Best Password Managers 2020 | Reviews by Wirecutter


1Password password manager
Photo: Andrew Cunningham

Our pick

1Password

1Password’s apps are attractive and easy to use. Newbies will like its plain-language security recommendations and user-friendly interface, while the technically inclined will appreciate its advanced features and security.

1Password offers the best combination of compatibility, ease of use, features, and price of any paid password manager we tested. It has polished apps that work on just about any computer, tablet, phone, or Web browser. Its Watchtower feature helps you identify and change weak, reused, or compromised passwords, and 1Password walks you through correcting those problems in clear, easy-to-follow language. 1Password protects your passwords with strong encryption and good security practices, and although the default security setting locks 1Password more frequently than we think most people will want to put up with, that’s an easy setting to change. 1Password costs $36 a year for individuals or $60 a year for families of two to five—on the high end of average, for paid password managers—though it does offer free accounts for politicians and activists as well as journalists.

1Password is compatible with all the operating systems and browsers that most people use: Standalone apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android all allow you to view and edit all the items in your vault, and the iOS and Android apps can replace those operating systems’ more rudimentary password-saving features (though you’ll need to use the desktop apps or the Web interface at my.1password.com to view and act on security suggestions). 1Password’s desktop apps for Windows and Mac are also far superior to Bitwarden’s, which require the Web app for features beyond password generation and search.

A screenshot of the user interface of 1Password, showing the user's vaults, existing logins, and detail information for Facebook.
1Password’s apps are well designed and consistent across Windows, macOS, and supported browsers.

1Password’s browser support is comprehensive too, if a bit confusing. The normal 1Password browser extension works with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Microsoft Edge but requires the 1Password 7 app to be installed on your computer for you to use it. But if you use Chrome (or Chrome OS), Firefox, or Opera, you can instead download 1Password X, which does the same things but doesn’t require the desktop app to be installed.

1Password’s user interface is otherwise easy to understand, even for people who are new to a password manager, and you can quickly view and change saved passwords and other information. Your default “vault” stores login information, credit card numbers, and data for auto-filling forms. And if sorting items alphabetically or by tag isn’t good enough, you can create any number of vaults to organize your information (if you want to store logins for your personal accounts and work accounts separately, for example). This is especially important for 1Password Families or Business accounts, where you might want to share the contents of one vault with other 1Password users while keeping other vaults private.

A screenshot of a reminder in 1Password alerting the user of the two-factor authentication option available for the user's stored Dropbox account information.
1Password’s Watchtower feature makes detailed and straightforward security recommendations as you use the app.

1Password’s Watchtower feature—which is both a dedicated section of the app and a collective name for all the ways in which 1Password tries to protect your logins—identifies weak and reused passwords, old passwords, passwords for websites that don’t use the secure HTTPS protocol, passwords for sites that have been hacked, passwords that are about to expire, and accounts for which two-factor authentication is available but has not been enabled. In all cases, the app offers straightforward directions for solving the problem.

All versions of 1Password support logging in with your face or fingerprint, depending on what biometric authentication options your computer, phone, or tablet offers. We recommend using this feature on iOS and Android especially, where typing in a long master password multiple times a day will cost you time and annoy you. Both apps can replace iOS and Android’s built-in password autofill features, and can work in apps as well as on websites.

Price (one person) Family plan
1Password $36/year $60/year for up to five people
LastPass Premium $36/year $48/year for up to six people
Dashlane Premium $60/year $90/year for up to five people
Bitwarden Premium $10/year It’s complicated
RoboForm Everywhere $24/year $48/year for up to five people
Enpass Premium $12 each for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android None
Sticky Password Premium $30/year $30/year per person
(“Premium for teams” plan)
NordPass Premium $36/year None

Prices current as of October 19, 2020. Taxes not included.

1Password costs $36 a year for one person or $60 a year for families (regardless of whether your family has as few as two or as many as five people); it’s more expensive than some of our other finalists. LastPass Premium costs the same amount for individuals but only $48 for families of up to six. Bitwarden’s free plan has sharing with one other person built in, but if you want to share with more people than that, you need to sign up for a family plan for $12 a year. The family plan is different from Bitwarden’s premium plan, though, which costs $10 a year per person and most notably adds password-strength checkups and monitoring.

When you set up a 1Password family plan, you put your passwords and other information in your shared vault instead of your personal vault to give everyone else on your plan access. “Family organizers,” including the 1Password account that created your family’s account plus anyone they designate as a “family organizer,” can recover the accounts of other family members if they forget their master password or secret key, which is useful for kids or less technically inclined folks.

1Password includes a few features for the privacy-conscious. By default, all of your information is backed up onto 1Password’s servers; it’s protected under end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption, which means that no one but you can read it on 1Password’s servers (including 1Password employees) or when the data is in transit between 1Password’s servers and your device. (For details, you can read more about 1Password’s security model.) This is the option most people should take. But it’s also possible to create separate vaults that 1Password stores on your device locally with the same encryption, keeping your data off 1Password’s servers entirely.

If you prefer to use a local vault and you want to avoid 1Password’s subscription fees, standalone licenses are available for macOS and Windows. You can get them by downloading and opening the 1Password app, clicking Purchase 1Password in the menu, and clicking the tiny Need a license? hyperlink in the window that pops up. But most people shouldn’t bother with this—a standalone 1Password license for Windows or Mac costs $50, and you can’t use a Windows license to run the Mac version of 1Password or vice versa. You can’t use the more powerful 1Password X extension in Firefox or Chrome, and if (or when) the next major version of 1Password is released, you’d have to buy a new license all over again (whereas subscribers can upgrade automatically).

Other handy 1Password features include 1 GB of secure online storage for sensitive files, such as scans of sensitive documents, and Travel Mode, which allows you to temporarily remove selected vaults from your device if you’re worried about protecting your data while traveling abroad or crossing borders. 1Password integrates with Privacy, a service for creating one-time use credit cards, which is useful when shopping online at sites you’re not confident in or for testing out subscription services you don’t want to auto-renew.

No password manager has a foolproof introduction that teaches you everything you need to know, but 1Password’s extensive support articles—which usually have large screenshots or video tutorials—make it a solid choice for people new to password managers. It’s easier to learn than most free options, including Bitwarden, which doesn’t walk you through the setup process or include visuals in its how-to guides.



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