A password manager is a program or application that helps you to properly manage your passwords and other login credentials by storing them securely in an encrypted vault. Typically, password managers are accessed via a master password, but in some cases may require additional authentication, like a code sent to your phone or biometric data such as a face or fingerprint scan.
Much of our daily life takes place online today, so unsurprisingly we are juggling more login credentials than ever before. Despite this, 59% of people are still relying on just their memory to manage their passwords, which is a risky game considering how disruptive and stressful it can be to find ourselves locked out of vital accounts.
So, whether you find yourself drowning in a hundred variations of the same password for each of your accounts (all of them including your first pet’s name!) or you have seen the rise in cybercrime and are concerned about the security of your most important accounts, password management is the way to go. A password manager is the ideal tool to circumvent risk and keep your online accounts safe from hackers and their many tricks—such as password-cracking brute force attacks.
To help you find the right solution for you, we’ve put together a list of the top free password management solutions on the market. These solutions are ideal for those looking to take control of their password security, but who do not require the more advanced functionality offered by paid password managers. To evaluate these free password managers, we’ll be looking at the providers, the feature set offered, and what sets them apart from other free solutions.
What Is A Password Manager?
A password manager is an application that acts like a secure, encrypted vault to store all your passwords. Rather than having to remember a seemingly endless number of passwords for each different account, you can store them all securely with a password manager.
Many popular password managers have additional features to improve the user experience and maintain a good level of security hygiene. These additional features include:
- Complex password generation
- Autofill login details with a single click
- Security hygiene score based upon password strength and reuse
- Monitor dark web to identify if your accounts are at risk
- Multi-factor authentication
- High levels of encryption to secure your vault
Why Should You Use A Password Manager?
The simple answer is security. Storing your passwords in a password manager is much more secure than having a document with all your important login details. Password managers also reduce the need for you to remember each password. As a result, you can have longer, more complex passwords, thereby increasing your account security.
The additional features – dark web monitoring and security hygiene scoring – give you greater visibility into your digital accounts and warn you when you need to make a change.
How Do You Access Your Password Manager?
Ok, password managers don’t eliminate the need to remember passwords, but they do reduce the number dramatically. Rather than remembering every single password you have, you only need to remember a single “master password” to gain access to your password manager. It is essential that this password is strong and complex, otherwise all your passwords are vulnerable.
How Should You Make Sure Your Master Password Is Strong?
A strong password should be:
- Mixture of uppercase and lowercase characters
- Mixture of letters and numbers
- Includes special characters
- Not be based on a piece of information that is available on your social media accounts – such as a pet’s name
- The longer the better – it might take a computer a couple hours to try every combination in an 8-digit password, but a 12-digit would take (hundreds of) years