a password manager app can help you seamlessly oversee and handle all of your login credentials for any online account, and maintain airtight password security. They’re also handy when it comes to autofilling forms and syncing your data across computers, smartphones and more.
A password manager is essentially an encrypted digital vault that stores secure information you use to access apps and accounts on your mobile device, websites and other services. In addition to keeping your identity, credentials and sensitive data safe, the best password managers also have a password generator to create strong, unique passwords and ensure you aren’t using the same password in multiple places.
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All our best password manager picks come in free versions, and all handle hardware authentication through YubiKey. Some of our picks also feature subscription options that let you sync your secure password login information across devices, share credentials with trusted family and friends and get access to secure online storage. And if transparency is important to you, several of our picks are open-source projects.
Best free app
Bitwarden leads the list of the best password managers for 2022, thanks to both its open-source roots and its unbeatable — and unlimited — free version. This lean encryption software can generate, store and automatically fill your passwords across all of your devices and popular browsers with competitive security strength.
Its free version lacks some of the bells and whistles of our other picks, but its premium versions are just as feature-rich. A Bitwarden premium subscription allows you to share passwords, logins, memberships and other items with trusted family and friends, use YubiKey’s multifactor authentication and get 1 GB of encrypted storage. Bitwarden’s free version also offers a one-to-one texting feature called Bitwarden Send which allows you to securely share login information with another person.
If you’re looking for a user-friendly free service with an excellent security reputation, it’s hard to pass up Bitwarden, which earned CNET’s Cheapskate Hall of Fame pick for the best free password manager.
1Password is the best password manager available for all major device platforms, letting you access your accounts and services with one master password.
This nicely designed password manager lacks a free version, but you can check it out for 14 days before signing up. An individual subscription runs $36 a year and comes with 1 GB of document storage and optional two-factor authentication through YubiKey for additional security.
A travel mode lets you remove your 1Password sensitive data from your device when you travel, then restore it with one easy click when you return so that it’s not vulnerable to border checks.
Biometric authentication can be used to access your password vault on Mac and iOS operating systems, you can use Touch ID to unlock 1Password, and on iOS devices you can use Face ID as well. For $60 a year, you can cover a family of five and access password sharing and credit card information among the group with a single password manager app. Each person gets their own password vault, 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 for password sharing to share Wi-Fi connection passwords, for example, or home alarm codes with guests.
Best paid app
The Premium version ($36 a year) of LastPass allows you to share passwords, logins, memberships and other items, use YubiKey’s multifactor authentication and get 1 GB of encrypted storage. The Families plan ($48 a year) gives you six accounts, shared folders and a dashboard for keeping an eye on your accounts’ security.
There is a free version available, but you are limited to either the mobile app or desktop app.
LastPass isn’t flawless: A scary flaw that could have potentially compromised passwords was reported in 2019. The company patched it before it was known to be exploited in the wild, but it was one of several vulnerabilities that have been discovered in LastPass over the years. More recently, privacy and security concerns emerged around LastPass’ Android app when seven web trackers were discovered within the mobile app.
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