When it comes to online security, there are few tools more essential than a password manager. In addition to password managers making your browsing experience more secure by allowing you to use long, randomly generated passwords, they also make the browsing experience easier. With autofill, filtering and support for custom entries, password managers are a one-stop shop for your personal data.
In this guide to the best free password manager, we’re going to help you ditch storing your passwords in your browser. We have five picks from our best password manager guide that will secure your logins with the best in encryption and offer some additional features in the process.
If you want to skip the hoopla, sign up for a subscription with LastPass. Although it’s not a perfect password manager, LastPass offers more than any other tool with its free version. That said, there are some worthy alternatives, including Bitwarden, that you can read more about below.
Best Free Password Manager 2020
LastPass ranks as the best free password manager for one reason: multi-device sync. As we’ve seen with countless other tools, including Dashlane, 1Password and Sticky Password, multi-device sync is the key feature reserved for premium tiers. With LastPass, however, you get it for free.
Although it’s not the only free password manager with multi-device sync — we’ll talk about the others in a moment — LastPass is the best. It’s a commercial product, fit with the features and usability you’d expect from any paid tool. That includes excellent autofill, a security challenge and a wonderful browser interface. It also comes with a decent password generator.
LastPass is sound when it comes to security, too. Although the tool suffered a hack in 2015, the zero-knowledge model of LastPass protected users’ data. The attackers made off with encrypted databases, but because LastPass doesn’t store your master password — the key used to decrypt the data — the hackers were left with nothing more than a pile of gibberish.
As a popular, free password manager, LastPass has been the target of some controversy dating back to the 2015 hack. However, from our testing, LastPass can go toe-to-toe with any other password manager when it comes to securing your data.
Upgrading to LastPass Premium
Although LastPass’ free plan is great, it’s missing some features compared to the paid option. The $3 per month subscription adds priority technical support and one-to-many sharing. The free plan is restricted to one-to-one sharing, meaning you can only share a password with one other user.
More importantly, Premium comes with application autofill. Although LastPass doesn’t have a local application — the tool is reserved for your browser — paying subscribers can download LastPass for Applications. This tool allows you to autofill passwords for local applications like you can in your browser.
LastPass has some other membership options, including a family plan worthy of our best password manager for families guide. You can learn more about those options in our full LastPass review. If you’d rather spend some hands-on time with it, you can sign up for account, as well.
- Multi-device sync
- Easy to use
- Browser based
- Data breach on record
Bitwarden is the only password manager we’ve tested that’s gotten close to dethroning LastPass (read our Bitwarden vs Lastpass piece). It’s an open-source, free password manager that’s shockingly easy to use. Although it lacks some of the conveniences of more commercial password managers, Bitwarden puts other open-source tools to shame.
Without spending any money, Bitwarden offers multi-device sync, unlimited storage and two-factor authentication options (it’s also one of our best password manager for iOS picks). There’s also a Premium plan, though as we pointed out in our Bitwarden review, it feels like a “support the developers” plan more than anything else.
That said, the Premium plan is cheap at $10 per year, adding priority customer support, 1GB of file storage, additional 2FA options and a password health report.
1-year plan $ 0.83/ month
$10.00 billed every year
There are multi-user plans, as well, including a family and business plan. Enterprise, which is Bitwarden’s plan focused on businesses, made our list of the best password managers for small business. It’s more expensive than other business password managers, such as Zoho Vault, though it comes with advanced features like Active Directory integration.
Surprisingly Open Source
Most open-source tools are difficult to use (we’ll get to one such example next). Thankfully, that’s not the case with Bitwarden. It’s a secure password manager, fit with a public audit by Cure53, a zero-knowledge model and publicly available source code on GitHub. Although it sounds like the familiar tale of other open-source software, Bitwarden feels like a commercial product.
The interface is clean, with Bitwarden offering a flexible UI fit with multiple themes. Although it’s not as customizable as 1Password, Bitwarden feels more robust than some other paid password managers (read our Steganos Password Manager review for an example). If you’re on the fence, there’s no reason not to take Bitwarden out for a test drive.
- Easy to use
- Business plans available
- Little reason to upgrade to Premium
KeePass is the worse side of the open-source coin. Although it’s robust in terms of features, especially for a free password manager, KeePass is behind the curve in terms of usability. Still, as long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, it offers a lot of functionality for no coin, including multi-device sync.
Unlike our previous two entries, KeePass is free, and free alone. You can support the development team with donations through PayPal or wire transfer, or commit to a monthly contribution through Flattr. There isn’t a premium option, though. You get everything with the free plan.
“Everything,” in this case, means everything. KeePass is a highly flexible password manager, offering multiple choices when it comes to how you store your passwords, both in terms of location and security. In many ways, it feels like encryption software, allowing you to customize how you authenticate, secure and manage your logins.
More options usually means worse usability, and that’s unfortunately the case with KeePass. The desktop application is a chore to get around, with a dated user interface and an overabundance of options. Techies shouldn’t have a tough time working their way around, but newcomers will likely find KeePass’ options too overwhelming.
- Integrates with cloud storage
- Difficult to use
NordPass is a password manager from the virtual private network giant NordVPN (read our NordVPN review). Although the paid option is where NordPass comes into its own, the free version isn’t too bad. It includes all of the core features of the service, including autofill and autosave, but only for a single device.
Multi-device sync and password sharing aren’t available with the free version, and although that’s disappointing, NordPass is still one of the best free password managers around. It’s built around ease of use, much like NordLocker. The interface is streamlined, as is the browser application, and getting set up is a breeze thanks to NordPass’ vast import support.
In addition to passwords, NordPass supports notes and credit card storage, but nothing else. The damper is multi-device sync. An upgrade to Premium is necessary if you want to access your logins across devices.
Thankfully, the Premium price isn’t too high. NordPass costs less than $3 per month if you purchase the longest duration, offering syncing with up to six devices and password sharing.
As for security, NordPass is sound. Everything is locked behind your master password, which NordPass has zero knowledge of. Instead, encryption happens locally with XChaCha20, meaning NordPass never sees your passwords in a decrypted form.
It also doesn’t have the key necessary to decrypt your files, so if a hacker were to make off with the database, none of your logins would be compromised.
- Unlimited storage on free plan
- Easy to use
- No multi-device sync on free plan
Rounding out our list is RememBear, another VPN-turned-password manager, like NordPass (read our TunnelBear review for more on that). It’s restricted in the same way, hiding multi-device sync behind a surprisingly expensive paywall. That said, RememBear offers unlimited storage for a single device, putting it ahead of options like McAfee True Key.
Usability is the name of the game when it comes to RememBear. Like NordPass, it can store logins, notes and credit card information, all of which are given their own section in the left-side menu. Getting around the application is dead simple, with a few options for sorting your entries and a search bar.
There’s also an achievements system in place, which rewards you for taking advantage of RememBear’s various functions. Those include installing the browser extension, adding a secure note, adding a credit card and tweeting about RememBear. Completing any five of the achievements will get you $6 off a Premium membership.
Unfortunately, you’ll need that discount. RememBear is one of the most expensive password managers around, with the monthly plan clocking in at $6 per month. Upgrading to Premium has its perks, however, including multi-device sync and priority customer service. You can save 50 percent by opting for an annual billing cycle, too.
1-year plan $ 3.00/ month
$36.00 billed every year
Although RememBear has some obvious problems compared to LastPass and Bitwarden, it’s still a competent free password manager. You can learn more about it in our RememBear review or sign up for a free plan to take it for a spin.
- Streamlined application
- Unlimited storage
- No multi-device sync on paid plan
- Expensive premium option
Choosing the Best Free Password Managers
Before getting to our picks, we want to offer a peek behind the curtain into how we made them. For free password management, one key feature stands above the rest: multi-device sync. The password management tools that offer this functionality shot to the top of the list (our first three picks showcase that).
There’s a little more to it than that, though. Some password managers that are excellent in a paid capacity fall flat when it comes to their free version. For example, Dashlane might be the best password manager around, but its free plan is restricted to 50 entries and doesn’t come with multi-device sync.
Outside of functionality, our main concern when creating this list was security. In suggesting free password managers, our goal is to get you, the reader, to ditch your browser’s built-in password manager, most of which are filled with security vulnerabilities.
The choices below operate with the best in encryption and a zero-knowledge model, meaning even if your passwords were stolen, the hacker wouldn’t be able to decrypt them.
Everything else was secondary to functionality and security, though we still considered ease of use, features and upgradability when ordering the list. No matter which of the below options you choose, you’ll be able to keep your logins secure, with some of the tools allowing you to sync across devices.
Are Free Password Managers Safe?
You should be careful trusting any piece of software with your passwords, especially those claiming to cost nothing. As it’s said, nothing is ever truly free, so if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Thankfully, there are a handful of trustworthy free password managers, including LastPass, Bitwarden and KeePass.
If you find a password manager claiming to be free that’s not mentioned in this guide, be sure to ask yourself how that tool is making money. In most cases, free password managers are offered on a trial basis, serving as an advertisement for a more robust paid plan. There are exceptions with tools like KeePass, which accept donations.
Outside of that, it’s best not to trust a password manager that bears a “free” moniker. If there’s a free plan with no option to donate or upgrade, the company behind it is likely selling your information or skimming passwords for profit. Fret not, however. If you stick with the options above, you’ll be fine.
When it comes to free password managers, it’s hard to beat LastPass. It offers a breadth of excellent features, multi-device sync and, most important of all, an easy-to-use interface. If you’re looking for browser-based password management without spending a dime, we recommend LastPass.
That said, Bitwarden is an excellent alternative, securing your passwords with top-notch encryption, all detailed in the source code. It’s the closest we’ve found to LastPass in terms of usability, features and security, making it a worthy alternative.
Below that, you’re sacrificing in one area or another. KeePass, for example, offers an unmatched list of settings, but suffers from a complex and dated interface. RememBear and NordPass have the opposite problem, offering a streamlined UI but lacking many critical features.
What free password manager are you using, though? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.