Password Manager Software

While we're always encouraging you to use strong passwords, and you already know you should use different passwords for different sites to protect your personally-identifiable information, we recognize that it's challenging to remember multiple password-user name combinations and what goes with which site. So we've done some research and come up with a list of password manager applications we feel comfortable recommending to securely store all your passwords in a single location, which is much safer and more efficient than Post-It notes, browser caches, or Word documents.

Most password managers support the following functionality:

  • The use of many different user names without your having to remember them all
  • Unique logins for each account
  • Random password generators that create strong passwords
  • Storage of web addresses associated with the login pages of different accounts
  • Multiple browsers and operating systems, including mobile devices
  • Synchronization of account information between devices using an online storage service like Dropbox
  • Security of data used for synchronization

Our top recommendations

Software

Cost

Win

Mac

iPhone/iPad

Android

Sync

KeePassX

Free

Y

Y

Y ($)

Y

Dropbox

1Password

Fee

Y

Y

Y ($$)

Y

Dropbox

Lastpass

Free

Browser

Browser

Y ($)

Y ($)

Requires Premium Account

Best bets:

  • If you have a PC, go for KeePassX or Lastpass
  • If you have a Mac, go for KeePassX or 1Password

Click the name of the software package to go to that product's website and download the application. Follow the instructions provided on that site/in the software to install the application and configure it to store your password. You can set up a Dropbox account through the Dropbox website.

Be sure to choose a strong Master Pass Phrase for your accounts but remember that, if you lose it, you will lose access to all the passwords stored in the account. Check our tips for creating a strong password.

For more information on password managers, check out these articles:

Risk assessment of storing encrypted password file in on-line storage:

http://seekerblog.com/2011/03/23/the-only-secure-password-is-the-one-you-can%E2%80%99t-remember/

Comparative reviews:

http://www.40tech.com/2011/05/16/lastpass-vs-1password-whose-syncing-method-is-more-secure/

http://www.40tech.com/2009/06/30/password-manager-shootout-ewallet-vs-keepass-vs-lastpass/