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The best password managers of 2018

Ditch the sticky notes and get peace of mind. Choose a password manager to secure your digital life.

password-manager-promo.jpg
Matt Elliott/CNET

Welcome to CNET's 2018 directory of password managers. We've picked our favorite tools for taming the chaos of all those accounts and passwords.

And let's be honest: "chaos" is an accurate description. Complex passwords are difficult to remember, so many users have defaulted to passwords like "password," "abc123," their pet's name and other hacker-friendly naming conventions.

In a world where password breaches can affect hundreds of millions of users, it's plausible that your passwords may already be floating around the seedier corners of the internet.

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.  

Password managers to the rescue!

A password manager servers many purposes, all of them helpful. It keeps all your passwords under one encrypted (and password-protected) roof. It generates strong passwords for you and automatically inserts them when you log into different sites. It can even store payment information to simplify online shopping.

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Almost all these tools work on the principle that you create a master password for access to your identity vault, and then the password manager fills in individual user IDs and passwords for the sites and apps you use. One benefit of this approach is, because you no longer have to recall the passwords yourself, you can give each site or app a different, complex and hard to remember password.

What's the risk?

All your passwords in one place? What if a hacker gains access to your master password? That would leave all your accounts open to plundering. Likewise, if a hacker manages to breach the central vault of the password management company, it's possible that millions of account credentials could be stolen in a single hack.

There are defenses to both these concerns. Most password managers employ multifactor authentication, so access to your credential vault is granted only with both a correct password and a correct authentication code. That code exists only on a device you own, limiting the ability for someone across the world to gain access to your information.

Master vaults are also usually protected by the vendors by encrypting your password information locally, before it ever leaves your devices. That information is stored, in an encrypted form, on the servers operated by the vendors. In most cases, this is strong enough security.

How we rate them

Even so, some people prefer to store all their passwords locally (meaning only on their devices, not some central server). There are also issues of jurisdiction, where some users don't want their passwords stored in certain countries, in case of governmental intervention. Where possible, we've pointed out which services give you the option of determining how your passwords are stored.

We also give credit for the platforms supported, the browsers supported and whether or not the secure vault acts as a secure wallet, storing and organizing other information like credit cards. (Almost all of them do.) 

As for pricing, nearly every service offers a free trial. We've shared the single-user prices below, but many password managers offer family, team and enterprise plans as well. 

Let's look at some of the top password managers. Check back often, as we'll be updating this listing as these services continue to evolve.


keeper

Keeper 

  • Free Trial
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $25.49 per year (15% savings)

Keeper offers a wide range of supported devices and browsers, along with a variety of strong authentication methods.

It has a software development kit (SDK), enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) and it integrates with Duo for one-tap authentication. It also allows your data to be isolated to specific regions in the world, so access outside those regions is not available (and the data isn't stored in those regions).

Like many of these products, Keeper supports bio-metric login (finger print and face recognition) on mobile. Keeper records can be shared with those who have a paid Keeper account. It picked up points because it allows you to designate a legacy or emergency contact who can have access to your data in the event of an emergency.

Keeper imports from a wide range of other password managers, including 1Password, Dashlane, EnPass and LastPass. It will also import from password stores from Chrome, Opera and Firefox. There is a family plan available, as well as plans for businesses and teams.

See it at Keeper
blur
Screenshot by CNET

Blur 

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $39 per year

Blur is a product that creates instant virtual credit card numbers, manages passwords, provides a dedicated private phone number and more. Blur is the only all-in-one solution to protect your passwords, payments and privacy. Blur is built on an extremely secure Password Manager foundation, with a wide variety of unique online privacy features that have never been combined into a single product in the past.

An earlier version of the product was a browser extension called MaskMe, but it's morphed into a full security product for consumers.

Blur offers both local storage and a cloud-based vault, as well as the usual password capture, autofill and password generator. What makes Blur unique is how it goes beyond the digital wallet concept to help you communicate while also protecting your identity. It allows you to create one-use credit card numbers, so you're never giving your real number away. It also allows you to create a virtual phone number, so if you need to give someone your digits, you can keep your real number private. 

Abine, the company behind Blur, also offers a $129 service called DeleteMe that requests online data brokers remove your personal information from the Internet.

See it at Blur
stickypass

Sticky Password 

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $29.99 per year

Sticky Password is produced by Lamantine Software, named after the French word for manatee, an endangered species of sea creature. And the company puts its money behind its namesake: A portion of the license fee for every copy of Sticky Password sold is donated to the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club.

Although Sticky Password doesn't work on Edge, it does provide support for Chrome, Chromium, Firefox, Thunderbird, IE, Comodo Dragon, Opera, Pale Moon, SeaMonkey and Yandex on Windows; Firefox, Dolphin and UCWeb on Android; Safari on iOS; and Safari and Chrome on Mac. 

A minor ding is that this product does not offer any form of digital wallet. It does, however, have a robust form filling capability, bio-metric support for Touch ID on iOS and Android fingerprint scanning, and the option to keep only local copies of your password or store them in the cloud.  

See it at Sticky Password
passboss

Password Boss 

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows
  • Base price: $29.99 per year
  • SAVE 25 % - Use code SAVE25

Password Boss supports Windows, iOS and Android but does not list a Mac or Linux version. If you need password access across platforms, you might want to look to another tool.

We liked that you can choose what region or regions in the world your password data is stored in, both to manage access speed and to handle any jurisdictional or government privacy concerns you might have.

Passwords created in the native password managers for Chrome, IE, Firefox, Opera and Edge can be imported into Password Boss. It also supports import from 1Password, Dashlane, LastPass and RoboForm.

We were pleased to see that Password Boss offers its full version for free to qualifying 501(c)3 nonprofits

See it at Password Boss
lastpass

LastPass

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Base price: $24 per year

In 2015, LastPass was purchased by LogMeIn, which caused something of an outcry among users. Although the product has remained substantially unchanged after the acquisition, users were upset about a reduction in free features and the doubling of the premium product's price from $12 to $24 a year. However, as you can see from our directory this year, even at $24 a year, LastPass is still less expensive than many of its competitors.

Unlike some of its rivals, LastPass is a cloud-only service. There is no local vault. The product works well inside of browsers that have installed browser extensions. One of LastPass's strongest features is its security challenge. It goes through your entire password database, determines how many accounts have duplicate passwords and which have weak password protection.

The product also allows you to automatically change some passwords without having to do so manually. This allows you to have a constantly changing set of identity information, which removes any value to hackers that older passwords may have. LastPass has its own authentication app and, for some common websites, allows you to simply tap to authorize entrance.

See it at LastPass
dashlane
Screenshot by CNET

Dashlane 

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $39.96 per year

One of the most interesting features of Dashlane is what it calls Site Breach Alerts. The idea is that if any of the sites you access has had a breach, Dashlane will notify you. Of course, this is limited to those sites that let it be known they have a breach, and generally more major sites. Even so, it's a cool feature that will both help you sleep better at night and lose sleep. Security is like that.

Dashlane can import from some other competitors, including 1Password, RoboForm and LastPass. It also offers a mechanism for importing from CSV files.

You can choose to not store any password data on Dashlane's servers (which utilize a patented security architecture), but to do so, you must disable sync, which means you're responsible for managing, backing up and moving your password data across machines. Even so, it's a good option to have.

See it at Dashlane
enpass
Screenshot by CNET

EnPass 

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook
  • $9.99 one time per mobile device

EnPass works on pretty much everything, including BlackBerry devices, Chromebooks, Linux machines and there's even a portable version that lives on a USB stick. It has excellent Windows 10 ($143 at Amazon) support, including an extension for the Edge browser and a Windows Store app.

The pricing and business model for EnPass is appealing. Rather than a monthly fee, you pay a $9.99 one-time fee for each mobile device OS you want to use. The desktop version is free. The product is oriented around local stores of data, rather than a cloud archive. This reduces the hacking and breach footprint substantially. If you want to keep your password archives in sync across devices, the product allows for cloud sync across iCloud, Dropbox, OwnCloud, GoogleDrive, One Drive and Box.

Get deals on EnPass products
logme
Screenshot by CNET

LogmeOnce 

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $12 per year

The first thing to know about LogmeOnce is that its product naming conventions can be confusing. It has a "Premium" version, which is free. It also has Professional and Ultimate versions, for $12 a year and $39 a year respectively. There's also a business version with SSO.

Nomenclatures notwithstanding, LogmeOnce offers a wide range of features, including a photo login option (a form of multifactor authentication). It also has the ability to determine where your data is located, store it locally or store it and sync it via a cloud-sharing service.

LogmeOnce can wipe, remote locate, lock and display messages too. One interesting feature of the mobile version, called LogmeOnce Mugshot, lets it capture a photo of someone trying to break into your phone. For corporate warriors, it provides the option for you to have both a personal data vault and a business data vault for BYOD situations.

Oddly enough, it also has a weather forecast feature included, because, well, why not?

Get deals on LogMeOnce products
robo

RoboForm 

  • Offers trial version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook
  • Base price: $19.95 per year

RoboForm goes back, waaay back. I remember using what was then called AI RoboForm back in 1999 or 2000, before Window XP was on the market. Back then, it was a system tray application that filled forms on native Windows applications. Back then, you really didn't need multifactor authentication because most of the applications requiring passwords existed on your local area network and were not accessible to bad guys on the other side of the planet.

RoboForm has evolved considerably since those early days. Today, RoboForm's cloud storage system, called RoboForm Everywhere, is available for those with paid accounts. Free RoboForm accounts can store passwords locally on your individual computers and mobile devices, but without sync or backup services.

RoboForm has excellent browser integration, including with Edge and Opera. Unfortunately, perhaps because it was a local password manager originally, the company hasn't seemed willing to fully embrace multifactor authentication. 

Get deals on RoboForm products
zoho
Screenshot by CNET

Zoho Vault

  • Offers free version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Safari (Mac), Chrome and Firefox (Mac and Windows)
  • Base price: $12 per year

Zoho Vault is another product in Zoho's extensive office and productivity offerings. The company supports iOS and Android, as well as Chrome, Safari and Firefox browsers. 

The product is really intended for team use, but there is a free version available for individuals. Team use starts at $12 a year per user with no user count minimum. The pro version is $48 a year and the enterprise version, which adds Active Directory and provisioning features, is $84 a year. Both the pro and enterprise versions require you to have a minimum of five users.

We like how Zoho Vault lives in the space between consumer password managers and high-end enterprise-level SSO federated login systems. Zoho Vault is something any small business or departmental administrator can run without the need for dedicated corporate or security professionals on staff. This is a password manager only. There is no digital wallet support.

The company does have 24-hour phone support, but only Monday through Friday. Don't lose your passwords over the weekend. 

Get deals on Zoho products
one

1Password

  • Offers trial version
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $35.88 per year

1Password has been gaining in popularity over the last few years, and for good reason. One of the more interesting features of 1Password is its in-code integration with a large number of mobile apps. Rather than the copy/paste process required with other password managers (in particular on iOS, which is quite fussy about inter-app communication), 1Password is integrated at the code level into a huge number of popular mobile apps.

Another helpful feature is the ability for 1Password to act as an authenticator app, so you don't need to have both a password manager and an app like Google Authenticator or Authy. 1Password doesn't use traditional multifactor authentication (with the exception of fingerprints on iOS and Android). Rather than using an authentication app to add an additional factor of security, 1Password adds a secret key to the encryption key, so no data can be decrypted without that key. That key lives on your devices, so no one who doesn't have your device can gain access.

One big highlight of 1Password is its well-designed "travel mode," which allows you to remove all but a certain subset of your passwords from any vault accessible by any machine traveling with you. This prevents anyone, including law enforcement at border checks, from having access to your complete password vault.

Get deals on 1Password products
true

True Key 

  • Offers free version (15 passwords or fewer)
  • Works on: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Base price: $19.99 per year

Intel's True Key was developed, in part, by the folks who originally created PasswordBox. That service closed in 2015 when Intel acqui-hired the PasswordBox team.

True Key offers a $19.99 per year program, which it says is "unlimited." As with all things we've found that use the word "unlimited," you need to ignore the "un" part. Oddly, for a product thatneeds to store so little actual data in our data-flooded world, True Key limits its unlimited product to 10,000 passwords. If you have more, you're simply out of luck.

Most people won't hit that limit. I have a lot of passwords, and I'm in the 2,000 accounts range. Even so, it's odd seeing a limit on something as data-sparse as a password manager.

In addition to supporting Microsoft's Edge browser on Windows, True Key supports Safari, but only for iOS. If you want to use a Mac, you need to use it with Chrome or Firefox. It also supports native password import from Chrome, Firefox and IE.

True Key offers support for Windows Hello facial recognition on compatible Windows PCs, too.

One limit to the digital wallet is that True Key doesn't support CVV codes (the code on the back of the card) in the wallet. From a pure security point of view, that's a good idea. But it does sort of defeat the purpose of having a way to store all your credit card information for automatic payment and filling in.

On the other hand, it does have a cool credit card scanner that lets you enter your credit card into the tool info by simply letting your mobile device take a picture (a la Apple Pay).

Get deals on True Key products

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