This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
Let’s be honest, passwords are starting to rule our lives. Or more specifically, having to create strong, complex passwords — and then actually remembering what those passwords are — has become one of modern life’s most arduous chores. We all know that you shouldn’t use the same password for everything because it’s not safe, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying as you’re mentally shifting through every password and password variation you’ve ever created as you try to log into a bank account or online shop.
This warning is definitely true though: According to Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report(Opens in a new tab), 81% of hacking related breaches involved the misuse of stolen or weak credentials — meaning crappy, overused passwords. And we probably don’t have to tell you this, but having your money or identity stolen isn’t much fun.
And even if you do manage to come up with passwords of Olympic-level strength, remembering your complex, unique passwords for dozens of different sites is nearly impossible, especially when password requirements sound more like the recipe for a potion. This is where password managers come in, because without one, logging in usually goes something like this: You enter 10 different passwords and they’re all wrong, you try to change your password to a new one that you know, and just like that, “new password cannot be the same as old password.”
How does a password manager work?
Thankfully, with a decent password manager in place, all you have to do is remember one master password and they’ll autofill the rest for you, plus more security stuff you probably didn’t even think about. Think of it like keeping a list of passwords in your phone’s notes, except losing your phone won’t mean that your entire life is about to be hacked.
A decent password manager will also allow you to secure your devices — like your Kindle or Apple Watch — and even your photos and other private documents that you won’t want easily accessible on your computer or smartphone. Think of it as a form of personal encryption to add even more security to your digital life.
What should you consider when choosing a password manager?
There are plenty of password managers out there, but before you go ahead and pick a favourite, you should consider a few things:
Device usage — Do you want passwords to be remembered on your phone and laptop? If so, you’ll need to make sure the password manager allows syncing on multiple devices. As you’ll see, most free versions other than LastPass do not allow more than one device.
Permissions — Are you storing passwords just for personal use, or do you need to share with a group?
Two-factor authentication — Using the Google Authenticator app, an external device, or something similar, does the password manager require a second form of insurance to make sure that it’s actually you trying to log in? Without this, if someone gets ahold of your master password, they have access to all of your stuff.
Emergency contacts — If you forget your master password, you need to make sure you’re not completely screwed. Many password managers are equipped with emergency contacts, which are basically the password version of writing someone into your will. Here is where you give a trusted friend, family member, or boss access to your master password in the event that you can’t provide it.
Consider all of these points before pinpointing the password manager that you think will work best for you.
What is the best password manager?
Interested in employing a password manager to help make your online life a little easier? We’ve sifted through a whole bunch of password manager programs out there so you don’t have to. Below, we’re listing some of the best password managers and exactly what each plan offers, so you can easily find the one that best fits your individual needs.
These are the best password managers in 2023.