Ditch the sticky notes and get peace of mind. One of our favorite password managers can be your first defense against getting hacked.
For many of us, working remotely has become routine -- and that means securing your online accounts with strong passwords is more essential than ever. But trying to memorize dozens and dozens of passwords can be a challenge, and using the same old password over and over is downright dangerous.
If you find yourself consistently getting locked out of one online account or another because you're drawing a blank when you try to log in, it's time to consider a password manager. Password managers can help you seamlessly oversee and handle all your login credentials. They're also handy for autofilling forms and syncing your data across Windows PCs and Macs, iPhones, iPads, Android phones and more.
A password manager is essentially an encrypted digital vault that stores secure password login 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 manager also has a password generator to create strong, unique passwords and ensure you aren't using the same password in multiple places. With all the recent news of security breaches and identity theft, having a unique password password for each location can go a long way to ensuring that if one site gets hacked, your stolen password can't be used on other sites. You're basically creating your own security feature.
Plus, with a manager, you don't have to remember the various pieces of login information, such as shipping addresses and credit card information. With just one master password, or in some cases a PIN or your fingerprint, you can autofill a form or password field. Some also feature online storage and an encrypted vault for storing documents.
All our best password manager picks come in free versions, which typically let you securely store passwords for one device -- although our pick for the best free manager can currently be used for syncing across multiple devices -- and all handle hardware authentication through YubiKey. Our best password manager 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. We also look at what a password manager is and the basics of how to use one.
Note that these password manager services are independently chosen by our editors. We'll be updating this story periodically as new options become available. In light of our top choice's recent pricing change, we may be reconsidering the order in the near future, and will update this story accordingly.
Best free password manager (pending price change)
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 picks have a free option, but most limit you to just one device if you don't pay up. The free version of LastPass stands out as the best password manager in this category by giving you the ability to store passwords, user login info and credentials and sync all of it wherever you want across either your mobile devices or your browsers. While you can currently view and manage passwords across mobile and desktop devices, as of March 16, you'll have to choose to use the free version for either mobile or desktop.
That means if you choose mobile, you'll be able to access your LastPass account across your phones, tablets or smartwatches, but not on your laptop -- unless you upgrade to Premium, for $36 a year, or Families, for $48 a year.
The Premium version of the password manager also allows you to share passwords, logins, memberships and other items with trusted family and friends, use multifactor authentication through YubiKey and get 1GB of encrypted storage. Meanwhile, the Families plan that gives you six individual accounts, shared folders and a dashboard for managing the family accounts and keeping an eye on your account's security.
No, LastPass isn't flawless: A vulnerability privately reported in September 2019 was a scary flaw that could potentially compromise passwords. But the company patched it before it was known to be exploited in the wild. Read our LastPass review.
Best subscription password manager
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 information private and secure, 1Password is the best password manager for the task, letting you access your accounts and services with one master password. It's available for all major device platforms.
This nicely designed password manager lacks a free version, but you can check it out for 14 days before signing up. (Alas, that's down from the earlier 30-day trial period.) An individual subscription runs $36 a year and comes with 1GB 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 and then restore it with one easy click when you return, so that it's not vulnerable to border checks.
On Macs, 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, sharing passwords, credit cards and anything else among the group with a single password manager app. Each person gets their own 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.