In the rush to grab gifts and bargains around Black Friday and the festive season, don’t give cyber-criminals an early Christmas present.
In our first ever test of password managers, we’ve unearthed fantastic Best Buy services that won’t cost you a penny. We’ve also found overly complicated managers that are best to avoid.
See our reviews of the best password managers, including LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password and more
Secure your passwords in an online vault
In this busy shopping season, we’re all hunting around online for the latest deals. That can mean setting up new accounts for various services, and so having more passwords to manage.
Don’t take the easy option and choose weak, easy-to-remember passwords, or reuse ones you’ve set up for other websites. That can give an opportunity to the cyber-criminals.
A password manager can help you manage all your accounts by storing your passwords in a secure vault, usually online and available whenever you need it. Then, all you’ll need to remember is one strong master password.
Password manager brands
There are a range of different password manager brands and services available. Here are some of the most well known, although we have reviews of other services, too.
LastPass – free or from £18 a year
LastPass is a secure vault for your passwords and private data. You can download it for free on your PC or Mac, Android or Apple iOS mobile device. You create an account with an email address and then set a strong master password. You can store unlimited passwords in LastPass free version, either ones you’ve chosen or passwords created by the generator. Upgrade to the premium package (£18 per year/LastPass Family £36 per year) if you want to share passwords or data securely.
Dashlane – free or £28.65 a year
As with LastPass, you create a Dashlane account and set a master password. You can either create your own passwords for individual accounts or Dashlane can generate ones for you. With the free package, you’re limited to storing just 50 passwords, so you’ll need to upgrade to the premium tier to get unlimited passwords. The paid package (£28.65 per year) also supports password sharing and a virtual private network (VPN), which claims to make it safer to use notoriously unsecure public wi-fi.
1Password – free or from $2.99 per month
Another well-known password manager brand, 1Password works similarly to LastPass and Dashlane. You create a secure vault to store your passwords and data online. 1Password offers a free trial but not a completely free service. You sign up to the standard tariff ($2.99 per month) or the family package ($4.99 per month), with the latter supporting password sharing with up to five guests.
KeePass – free
Loved by tech enthusiasts, KeePass is a free and open source software database that’s stored locally on your computer, and locked with a master password or key file. You have to extract passwords from the database when you need them and input them manually. It’s predominantly aimed at PC users. You can use it on Apple Macs, but only unofficial KeePass ports are available for Android and iOS mobile devices.
You can see how all these free and paid-for services fared under expert and in-depth testing in our guide to the best password managers.
Should I pay for a password manager?
You don’t have to pay for a password manager, but many try to entice you to upgrade to their premium services with the offer of fancier functions and features.
If any of the below features appeal to you, then it could be worth going for a premium password manager.
- Password sharing This enables you to share passwords and other data securely with your family or trusted contacts. Or, you can grant emergency access to your accounts if required.
- Secure storage You can often store sensitive or private data in your password manager vault, such as a scan of your passport. Then you can access it when you need it.
- Multi-factor authentication Additional multi-factor security, such as a physical USB device or two-factor authentication (2FA) service, usually only work with premium password managers.
A password manager isn’t the only safeguard you’ll need to protect you online – read our guide on how to choose the best antivirus software.