The Best Password Manager 2020: How to Secure Your Online Accounts

Password managers are the easiest way to secure all your online accounts at once. In this guide, we'll help you find the best one for you.

By Jacob RoachWriter
— Last Updated:
2020-06-07T08:05:46+00:00

Password managers are essential tools when protecting yourself against cybercrime. These simple software applications work by storing your logins in an encrypted database, and then using that database to sync your passwords across devices. Password managers are basic in premise, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between them.

In this guide, we’re pulling from our experience of reviewing more than 20 password managers to declare the best password manager. We have 10 picks that stand above the rest, each of which will keep your passwords secure. 

We’ll talk a little about why we like each option, but if one piques your interest, we recommend reading our full review. Additionally, we’re going to answer some common questions and concerns about password managers at the end of this guide. 

Below you’ll find our top 10 of password managers. Do you want to look at the full list? We have you covered right below.

The Best Password Managers for 2020

  1. 1Password – Easy to use, secure and cheap
  2. Dashlane – Expensive, but packed with features
  3. Bitwarden – A cheap, open-source alternative
  4. Zoho Vault – Perfect for small businesses
  5. Keeper – Password management, encrypted messaging and more
  6. RoboForm – Stuffed to the brim with settings
  7. LastPass – Free and easy to use
  8. Sticky Password – Dated, but loaded with features
  9. OneLogin – Secure SSO and MFA for enterprises
  10. NordPass – A simple, cheap password manager

1. Best Password Manager: 1Password 

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Last year, we crowned Dashlane as our champion, but it has since been dethroned by 1Password (read our Dashlane vs 1Password comparison for more on that). 1Password does everything right for a fair price, offering a unique password security model and a slew of features for the reasonable cost of $3 per month. 

Outside of its personal plan, 1Password also offers an excellent family plan, which earned first place in our best password manager for families guide. 

The family plan, in particular, stands out because of 1Password’s exceptional ease of use. The user interface and browser extension work in tandem, allowing you to quickly handle what you need to, be that using a password on a website or form-filling your address.

For basic and advanced password management, it doesn’t get much better than 1Password. Still, it has one weak point. Although inexpensive, 1Password doesn’t offer a free plan. We understand reserving unlimited passwords for a paid option, but a limited free version with storage space for 50 passwords or so would be nice. 

Thankfully, that’s offset by 1Password’s excellent trial. You can get started using 1Password for free with its 30-day trial. This isn’t a 30-day money-back guarantee, mind you — 1Password offers refunds in only specific circumstances — but rather a full month of service for free. You can learn more about that and 1Password’s other features in our 1Password review.

2. Runner-Up: Dashlane

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1Password may have dethroned Dashlane as the best password manager for 2020, but that doesn’t make Dashlane any less impressive. Dashlane is the password manager for someone who wants it all. Although it’s more expensive than 1Password — and the rest of the market, for that matter — it comes with enough goodies to justify the price. 

From its automatic password changer to the virtual private network to its identity theft protection, Dashlane is much more than just a password manager. It’s a full security suite dedicated to protecting your online accounts, privacy and identity. Dashlane includes everything in a single subscription, except for a secure antivirus

That subscription will strain your credit card, though. Dashlane’s base subscription runs $60 per year, while the all-inclusive package — which adds identity theft protection, among other things — costs twice as much. The saving grace is that Dashlane offers a free plan, though it’s limited to 50 passwords. 

Dashlane’s features are the main reason to pay more, but the core password management is excellent, too. Easy to use and fluid across multiple browsers, Dashlane seamlessly integrates with your browsing habits. You can learn more about our experience with it in our full Dashlane review.

3. Best Open-Source Password Manager: Bitwarden

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Rounding out our top three is Bitwarden, the first and only fully open-source password manager on this list. Although there are other open-source options — read our KeePass review for one — none of them get anywhere near Bitwarden. Despite being totally free to use, Bitwarden feels like a commercial product. 

Let’s start with what you get. For free, Bitwarden includes storage for unlimited passwords, multi-device sync and limited password sharing. There’s a paid plan, too, which runs a mere $10 per year, and it adds some extra features. Paying users get unlimited password sharing, 1GB of encrypted file storage, additional two-factor authentication options and priority customer service.

Free service is par for the course with open-source tools, usually because you’re sacrificing the  creature comforts of products with commercial aspirations. That’s not the case with Bitwarden, though. It’s shockingly easy to use, and if the team were to ask a few dollars a month for it, we wouldn’t bat an eye. 

Compared to a paid password manager, the biggest difference is that Bitwarden lacks features (read our Bitwarden vs LastPass comparison to see that in action). Still, for basic password management, Bitwarden is the best option. You can learn more about it in our Bitwarden review.

4.  Best Password Manager for Small Business: Zoho Vault

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Zoho Vault is our first foray into the wide world of business password managers. Although Zoho offers a free version of Vault for personal use, the tool is focused entirely on businesses. That focus pays off, too, with Vault earning a high ranking in our best password manager for small business guide. 

Small businesses are the focus here, though. Most business-focused software is expensive, fit with features only large outfits need. Zoho approaches the market differently, offering multiple tiers of service to cater to any budget. 

Plans range from Standard, which runs less than $1 per user, up to Enterprise, which runs more than $6 per user. Of course, the features differ between these plans, but as long as you don’t need things like single sign-on (SSO) and password event notifications, you can get by for less. 

Just because Zoho Vault is cheaper than other business password managers doesn’t mean it’s any less supported. Zoho offers excellent support resources, with everything from onboarding guides for new users to guided, hands-on demos. It’s a good thing these support resources are around, too; Vault has some pretty advanced user management and password policy options.

However, because of these advanced options, Vault can quickly get overwhelming for personal users. We’re happy to see all of the settings for businesses, though we would recommend against Vault’s free personal plan. You can learn more about our experience with it in our Zoho Vault review.

5. Keeper

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Despite being ranked fifth, Keeper is no slouch of a password manager. The tool itself is excellent, with a wonderfully designed and easy-to-use interface, as well as a slew of unique features. That said, Keeper’s breadth of services makes the sign-up process feel less fluid than our other options. 

That’s because of Keeper’s various add-ons. The base password manager, Keeper, is the core of your security package, but you can build it out with things like KeeperChat and BreachWatch. These add-ons cost extra, and although Keeper’s base price is low enough — around $2.50 per month — the price quickly adds up with all the extras. 

Still, Keeper never reaches the prices of Dashlane. Out of Keeper’s add-ons, KeeperChat is our favorite. It’s an end-to-end encrypted messaging application with enough features to make Facebook Messenger look like child’s play. In addition to in-transit encryption, KeeperChat also includes a private media gallery, timed self-destruct messages and message retraction.

BreachWatch is less impressive, simply scanning the dark web for any compromised records that match your information (our picks for best identity theft protection do a better job). Still, the full package costs less than $5 per month, which, compared to options like Dashlane, isn’t so bad. You can learn how to get started in our Keeper review.

6. RoboForm

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On the surface, RoboForm isn’t a particularly impressive password manager, with a somewhat-dated interface and nothing more than standard security. It’s cheap, though, and fit with a lot of settings that allow you to customize your password management experience. Although it’s not the best tool for everyone, some will find it indispensable. 

Starting with price, RoboForm runs $24 per year, making it one of the cheapest password managers around. You can save even more by subscribing for longer; RoboForm offers one, three and five year durations. 

Furthermore, RoboForm includes a free plan, which packs a punch with unlimited password storage and support for Android and iOS. It doesn’t include multi-device sync, though. 

Thankfully, free users still have access to RoboForm’s many options. That includes local-only management if you’re worried about syncing in the cloud, autofill on Windows applications and more. Free users are essentially using RoboForm 7 without multi-device sync, while paying users have access to the features of RoboForm 8. 

There are some goodies in the latest version, the most important of which is secure password sharing (you can share entire folders, too). Overall, RoboForm is dense in customization options, which, for some, is great. For others, though, it’ll prove too much. You can find out if it’s the right tool for you by reading our full RoboForm review.

7. Best Free Password Manager: LastPass

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LastPass might be the most popular password manager out there, with more than 16 million subscribers, as of two years ago. It’s easy to see why, too. LastPass is easily the best free password manager around, offering unlimited passwords and multi-device sync without spending a dime. 

The free plan is limited in a few ways — for example, you can only share entries with a single other user — but for the most part, it’s the full LastPass experience. Consequently, the $3-per-month Premium subscription doesn’t feel very premium. It adds features like one-to-many sharing and priority support, but those features don’t justify the extra cost. 

Although multi-device sync is the key feature that makes LastPass so impressive on the free end of things, it wouldn’t make our top 10 if it were difficult to use. As one of the most popular password managers around, it should come as little surprise that LastPass is easy to use, from its browser extension to the full UI. 

Furthermore, LastPass is based exclusively in your browser. Although that means offline access isn’t possible, it also means you can see your passwords anywhere. Even if you’re on a computer that isn’t yours, you can log in and access your passwords without the need to install an application. You can learn more about how LastPass functions in practice in our LastPass review

8. Sticky Password

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Sticky Password is a favorite here at Cloudwards.net, and if it weren’t for its abundantly outdated application, it’d rank near the top of our list. As long as you can get past the design, though, you’ll find an excellent password manager. Sticky Password has excellent security, a lot of features and a low price, to boot. 

There’s a free version, which includes unlimited storage and full access to the browser extensions. Additionally, Sticky Password offers a paid subscription for $30 per year, which adds multi-device sync and cloud backup, among other features.

Ease of use isn’t a problem — getting around Sticky Password is simple enough — but we expect more when options like 1Password and Dashlane are on the table. Still, Sticky Password is a solid choice for those who can look past its dated sensibilities. You can read about our experience with it in our Sticky Password review

9. OneLogin

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OneLogin isn’t a password manager per se, but rather a single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) service for businesses. Instead of entering passwords and having them autofill when you land on a website, OneLogin manages credentials for supported services and allows you to divide those credentials among your staff. 

It sounds similar to password management, and it is, though it doesn’t quite fit our definition of a “password manager.” However, with this different approach, OneLogin is able to offer a greater range of features to admins. You can automate user processes, choose who has access to what (either on a group or user level) and view usage logs. 

OneLogin comes into its own with MFA, though. Unlike standard two-factor authentication, MFA uses a variety of factors to determine if a login attempt is legit or not. For OneLogin, that comes in the form of its Vigilance AI and SmartFactor authentication. Between the two, OneLogin uses things like the time of day, IP address and network to determine if a login attempt is real. 

These tools learn based on your business’ usage of them, as well as your own custom security rules, so you can always adjust the AI if it’s blocking too much or too little. OneLogin may not be for individual users, but it’s an excellent tool for businesses, particularly for those that need to manage dozens of users. You can learn more about how to get started in our OneLogin review.

10. NordPass

nordpass-logo

NordPass comes from Tefincom, the same company behind NordVPN and the recently released NordLocker (read our NordVPN review and NordLocker review). It’s not the only VPN-turned-password manager, with TunnelBear following behind with its RememBear password manager. Still, it’s the best. 

That’s a relative claim, given that NordPass doesn’t reach near the heights of 1Password or Dashlane, but it’s a solid tool in its own right. That’s mainly because it’s cheap. NordPass runs only $2.49 per month, which comes out to around $30 per year. There’s also a free plan that includes unlimited storage, though it lacks multi-device sync. 

NordPass’ biggest issue is a lack of features. The local application supports password import, and the browser extension can suggest a strong password with its password generator, but that’s not enough, given the current password manager landscape. 

Even so, NordPass is secure and easy to use, to boot. There are certainly better options out there, especially if you’re paying. However, if you find that NordPass jives with you, there’s no reason not to use it. You can read about our full experience with it in our NordPass review.

Choosing the Best Password Managers

  1. 1
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  2. 2
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  3. 3
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Android, iOS Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  4. 4
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  5. 5
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Android/iOS Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  6. 6
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  7. 7
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  8. 8
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  9. 9
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  10. 10
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  11. 11
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  12. 12
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • community Mobile apps
    • Free plan
    Free
  13. 13
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  14. 14
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  15. 15
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  16. 16
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  17. 17
    • 2FA
    • N/A Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  18. 18
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan
    Free
  19. 19
    • Google Authenticator 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • 5 day trial Free plan
  20. 20
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Android, iOS Mobile apps
    • Free plan
  21. 21
    • 2FA
    • Zero-knowledge
    • Multi-device sync
    • Mobile apps
    • Free plan

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a password manager, despite the tools themselves being fairly simple to understand. Above all else, though, is security. When it comes down to it, no amount of features or clever UI design can save a tool that can’t keep your logins secure. That’s where we started. 

When judging security, we’re looking for two things: a zero-knowledge model and top-notch encryption. We’ll get into the former in a later section. The latter comes in the form of AES-256. It’s also critical that the password manager encrypts your data while it’s at rest as well as in transit. 

Thankfully, the list of password managers that abide by solid security practices is long (go figure, it’s a cybersecurity tool). Beyond that, price and features are important. We bundle the two together because there’s often a tradeoff between them. For instance, Dashlane has more features than any other password manager. It’s also more expensive than any other password manager.

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That narrows the list, but our rankings only take shape when ease of use is brought into the question. When evaluating a password manager, we purchase a subscription and download the application, just like anyone else would. That way, we can get an idea about how the application itself works, as well as the sign-up process. 

There are some other miscellaneous concerns, too, such as platform support. We’re looking for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and, if possible, Linux support. 

What Is a Password Manager?

A password manager is a tool designed to, well, manage your passwords. With the overwhelming number of online accounts most people maintain, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to use the best security practices when setting your password. Most people use the same password across accounts, and that password is usually weak itself. 

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The purpose of a password manager is two-fold: make your browsing experience easier and more secure. Starting with the former, password managers can automatically fill your logins when you land on a site. That means you don’t have to stay logged in to your most used websites, and that you can quickly enter rarely used websites. 

However, security is the main purpose of a password manager. By storing your logins, a password manager allows you to use long, randomly generated passwords across your accounts. 

Since you don’t need to remember these passwords, you can use a different one for each of your online accounts. This means that even if one of your accounts is hacked, your others are still safe.

How Does a Password Manager Work?

Although specific password managers differ in how they function, the general principle is the same. A password manager stores your logins in an encrypted database in the cloud. The only way to decrypt this database is with a master password, which the password manager generally never sees nor stores. 

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With your database unlocked, the password manager is then free to run a command that automatically fills logins whenever it detects the proper field. In addition to autofill, most password managers can also capture logins when you sign up for a new site and generate secure passwords. 

Outside of filling in data and offering encrypted storage, password managers are also useful for multi-device sync. Because your encrypted database is stored in the cloud, all of your devices can download and use that data, so long as you enter your master password. 

In practice, that means you’ll have access to all your logins on all of your devices and be able to enter them with no more than a click. 

How Safe Are Password Managers?

Because most password managers are based in the cloud — read our Steganos Password Manager review for one that’s not — security is a critical concern. Although we have questions about the security of certain password managers, all of the options listed above will keep your logins safe.

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That’s thanks to the zero-knowledge model most password managers use. In short, this security model is often used by cloud-based services as a form of provider protection. The idea is that the service provider doesn’t have access to a critical piece of information required to unlock your account, and because of that, it can’t see any of your data in a plaintext format. 

For password managers, that’s your master password. In nearly all cases, only you know your master password, which means the service you use can’t decrypt your passwords. Consequently, this also means that hackers can’t decrypt your passwords in the event the service you’re using suffers a data breach. 

Put simply, the password manager doesn’t have the tools to decrypt your passwords, and because of that, any potential attackers won’t, either. Combined with top-notch encryption, a zero-knowledge model makes it next to impossible for any attacker to compromise your logins. Nearly all reputable password managers are safe to use, and our top 10 are most certainly secure.

How Safe Is Google’s Password Manager? 

There’s nothing in the way of technical documentation describing the security architecture of Google’s password manager. We simply don’t know if it’s safe to use on a technical level, so rather than attempt to condemn it on that front, we’re going to offer a few reasons why a third-party option might be safer. 

The concern surrounding Google’s password manager comes down to the fact that it’s tied to your Google account. Should someone gain access to your Google account, they’ll have access to all of your passwords. Although this is true for any password manager, your Google account may be more susceptible (find out how to change your default Google account).

If you’re using Google Chrome, your Google account is automatically logged into Chrome so you can view your bookmarks and history no matter what device you’re on. That also means your passwords are already unlocked. If someone can access your browser, they can access your passwords. 

Password managers, on the other hand, often have automatic time-out features that will sign you out of your account after an hour or so. In that case, an attacker wouldn’t be able to see your passwords, even if they have access to your browser. 

Outside of security, there are some other shortcomings of Google’s password manager. It only works with Chrome, so local autofill isn’t possible and cross-browser use is out of the question. Additionally, you can only store passwords, credit cards and addresses in Chrome. Secure notes and the like are features for third-party password managers. 

What Is the Easiest Password Manager to Use? 

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1Password is the easiest password manager to use. Although options like LastPass and Dashlane give 1Password a run for its money, we haven’t tested a tool more fluid than our top-ranked service. That’s because 1Password takes a slightly different approach, and although it may not seem like much, it makes a world of difference. 

The key difference is that 1Password supports an unlimited number of vaults. Most password managers, including 1Password,  have some form of organization, but none of them allow you to organize your entries into separate vaults. 

That, along with support for custom entries and its excellent browser extensions, makes 1Password the easiest password manager to use.

What Is the Safest Password Manager?

dashlane-review-identity-dashboard

Although 1Password is more than capable of keeping your logins secure, we’re going to give a nod to Dashlane when it comes to keeping your passwords safe. Everything is locked behind your master password, of course, but there’s a lot of interesting tech going on behind the scenes with Dashlane. 

When you add a device to your account, Dashlane will generate a device key. This, along with your master password, is required to unlock your vault. The key is generated using hardware and software characteristics of your machine, along with 38 random characters, making it unique to the specific device you’re using. 

This model is in place so Dashlane can perform two-secret key derivation. In order to unlock your account, most tools derive a key from your master password and use that to authenticate you. However, with Dashlane, a key is derived from your device key and your master password, which is inherently more secure. 

1Password has a two-secret key model, too, though Dashlane uses a more modern key derivation function. Your key is generated using Argon2d and a 32-byte salt, which is the best of the best right now.

Final Thoughts

With so many options available, it can be tough choosing a password management tool that will not only keep your logins secure, but also make your browsing experience more enjoyable. For us, the top service is undoubtedly 1Password, though it has some tough competition in the form of Bitwarden and Dashlane.  

1Password is the most balanced of the three, with a reasonable price tag and a generous list of features. Bitwarden has fewer features, though it’s free or, if you’re paying, very inexpensive, while Dashlane has more features but demands a higher fee. 

Thankfully, you can try all three. 1Password offers a 30-day free trial, Bitwarden is outright free and Dashlane has a free plan limited to 50 entries. Check out our best cloud storage services to pair your favorite password protector with.

Do you agree that 1Password is the best option? Would you change anything about our rankings? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.