Dashlane has, for years, topped the list of the best password managers, and it’s easy to see why. It’s packed with features and uses an airtight security model to keep your data safe. However, there have been some changes to the service since the last time we updated our Dashlane review.
A new web-first push has changed how Dashlane onboards new customers, how it approaches support and even the list of features offered. Dashlane remains one of the better options on the market, but it’s not the best anymore.
- Dashlane’s web app is easy to use but is still lacking many key features.
- Its security model is second to none, protecting your passwords at all costs.
- Though it is expensive, features like dark web monitoring and a VPN may make the extra cost worth it.
It’s easy to assume that “different” means “new,” but that’s not the case. Dashlane has changed, but it hasn’t added much new, all while other password manager options continue to add fresh features and functionality.
Dashlane Video Review
Dashlane is a password manager that stores and auto-fills your passwords, credit card information and personal information through a browser extension.
Dashlane uses AES-256 encryption and a zero-knowledge security model, making it one of the safest password managers around. It also uses a unique device token, which further protects your account.
Dashlane is a private company operated by co-founders Jean Guillou and Guillaume Maron.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Excellent security model
- Dark web monitoring
- Automatic password changer
- Easy-to-use web application
- No support for custom entry types, fields or categories
- Features missing in web app
- Confusion over features in the web & desktop apps
Dashlane has, in a way, always aspired to be more than a password manager. It has several unique features that other password managers don’t offer, justifying the higher-than-average price tag for some (more on that next). It even rivals Abine Blur, which is one of the most feature-rich services we’ve tested.
All the basics are accounted for: Dashlane has snappy autofill through the browser extension, and it automatically captures passwords as you log in to websites. Dashlane also supports multi-device sync on paid plans, secure notes and unlimited password sharing.
Dashlane’s browser extension is pretty important, too, as it pushes toward a web-first model. The Dashlane browser extension is available on Chrome and all Chromium-based browsers (Opera, Brave, etc.), as well as Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Safari. Its browser also handles autofill and capture and comes with a built-in password generator.
Dark Web Monitoring and Password Health
Dashlane isn’t the only password manager with a password health checkup, but it might be the best. Thanks to a new algorithm from Dropbox — more on that in the security section below — Dashlane’s password checkup provides a more accurate look at how secure your passwords are.
The password health page shows weak, reused and compromised passwords, and then uses that information to give you an overall health score. It’s great for checking up on your accounts and useful for seeing if you’ve been absentmindedly following poor password practices (it happens to all of us).
Compromised passwords are detected by Dashlane’s dark web monitoring, which will monitor up to five email addresses for you. It will search for any data breaches related to your added emails and notify you if there are any new ones. It’s basic monitoring, but it’s effective.
These two features are the strongest out of Dashlane’s offerings. Many other password managers offer a security dashboard, but few offer the combination of security features that Dashlane does. Dark web monitoring and password health work together, and they play into Dashlane’s most unique feature: the automatic password changer.
Dashlane’s password changer has been a signature feature for a long time, and although copycats have popped up, Dashlane was the first major service to bring the feature to market. It’s a great feature to have around if you have accounts on the supported site list. You can even change multiple passwords at once.
The Dashlane VPN
Dashlane offers a virtual private network (VPN) as part of its Premium plan. It’s a decent offering, though some looming privacy concerns might turn you off to using it (we’ll talk more about that in the security section). The VPN is an optional feature, so you don’t have to use it if you don’t need it.
It offers unlimited bandwidth, server locations in over 20 countries and what it calls “optimal virtual location technology.” The VPN works, and it’s decent, but there are much better options. We’d recommend our best VPN pick, ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
Dashlane’s Mobile Apps
Like any good password manager should, Dashlane offers mobile apps for iOS and Android. Testing on Android, everything went off without a hitch. After logging in, the app immediately downloaded everything in our test account, and autofill worked right away.
Autofill is the main purpose of the mobile apps, but Dashlane includes most of the features of the desktop application, too. Dark web monitoring and the VPN are available on mobile, as is the password health screen. In fact, the mobile app has more features than the web app at the time of writing.
Dashlane Features Overview
- : AES-256
- : Limited
- : No
- : No
- : No
Dashlane has overhauled its pricing structure several times over the past few years, settling now with an effective, three-plan lineup. However, even with a restructure, Dashlane hasn’t actually lowered its prices. It remains one of the more expensive password managers around (twice the price of Keeper, even).
- Up to 50 entries, One device, Autofill, Security alerts, Password sharing with five accounts
- Unlimited entries & sharing, YubiKey support, Secure file storage, VPN, Dark web monitoring
- All features of Premium, Credit monitoring, $1,000,000 in identity theft protection
Still, we can appreciate the changes Dashlane made. Previously, you could only purchase plans annually, but now, you can pay monthly (at a slight markup). Dashlane also removed its Premium Plus plan, which previously offered credit monitoring and an identity theft protection service for twice the price of Dashlane Premium.
Dashlane offers a free plan, and although it’s decent, it’s not as good as LastPass or Bitwarden (read our LastPass and Bitwarden reviews). You’re limited to 50 passwords, and you can’t use multi-device sync. Thankfully, you still get two-factor authentication support, secure notes and personalized security alerts.
Premium is the Dashlane plan at $5 per month — billed annually — giving you unlimited password storage, multi-device sync, dark web monitoring and the VPN. We appreciate the extra goodies, but this plan is still above market. For example, 1Password only charges $3 for its personal plan.
The Family plan is basically the Premium for five people. It includes a few extra goodies, such as a family dashboard for managing all of your accounts, but it’s basically a bundle of five Premium accounts.
We like the condensed lineup of plans, but the price is still too high. Dashlane comes with a decent list of unique features, but those features don’t justify twice the monthly price of most leading password managers. Still, Dashlane seems content to keep its price high, without regard for the rate set by the rest of the market.
Between a neutered free version and an expensive paid one, it’s hard to justify Dashlane. You don’t have to pay right away, though. Dashlane offers a 30-day trial of the Premium plan when you sign up for the free plan, and it maintains a 30-day money-back guarantee for new subscribers. We can complain about pricing, but we can’t complain about a free trial and a solid refund policy.
Dashlane has continued to evolve its platform over the past few years, both for the better and the worse. One area of improvement is getting set up. A large “try” button guides you to the Chrome web store where you can install the Dashlane extension, then automatically redirects you to a signup page.
You’re then presented with a list of tasks — add a password, try autofill, etc. — similar to RememBear (read our RememBear review). Dashlane even provides some popular websites on this starting page, providing step-by-step instructions for capturing the password.
This is the “parent” (or grandparent) test of whether the app is simple enough that even the most tech-illiterate can get on board, and Dashlane passes. Password manager accessibility is very important, which is why we rate a service like LastPass higher than Sticky Password (read our Sticky Password review).
To the Browser!
Dashlane is in a bit of a transition period. New customers are directed to the web application, which features all of the basic functionality of Dashlane: you can view your passwords, add new ones and autofill them on websites. You can also store notes, personal info and payment methods in the web app.
It’s clear the web app is still a work in progress, though. The “IDs” category is grayed out at the time of writing, with a tooltip saying the feature is coming soon. Many of Dashlane’s signature features are missing from the web app, too, including the VPN.
You’re also restricted to Dashlane’s limited range of entry types (the four mentioned above). Although commonplace a few years ago, password managers have progressed to a wider range of entry types. The best free password manager, LastPass, even supports custom items.
Unlike 1Password (read our 1Password review), you also can’t add custom fields to entries. However, you can organize entries into categories, but even then, you can’t add your own categories. You’re forced to use Dashlane’s preset categories.
One could argue that lacking these features makes Dashlane more accessible, but that really doesn’t translate into real-world use. Custom items, fields and categories would change absolutely nothing about the current user interface, short of the categories on the left-side menu. They would also make the web application much more functional.
The general direction of the web application is good, though. Still, it’s lacking a lot of features, but the usability is great. It looks like Dashlane took some design cues from Dropbox, with a clean, visually attractive interface that anyone can find their way around.
A Relic of the Past
Going forward, Dashlane is a “web-first app,” according to the company. However, the desktop app is still available if you’re willing to dig around — a Google search or the “more features” option in the web app will get you to the right spot.
Its desktop app is just as functional as it was a few years ago: you still have access to emergency contact options, the password changer and the Dashlane VPN. Everything automatically syncs with the desktop app, too, so you can have your passwords on both platforms.
It seems like Dashlane plans on eventually phasing out its desktop app, but it remains available and functional for the time being. According to Dashlane, and confirmed by us, here are the features available only in the desktop app as of February 2021:
- VPN (Premium plans only)
- Attaching, downloading or deleting secure file attachments (Premium plans only)
- Adding and managing emergency contacts
- Adding, editing and viewing IDs, bank accounts and bank card notes
- Managing two-factor authentication for logging in to Dashlane
More features are being added to the web app, so make sure to check there if you stumbled upon this password manager review later down the line.
The biggest issue with Dashlane’s transition is that the new web app doesn’t feel ready. As mentioned at the start of this section, the setup process passes the parent test, and that’s a good thing. However, Dashlane’s clear focus on the web application could lead some paying users astray.
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where someone signs up for a paid Dashlane subscription expecting features like a VPN only to find them missing in the web application where new users are directed. Dashlane provides no indication on the product page that certain features are restricted to one application and never prompts users to download the desktop app.
Dashlane Review: Missing in Action
The issue is only further exaggerated in that it’s difficult to find where to download the desktop application. It’s hidden in the web app’s settings screen, under the extremely vague title “more features.”
Based on our experience, and what we’ve heard from readers, this is actually impacting customers — one reader even suggested the desktop app was gone entirely.
It’s great that Dashlane wants to be a web-first app. However, if it wants to lead on the beta web app, it ought to remove any currently missing features from the product page. It’s confusing at best, and disingenuous at worst.
During the course of this review, we encountered a bug that would continually log us out of our Google account. Originally, we hadn’t tied the issue to Dashlane, but after disabling the extension, the problem is gone. After additional testing, it seems to be related to having multiple Google accounts. A way around this is to add a custom name to every Google entry so Dashlane doesn’t get confused.
Dashlane, upon first glance, is standard in terms of security, offering a zero-knowledge model and AES-256 encryption for your vault. However, by making a few tweaks in how you authenticate your device, Dashlane has become one of the most secure password managers around.
Everything starts with your master password, which Dashlane has zero-knowledge of, including its employees. In fact, Dashlane never sees your master password, nor any of its derivatives, for authentication. Instead, the master password is used along with a 32-byte salt for generating an Argon2d hash, which is the 256-key used for encrypting and decrypting your information.
If that’s a bunch of technical nonsense to you, make sure to read our description of encryption.
Master Password & User Device Key
Your master password is for accessing your information, but there’s another hurdle to overcome. Instead of using your master password to authenticate your device, Dashlane generates a user device key for each new device you set up. This key is in no way related to your master password.
Instead, it’s generated based on some hardware and software characteristics of your device, as well as 38 characters generated using the OpenSSL RAND_byte function. As for what you see, all you need to do to authenticate is enter a one-time password sent to your email address.
Due to this approach, the authentication of your device and the decryption of your vault are separate processes. This is important to note, as most password managers simply authenticate using a stored hash of your master password. With Dashlane, an attacker would need not only your master password but also access to one of your devices or your email.
Analyze Your Passwords
Dashlane has improved its password analyzer, too. Instead of making a judgment based on length and complexity, Dashlane uses the zxcvbn algorithm developed by Dropbox. This algorithm measures the strength of a password on how hard it is to brute-force hack.
For example, the password “Pas$w0rd!” would tick all the boxes for a secure password — a capital letter, special characters and a number. However, most brute-force attacks take these sorts of passwords into account, so although it may look secure, it actually isn’t.
Dashlane 2FA Options
To further enhance the security of your master password, Dashlane offers a variety of two-factor authentication options. You can use the best 2FA apps, including Authy and Google Authenticator, as well as hardware keys supporting the universal two-factor authentication standard, such as the YubiKey.
At the time of writing, 2FA options are only supported in the desktop application. You can still use 2FA with the web app, but you’ll need to configure it into the desktop app.
Dashlane VPN and Identity Theft Protection
As mentioned in the “features” section, Dashlane is more than a password manager, offering a free virtual private network and identity theft protection with your plan. Although these features are welcome, they shouldn’t sell you on the service.
Dark web monitoring works well, but the VPN is the bigger concern. Dashlane doesn’t actually offer its own virtual private network. Instead, it provides service through AnchorFree’s network, which owns Hotspot Shield.
This network is the go-to for multiple online security brands (read our Kaspersky Anti-Virus review for an example). As you can see in our Hotspot Shield review, it’s not a terrible option, though there are better VPNs around (read our CyberGhost review if that’s what you’re after).
Dashlane has changed its pricing structure and interface, and a lot of the changes are positive. The changes to customer service are not. Although you’ll get answers faster under Dashlane’s new customer support structure, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to talk to a human.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over, folks, at least for low-level support. Dashlane now handles all email and live chat requests with a bot, which will use your question to recommend solutions based on articles in the knowledgebase. The AI worked in our testing, pointing us toward answers to the various questions we asked.
It’s the divide that’s the problem. You have to use the AI through live chat or email before you can speak to a human. Human support reps are available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, but you can’t connect with them directly.
Twitter & Knowledgebase
Actually, the best way to reach Dashlane is on Twitter. Dashlane maintains a highly active support Twitter account, responding to requests daily.
The knowledgebase is a decent place to get answers, but it can feel like a mess at times. Articles are highly detailed and helpful, but not always up to date. For example, we found a few referencing the Premium Plus plan and only some of them clarified that the plan is no longer offered.
Still, the self-help resources are indeed helpful. Though we don’t care for the AI shenanigans with the live chat and email support, especially for paying customers. However, Dashlane’s support still excels with a dense knowledgebase and a responsive support Twitter.
Dashlane isn’t as impressive as it was a few years ago. The service is in a transitional period, and it shows. Missing features in the prominently pushed web app have caused confusion, and the changes to the support structure have made it more difficult to actually get direct support.
There have been some improvements, though. The web app is user-friendly and perfect for newcomers, even if it’s lacking features now. The pricing structure makes more sense now, too, even if the price itself remains high.
The issue is that, for as much as Dashlane has changed, the core service hasn’t changed much at all. While other password managers have pushed ahead, iterating on features available from the competition, Dashlane has stayed mostly the same. However, with Dashlane’s high asking price, it can’t afford to stay the same.
Dashlane is still a great password manager, but it doesn’t shine as much compared to other, cheaper options on the market.
What do you think, though? Are you going to give Dashlane a shot? Was there anything in this Dashlane password manager review you disagree with? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.