The Key to Remembering Passwords? A Password Manager

Creating a strong password
Photo by ra2studio / Shutterstock.com

Managing website passwords is a thankless job you didn’t ask for yet can’t afford not to do. You have identities and passwords for online banking, email, shopping sites (such as Amazon.com), entertainment sites (such as Netflix and Hulu), utilities and a host of other places.

While it may seem as if you have a lot of passwords to remember, recent research from credit monitoring agency Experian suggests you may actually use far too few passwords for the number of places you visit.

“The majority of internet users consistently use a small set of user names and passwords to secure multiple different accounts; including social media, email and online shopping sites,” said Experian Global Identity and Fraud Director Hugh Steed in a presentation to the Merchant Risk Council EU Congress in Seville, Spain, last May. “People have on average up to 26 online accounts protected by only five different passwords. This greatly increases the risk that fraudsters can use data stolen from one source to successfully access other accounts held by the same user.”

In addition, you need to not only have a different password for each account, but each of those passwords also needs to be “strong.” (For a look at the world’s weakest passwords, check out this article: “World’s Worst Passwords: Did Yours Make the List?“) This means you need to have an incomprehensible string of letters, numbers and characters if you want to avoid being hacked.

That’s all fine, but how are you going to remember all that strange gibberish you created for a password? Plus, having to type in “54%happyTB#1” is a real drag when you’re in a rush to bid on that eBay auction ending in 50 seconds.

Fortunately, we have an answer. It’s a password manager, and here are six of the most well-known.

1. LastPass

  • Price: Free for basic version, $12 a year (or $1 per month) for the Premium version supporting shared use by up to five people, tech support and 1 GB of encrypted file storage
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple, Linux
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android, Windows

This password manager offers broad support for use within desktop web browsers – or dedicated apps on Apple iOS devices, Android phones and tablets, and Windows 10-based laptops, desktops and tablets. Like other managers, LastPass uses a special encrypted master password that, in theory at least, ensures your password data is accessible only by you. The free version of LastPass will automatically fill in passwords, generate strong passwords when needed and create one-time passwords for certain uses. Spring for the premium version, at $12 a year, and receive 1 GB of encrypted file storage, priority tech support and several other benefits. LastPass also offers a “Teams” subscription (for companies with 50 or fewer employees) and an “Enterprise” version (for businesses of any size). Each of the latter options is priced per user, with a $4 monthly fee per user being the highest price.

2. RoboForm

  • Price: Free version for consumers with unlimited logins and password support, $19.95 annually for premium version, per user or site license pricing for organizations.
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple, Linux
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android, Windows

RoboForm is great for helping you when you’re filling out the same kind of form repeatedly. Let’s say, for example, that you decide this is the year when you’re going to enter every online contest you can find. RoboForm is a great tool to fill in all the entry blanks. Many of those form-filling functions can also be found in the latest browsers, so you could also use RoboForm for its password management functions. Like LastPass, it requires the use of a master password, and it will generate and fill in strong passwords for you. It will also enter your information into forms as needed, which can simplify shopping when buying from a new site.

3. Dashlane

  • Price: Free for one device or $39.95 per year for Dashlane Premium (with unlimited number of devices with automatic sync and backup for your account).
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple
  • Supported browsers: Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android, Windows

Dashlane is another password manager worth your consideration.

The free version includes not only a password manager, but also the ability to autofill online forms, and includes a digital wallet to store your credit card, bank and PayPal information. In addition, it will automatically save copies of your on-screen receipts using screen shots – so you can easily get centralized access to information on everything you’ve purchased using your digital wallet.

There’s also an “emergency sharing” provision that lets you designate access to all or some of your passwords during an emergency – which might be useful if you know you’re going to be in the hospital for an operation or if you’re traveling and want to offer secure, limited-time access to some of your passwords for someone who is house-sitting for you.

If you pay for the Premium version, you’ll be able to sync your Dashlane account across all your devices (including phone, tablet, laptop and desktop), securely back up your account to the cloud and get web access to your passwords. The Premium version also offers priority support.

4. Keeper

  • Price: Free trial for one device, $29.99 per year for individuals, $59.99 a year for a family package (up to five users) and $30 a year per user for businesses
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple, Linux, Unix
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer
  • Supported mobile devices: Android, Apple (iOS), Windows, Kindle

As with many other password managers, the individual version of Keeper (priced at $29.95 per year) includes unlimited password storage. But it also allows you to use an unlimited number of devices (and sync your passwords across them) and offers unlimited secure cloud backup and record sharing. If you opt for the family version (for $59.99 per year), you’ll also get 10 GB of secure file storage.

5. True Key

  • Price: Free for storing up to 15 passwords, $19.99 per year for more than 15 passwords
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari (only on iOS devices), Edge
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android, Windows

The next password manager to make our list is True Key. This product grew out of the acquisition of another password manager offering, PasswordBox, by Intel in 2014. It has one of the cheapest and simplest pricing models of any of the options out there – and is backed by the biggest company (Intel).

The features are fairly standard but also include a couple of cool additions – both face and fingerprint recognition (allowing you to use the built-in camera and fingerprint readers on some phones, tablets and laptops as a way to log in to True Key) and the ability to use the full features of True Key for free as long as you’re not storing more than 15 passwords.

6. 1Password

  • Price: Full-featured 30-day free trial, then either $2.99 per month (billed annually) for individuals or $4.99 per month (billed annually) for families of up to five people
  • Supported operating systems: Windows, Apple
  • Supported browsers: Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge on Mac, Windows or Linux
  • Supported mobile devices: Apple (iOS), Android

The final product to make our list is 1Password. It’s a flexible password manager that’s easy to use and includes a digital wallet, an autosave and autofill function for website forms, and a “1Password Watchtower” that sends you security alerts about any services and websites you use. Additionally, it offers security tools that allow you to do security audits of password strength and improve the strength of your passwords if needed.

Do you use a password manager? Which one do you like and why? Share your top pick in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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