Keep your passwords secure
Passwords are a pain. It’s easy to mock the people using ‘12345678’ for everything, but creating and recalling strong passwords that are unique to each website is a huge PITA. Thank goodness, then, for password managers: not only do they do the remembering so you don’t have to, but they can usually do all the typing too.
The apps we’ve selected here are all master password managers, and many of them have useful extra features too. Have we missed your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
There are two versions of LastPass – free and premium. Both can store an unlimited number of account logins in a secure vault protected by a master password, will complete online forms for you automatically, and can employ multi-factor authentication.
The premium edition also syncs across multiple devices, stores passwords for desktop programs, and lets you share secured folders with other people. with customizable permissions.
One of LastPass’s best features is its ability to generate strong, unguessable passwords for all your accounts, which it then stores for you. There’s no need to remember long, awkward streams of characters, or re-use the same password for multiple accounts. It’s a class act.
Dashlane is LastPass’s most serious rival, and like LastPass it’s absolutely superb with strong password security, exceptional ease of use and ability to store notes for future reference.
It works on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS and with Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, and like LastPass there’s a premium version that adds unlimited syncing and sharing. That costs US$39.99 (about £30.24, AU$52.86) per year, but the free version provides all the essentials: you get the core password manager, autofill and digital wallet features, all of which work flawlessly. Don’t settle for LastPass without trying Dashlane first, and vice versa.
3. True Key
True Key, by Intel Security, is the successor to the hugely popular PasswordBox. In addition to using a master password to protect all your other passwords, True Key can also recognize your fingerprint or your face for two-factor authentication. It’s free for up to 15 passwords, and after that the premium version is £19.99, (US$19.99, AU$19.95) per year.
Roboform claims to be the world’s best password manager, though its free version only lets you store up to 10 logins and lacks the breadth of features offered by some of its rivals. If you need to store more passwords, a premium account costs US$9.95 (about £7.55, AU£13.20) for the first year, though the mobile apps are free.
It’s available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and is a good option for anybody who wants a simple and secure way to sync passwords between desktop, laptop and mobile devices.
5. Keeper Desktop
Keeper is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Linux, and its autofill extension works in all the major browsers. The free version is limited to a single device with local password storage, and the £20.99 (US$29.99, about AU$39.62) Individual plan offers unlimited password storage and syncing, fingerprint authentication and a web app. There’s also a Family plan at £44.99 (US$59.99, about AU$79.17) per year for five users.
In addition to passwords there’s also a digital vault for secure storage of photos, videos and documents, all of which are backed up securely if you’re a subscriber. If you own a smartwatch, you can use it for two-factor authentication, which is a nice touch.
6. Password Depot
Password Depot offers a free 30-day trial for 20 devices, after which you’ll be asked to hand over US$29.95 (about £22.62, AU$39.52) for the full version. The app enables you to generate and store passwords and move them to a USB device or phone as well as on your PC, and it can store credit card numbers securely.
The PC app is complemented by mobile apps for iOS and Android, and there’s an option to attach files to password entries that you can use to encrypt and securely store important documents. It also enables you to import passwords from other apps, which is handy if you’ve fallen out of love with an existing password manager.
7. KeePass Password Safe
It isn’t the prettiest password manager around, but KeePass Password Safe is both free and open source with strong security, multiple user support and a whole bunch of plugins to expand the app further. The app is small enough to run from USB without installing on a PC, it can input from and output to a wide range of file formats and there are stacks of customization options to play with.
The fact that KeePass is open source means anybody can inspect the code for potential weaknesses, which means that any security issues can be identified and fixed quickly. It’s a great little app, if a bit intimidating for absolute beginners.
1Password is free for 30 days and then US$2.99 (about £2.26, AU$3.95) per month for an individual or US$4.99 (about £3.77, AU$6.59) for a family of up to five people. The app is available for Mac, Windows, iOS and Android, includes 1GB of secure file storage and keeps track of your item history for a full year, enabling you to recover deleted items or passwords. The family version adds document and password sharing, permission control for other family members and account recovery for family members who forget their logins.
9. Sticky Password
Sticky Password comes from the team behind AVG Antivirus, so you can be confident that security is its top priority. There are two versions of Sticky Password: free and premium. The latter adds cloud syncing and backup and costs £29.99 (about US$39.64, AU$52.44) a year.
The app works on PC, Mac, Android and iOS, supports fingerprint authentication on mobile, is available as a portable USB version and offers lots of synchronisation options including Wi-Fi syncing with local devices. It doesn’t support the Edge browser just yet but it will once the Anniversary Update introduces extension support.
10. iCloud Keychain
If you’re on a Mac, don’t forget the password manager you already have. Apple’s own iCloud Keychain may not have all the advanced features of 1Password or LastPass, but it does a perfectly decent job of generating and managing strong passwords as well as securely storing and using your credit card details, logins for various servers, wireless network accounts and anything else involving logins.
It’s an Apple-only affair – iOS, OS X and macOS are the only supported platforms – but if you don’t need PC or Android access then that’s not a problem.
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