The Best Password Managers for 2021

If you use weak passwords (or the same one everywhere), you are only making it easier for someone to compromise all your accounts. Start using one of our top-rated password managers to help create a unique and strong password for every website.

Updated July 7, 2021

Our 12 Top Picks From 26 Products Reviewed

Nearly every website you visit insists you create a user account and think up a password, from dating apps to hyper-secure banking sites. The human memory can't keep up with dozens and dozens of these. Some folks get the bright idea to use the simplest possible passwords, things that are easy to remember, like "123456789" or "password." Others memorize one superbly random password and use it for everything. Either path is likely to make you the latest victim of identity theft.

Don't be like them—use a password manager. And use all of a password manager's features correctly. With a password manager, you don't have to remember that strong, unique password for every website. The password manager stores them for you and even helps you generate new, random ones. That's great, because, for many people, forgetting a password is a cause for panic.

We've tested and analyzed dozens, so you can pick the password manager that best fits your needs. Not happy with your initial choice? Don't worry. Most services allow you to export your saved data or import from other products, easing the process of switching password managers.

All of the products in this roundup cost money (though you can use some of them for free if you accept certain limitations). If you don't want to spend money and don't want limitations, don't worry. We've rounded up the best free password managers in a separate article. Most of the free tools lack the most advanced features, but they get the job done. We don't include any password managers in that roundup that either restrict the number of passwords you can save or inhibit cross-device syncing. In light of LastPass's upcoming syncing restrictions for free users, we have removed it from that roundup. If you are considering leaving LastPass because of this change, check out our top LastPass alternatives.

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Secure Your Passwords on Every Platform

When you sign up for a password manager, one of the first things you need to do is create a master password for your account. Your master password is used to encrypt the contents of your password vault, so you should make it something difficult for anyone else to guess or find out. However, it can't be so random that you forget it; your master password is likely unrecoverable if you do. Read our tips on creating secure, complicated passwords for guidance.

As an additional precaution, you should set up two-factor authentication to secure your password manager account, be it biometric, SMS-based, or via time-based one-time passwords (TOTPs) stored in an authenticator app. The best password managers support authentication via U2F- or OTP-based hardware keys such as from YubiKey and Titan Security.

Before you commit to any password manager, you need to make sure it supports each device platform you use and doesn't prevent you from syncing your passwords across all of your devices. Although support for Windows and macOS platforms is a given, several password managers now offer native Linux apps, too. The best password managers have browser extensions for every popular browser that can operate independently of a desktop app.

Full support for mobile platforms is a requirement for any modern password manager as most people frequently use their mobile devices to access secure sites and apps. Most experiences and features translate to mobile platforms without issue, but no one wants to enter a password like @2a&[email protected] on their smartphone's tiny keyboard. Fortunately, password manager apps typically let you authenticate using your fingerprint or face and directly fill in-app credentials with the tap of a button.

The Password Basics

Most people primarily use a password manager to manage website credentials. In practice, when you log in to a secure site, the service offers to save your credentials. When you return to that site, it offers to fill in those credentials. If you've saved multiple logins for the same site, the password manager lists all those options. Most also offer a browser toolbar menu of saved logins, so you can go straight to a saved site and log in automatically.

Some products detect password-change events and offer to update the existing record. Some record your credentials when you create a new account for a secure website. For maximum convenience, you should avoid password managers that don't automatically capture passwords.

Getting all of your existing passwords into a password manager is a good first step. Next, you need to identify the weak and duplicate passwords and replace them with tough ones. Many password managers flag weak, duplicate, or compromised passwords and help you improve them. Others go as far as to check whether you have set up two-factor authentication for those services in your vault that support it and whether your personal information appears in any data breaches.

When you create a new secure account or update a weak password, don't strain your brain trying to come up with something strong and unique. Let your password manager take care of that. You don't have to remember it, after all. Make sure your generated passwords are at least 20 characters long and include all of the major character types (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols); all too many products default to a shorter length.

Fill Forms Automatically

Since most password managers can autofill stored credentials, it's just a small step for them to automatically fill in personal data on web forms—first and last name, email address, phone number, bank cards, passport numbers, and so on. You'll even find products that use realistic images of credit cards with the correct color and bank logo to store your payment options. Storing payment and identity details in an encrypted vault is a much safer way than saving them to a website or browser.

Most of the top-rated products include a web form-filling component. The breadth and flexibility of their data collections vary, as does their accuracy when matching web form fields with their stored items. Even if they miss a field or two, the ones they do fill are ones you don't have to type. Think about how many sites you go to that want all the same information; this feature is a huge time-saver. Each password manager handles form filling differently. Some immediately fill fields automatically, but others wait for your input.

Advanced Password-Management Features

Given that all these products take care of basic password management tasks, how do any of them stand out from the pack?

One handy advanced feature is the ability to capture and fill credentials for desktop applications, not just websites. It's uncommon for modern password mangers to not be able to fill credentials for mobile apps, however. Another is a secure browser, designed to protect sensitive transactions and invoked automatically when you visit a financial site. The ability to automate the password change process seems to be less and less common these days. Some password managers never offered this feature to maintain zero-knowledge policies.

Most password managers include a built-in mechanism for securely sharing passwords with other users, but some go a step further with advanced permissions. For instance, a few password managers allow you to share a login without making the password visible, revoke sharing, or make the recipient an owner of the item. On a grimmer note, what happens to your secure accounts after you've died? A growing number of products include some provision for a digital legacy, a method to transfer your logins to a trusted individual in the event of your death or incapacity.

Logging in with your secure username and password to a website that doesn't use a secure HTTPS connection is a big no-no. Some password managers even warn you about insecure login pages. Even when you do use HTTPS, sniffers and snoops can still learn some things about your activity, such as the simple fact that you're logging in to the secure site, and the IP address from which you're connecting. Running your secure connections through a virtual private network, or VPN, adds a layer of protection. Dashlane includes a simple built-in VPN. RememBear and NordPass respectively come from the same companies behind Editors' Choice VPNs, TunnelBear VPN and NordVPN. 

Secure storage is an increasingly common feature among password managers, too. The storage allocation won’t replace the need for a dedicated cloud storage and syncing service, but in many cases, it’s enough for storing important documents in an encrypted state.

What's Not Here

As mentioned earlier, you also won't find any only-free password managers here; those products are in a separate roundup. The password managers that offer both excellent paid and free tiers appear in both roundups.

A password manager isn't the only thing you need to secure your digital life. We already mentioned the importance of using a VPN and two-factor authentication, but you should also use a security suite. It never hurts to verify that all your security software works, either.

The Top Password Management Software

Although a password manager needs to offer advanced features, it should remain easy to use and avoid needless complexity. Users who get annoyed or baffled by a password manager may well abandon it and go back to using sticky notes to store and share passwords or, worse, applying the same password everywhere.

Our Editors' Choice winners for the category are Dashlane, Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault, and LastPass. Slick and polished Dashlane boasts a ton of features. Keeper offers a full set of advanced capabilities, a sleek and elegant user interface, and support for every popular platform and browser. LastPass Premium excels because of its ease of use and competitive security tools, despite the upcoming changes to the free version of LastPass. You won't go wrong choosing any one of these products. Products that do not earn an Editors' Choice award still have their merits, however, and you may even prefer one of them.

Our Picks
Keeper New Logo
Keeper Password Manager & Digital Vault
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Dashlane (Logo)
Dashlane
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LastPass
LastPass
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Bitwarden Image
Bitwarden
 
 
 
LogMeOnce Logo
LogMeOnce Password Management Suite Ultimate
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Password Boss Logo
Password Boss
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Nord Pass logo
NordPass
See It
Spring Forward Sale: 2-Year Premium Plan for $35.76 (70% Off)
at NordPass
AgileBits 1Password Logo
1Password
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RoboForm 8 Everywhere Image
RoboForm 8 Everywhere
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Sticky Password Logo
Sticky Password
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McAfee True Key Image
McAfee True Key
See It
Visit Site
at True Key
Zoho Vault Image
Zoho Vault
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Rating
Editors' Choice
4.5 Editor Review
Editors' Choice
4.0 Editor Review
Editors' Choice
4.0 Editor Review
Editors' Choice
4.0 Editor Review
Import From Browsers
Two-Factor Authentication
Fill Web Forms
Multiple Form-Filling Identities
Actionable Password Strength Report
Digital Legacy
Secure Password Sharing
Where to Buy
Save 30% off Multi Year Password Manager Plans
at Keeper Security
 
$59.99
at Dashlane
 
$119.99
at Dashlane
 
Free 30-Day Premium Trial
at LastPass
 
Free
at LastPass
 
 
Free for Premium
at LogmeOnce
 
$29.00
at Password Boss
 
Spring Forward Sale: 2-Year Premium Plan for $35.76 (70% Off)
at NordPass
 
$1.49 Per Month for 2 Year Plan (70% Off)
at NordPass
 
$4.99 Per Month for 1Password Families (5 users)
at 1Password
 
$3.99 Per User Per Month
at 1Password
 
$16.68
at RoboForm
 
$14.99
at Sticky Password
 
Visit Site
at True Key
 
Free Trial
at Zoho Vault
 
$0.90 Per User Per Month, Billed Annually
at Zoho Vault
 
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About Neil J. Rubenking

Neil J. Rubenking

Neil Rubenking served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new. He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors. In 1986, PC Magazine brought Neil on board to handle the torrent of Turbo Pascal tips submitted by readers. By 1990, he had become PC Magazine's technical editor, and a coast-to-coast telecommuter. His "User to User" column supplied readers with tips and solutions on using DOS and Windows, his technical columns clarified fine points in programming and operating systems, and his utility articles (over forty of them) provided both useful programs and examples of programming in Pascal, Visual Basic, and Delphi. Mr. Rubenking has also written seven books on DOS, Windows, and Pascal/Delphi programming, including PC Magazine DOS Batch File Lab Notes and the popular Delphi Programming for Dummies. In his current position as a PC Magazine Lead Analyst he evaluates and reports on security solutions such as firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware, ransomware protection, and full security suites. Mr. Rubenking is an Advisory Board member for the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization, an international non-profit group dedicated to coordinating and improving testing of anti-malware solutions.

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About Ben Moore

Ben Moore

Ben Moore is an Analyst for PhonespySoftware24's software team covering video streaming services, security software, GNU/Linux, and the occasional PC game. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Neowin.net, and Tom's Guide. Ben holds a degree in New Media and Digital Design from Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer, the student-run newspaper.

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