Is a Password Manager Your Key to Hassle-Free Online Security?

What a password manager can—and can't—do for you, plus some of our top picks.

Feb 7

Image by WOCInTech via nappy

You may have graduated from writing down logins on a bunch of sticky notes to storing a bunch of logins in one locked Notes app file, but there’s definitely a better way to handle your account user names and passwords. From easy password generation to secure storage, there are many advantages to using a password manager.

In case you aren’t in the know, a password manager is like your own personal superhero for keeping online accounts safe and easy (for you) to access. It’s a software application that helps you generate, store, and securely manage your passwords. It creates unique, random strings of characters for all your accounts and stores them in a super-secret (read: encrypted, password-protected) digital safe.

Reasons to Use a Password Manager

Logging into our various accounts every day has become a bit cumbersome, and convenience is a top reason to rely on a password manager, but it’s not the only reason. There’s also the security aspect (more on that later), automation, and cross-device syncing.

With a password manager, you only need to remember your master password—the one login credential that gatekeeps all the others. And once you’ve got your usernames and passwords set up in the manager app, you can likely also set up automatic login: When you visit a site with saved credentials, the password manager will autofill the text fields and log you right in. And if auto-login isn’t available, autofill probably is, saving you at least one click of the mouse every time. Know what else it can fill in? Address forms, payment info, and more. Online shopping will be so much easier.

Of course, a password manager is meant to do more than remember your login details. To get the most out of it, you should use it to generate new, super-secure, individual passwords for all of your accounts. Hanging on to weak and reused passwords is a good way to put yourself at risk of a hack—there’s only so much a password manager can do. One of the things it can? Detect those weak or reused passwords, which is a feature you won’t typically find with free built-in browser password storing. 

Another benefit is incredibly easy cross-device syncing. Download the password manager’s app or browser extension on your laptop, phone, and tablet, log in with your master password, and you’re good to go wherever you go.

What Are the Risks of Password Managers?

In general, password managers are considered secure—we wouldn’t taut them otherwise—but there are a few potential pitfalls to be aware of.

The actual password manager’s technology and platform need to be exceptionally secure. If the server or software is hacked, rare but possible, there could be a pretty significant data breach

Then there’s your master password. It has to be good. If you recycle one of your super-easy-to-remember passwords of yore, the whole thing is kind of pointless. Anyone with your master password will have full access to your data vault, and if you’re taking full advantage of the password manager, you’ll probably have credit card info, travel ID numbers, and other sensitive information stored in there.

The flip side of this is what happens if you cannot remember your master password: losing access to your most important digital details. Find the happy medium between a strong, unique master password you can remember and something far too easy for someone else to crack. One suggestion? Opt for a passphrase instead of a password. And do not forget to set up account recovery (most password managers offer it) via a separate email address, security questions, trusted contact, or whatever other option you may have.

Another thing worth knowing is that phishing attacks aren’t unheard of. When hackers try to trick you into entering your master password on a site that looks like your password manager’s but is a fake, you could be in for a huge hassle or worse.

The best way to avoid this? Always navigate to the password manager’s site yourself instead of clicking questionable links you receive via email or text. All of that being said, as long as you choose a reputable password manager and take precautions to protect your master password, the risks are fairly minimal. As cybernews reports, the vast majority of cybersecurity specialists agree that password managers are the most secure way to protect your passwords.

Choosing a Password Manager

So what should you look for when comparing password managers? Here are some key features to pay attention to:

  • Security: strong encryption, multi-factor authentication, biometric login
  • Ease of use: if it’s too difficult or confusing to use, you won’t be able to benefit from its power or you may not bother to use it at all
  • Cross-device syncing: a major convenience
  • Password generation and weak/reused password detection: let the manager do the heavy lifting
  • Form filling: you can streamline lots of online activities with a password manager that can store (and help you fill in) addresses, payment details, ID numbers, and more
  • Password sharing: an excellent feature for families who need to access the same accounts
  • Cost: probably a no-brainer, but you’ll want a password manager you can afford (we have some suggestions). Yes, there are free options, but they will have limited features, so always cross-reference what’s offered between versions.

A note on encryption

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is probably what you're most familiar with as far as specs go: AES 256-bit, for example. It's a common type of encryption that comes in different key lengths (that’s where the numbers come in). AES 256-bit is considered an industry standard and is often referred to as military-grade encryption. It’s quite strong and widely used by (as you may have guessed) military operations as well as government entities, banks, VPNs, email clients, firewalls, and more.

You may come across 128-bit or 192-bit options, but it’s best to avoid those as they aren’t as strong as 256-bit. There’s also a newer, stronger option on the table called XChaCha2, but it’s not widely available in password managers just yet. NordPass is one password manager that does implement it, and you can try it for a year at a discount.

Some Great Deals on Password Managers

Ultimately, you’ll need to figure out what your must-haves are in a password manager and make your choice based on that. Of course, you know we have some suggestions. Take a look at the features and specs of some of our faves to find the best option for your needs.


  • Industry standard encryption: AES 256-bit
  • No data saved on servers—all stored on your local device
  • Data breach alerts
  • Find accounts that support 2FA but aren't set up
  • Sync via iCloud, Dropbox, WebDAV, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Box
  • Cross-platform availability on all devices
  • Auto-fill forms
  • Vaults for personal, family, and work data
  • Biometric login
  • Find weak, duplicate, and compromised passwords
  • Import data from other password managers
  • 4.4/5 App Store rating
  • 4.4/5 Trustpilot rating

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  • State-of-the-art encryption technology: XChaCha2
  • Zero-knowledge architecture
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Backups and sync
  • Auto-fill forms
  • Award-winning customer support
  • New features on the way
  • 4/5 PCMag rating
  • 4.5/5 TechRadar rating

Try NordPass for a year for just $30 to see if this password manager from a trusted brand is right for you (49% off).

Protect & Manage Your Passwords in a Secure, Encrypted Digital Vault for Hassle-Free Yet Safe Logins

NordPass Password Manager: 1-Yr Subscription

Protect & Manage Your Passwords in a Secure, Encrypted Digital Vault for Hassle-Free Yet Safe Logins

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Password Boss

  • Industry standard encryption: AES 256-bit and SSL/TLS
  • Automatic website login
  • Data breach alerts
  • Two-step verification
  • Unlimited sharing of saved items
  • Sync across devices
  • Auto-fill forms
  • Emergency access
  • Remote device delete
  • Import data from other password managers
  • 4/5 PCMag rating
  • 4.4/5 StackSocial customer rating

Check out a lifetime Password Boss Premium subscription for unlimited devices at only $35 (a $499 value).

Total Organization, Total Security: One Master Password to Rule Them All

Password Boss Premium: Lifetime Subscription (Unlimited Devices)

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137 Reviews
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  • Industry standard encryption: AES 256-bit
  • No data saved on servers—all stored on your local device
  • Two-step verification
  • Sync via cloud of Wi-Fi
  • Secure sharing of saved items
  • Sync across devices
  • Automated backups and restoration
  • Named a Top 6 Password Manager by CSO Online
  • 5/5 StackSocial customer rating

A lifetime of SplashID Pro is currently on sale for only $40, a savings of 79%.

The Most Trusted Name in Password Management

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Sticky Password

  • Industry standard encryption: AES 256-bit
  • Automatic website login for some sites
  • Choose cloud-based or local storage
  • Secure sharing of passwords
  • Works across devices
  • Auto-fill forms 
  • PCMag Editors' Choice awardee
  • 4.5/5 StackSocial customer rating

The best deal here right now, a lifetime subscription to Sticky Password is down to $30 for a limited time (reg. $199).

Never Forget Another Password with This Award-Winning Password Manager

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215 Reviews
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Prices subject to change.

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