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.

May 31

Image by WOCInTech via nappy

TL;DR: Free online password managers and their premium versions can save you tons of time while adding security. Learn more about password manager features and find great deals on solutions here. 

You may have graduated from writing down logins on a bunch of sticky notes to storing usernames and passwords in one locked Notes app file, but there’s a better way.

Before diving into a search for the best free online password managers and the best password manager deals, let's look at some of the advantages of using one.

What is 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. A reliable manager can also create unique, random strings of characters for all your accounts and store them in a super-secret (read: encrypted, password-protected) digital safe.

Password Manager Benefits

Logging into our various accounts every day gets old fast, so convenience is a top reason to rely on either free online password managers or more robust paid ones, 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.

Keep more of your time free with online password managers

Once you’ve got your usernames and passwords set up in the manager app, you can likely also set up automatic login and more helpful password manager features. 

When you visit a site with saved credentials, the auto-fill password manager will populate the text fields and log you right in. If auto-login isn’t available, autofill probably is, saving you at least one click of the mouse every time.

Know what else paid and free online password managers 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.

Mitigate risk with password security software

Hanging on to weak and reused passwords is a good way to put yourself or your business at risk of a hack—there’s only so much a password manager can do.

A reliable online password manager can, however, detect those weak or reused passwords, which is a feature you won’t typically find with free built-in browser password storage. 

While encryption makes it harder for hackers to get your password, the often-offered cross-device password sync option can make a user's life far easier.

With that feature, simply 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.

Password Manager Risks To Consider

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

Here we'll take some space to discuss security, master password management, and deciding between free online password managers and paid ones.

Server security

It's worth doing a little research on any password manager you're considering to glean if they seem to operate on safe servers. 

For a user's security, an 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

The basket carrying all of your eggs

Then there’s your master password. It has to be unique and strong. 

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 could potentially access 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 there too.

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.

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.

Accounting for outside threats

You should also keep an eye out for phishing attacks. 

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.

Do You Even Need a Password? A Note on Passkeys.

Google describes a passkey as "a safer and easier alternative to passwords."

Via your home device, you can set up a passkey to grant you access to apps and websites by using a proxy for your typical password—i.e. a biometric sensor like facial recognition, a PIN, or a pattern.

People who work online can greatly benefit from passkeys in similar ways as they might with free online password managers. Both solutions are designed to be timesavers that can liberate you from having to remember passwords across different accounts, especially when you use several in a given day. 

On the flip side, passkeys might not be ideal if you share computers or switch them up frequently for work.

To help stay safe, we recommend keeping a password manager account that you trust can to ensure easier access no matter where you're logging in from, or what kind of alternatives to passwords you may use. 

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 online password managers, but they will have limited features, so always cross-reference what’s offered between versions.

A note on password manager 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) the military as well as banks, VPNs, email clients, and others.

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 XChaCha20 but it’s not widely available in password managers just yet.

NordPass is one password manager that does implement XChaCha20, and you can try it for a year at a discount.

Choosing a free online password manager vs. a paid one

Free online password managers can be helpful for those on a budget and anyone looking to test out password management for the first time. It can also come with some limitations.

Let's look at an example we love...

Proton Pass 

Proton Free is a well-respected online password manager with a fantastic free version that comes as highly recommended as its paid ones.

This PCMag review notes, "The free version of the password manager syncs unlimited passwords across all platforms, which is great, but the premium version doesn't offer many helpful extras beyond an email alias feature."

The lesson is, if you want to try the reputable Proton Pass, it may as well be the free version. It comes with:

  • Industry-standard encryption: AES 256-bit
  • Advanced security with 2FA and Pass Monitor
  • Easy sign-in with advanced autofill technology 
  • Share easier with vaults and one-click access 

You can get Proton Free without having to put down a credit card number today. 

Expanding your free online password manager horizons

The great thing about a free service is that you can pick it up and put it down whenever you want without guilt. For those who are curious about finding an ideal cost-free solution, there are quite a few well-liked options to consider. 

Here are some more free online password managers to check out:

  • KeePass this free open-source password manager has been providing a reliable no-frills solution for over two decades. KeePass offers users robust security settings and it can be remarkably customizable with plug-ins. 
  • Norton Password Manager is free and rated an average of 4.5/5 stars on the App Store with over 28K reviews. This solution features two-factor authentication and zero-knowledge encryption alongside sync passwords, biometric unlock, and password assessments. 
  • LogMeOnce offers a free version of its premium password manager app. This unpaid solution comes with unlimited passwords, 2FA security, and a user-friendly interface. 

Some Great Deals on Password Managers

At the end of the day, like with any other software, finding the right password manager features takes examining as many options as you can and determining what best suits your business and personal needs. 

Of course, you know we have some suggestions. Take a look at these examples of some of our favorite password manager deals: 

NordPass

TechRadar wrote, "Whatever platform you're using, NordPass gives you all the core functions you'd expect."

Ideal for professionals looking for a short-term solution that's affordable and well-liked, NordPass offers these features: 

  • State-of-the-art encryption technology: XChaCha2
  • Zero-knowledge architecture
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Backups and sync
  • Auto-fill forms
  • Award-winning customer support

You can try NordPass at a discount with one of the following online password manager deals: 

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

$29.99$59.88
See Deal

Password Boss

Rated 4/5 stars by PCMag, Password Boss is an ideal solution for growing and small businesses with support for unlimited devices at an affordable flat rate.

Password Boss maximizes security and ease of use with the following features: 

  • 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
  • Emergency access
  • Remote device delete
  • Import data from other password managers

Give Password Boss a shot with one of these discounted subscriptions: 

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

Password Boss Premium: Lifetime Subscription (Unlimited Devices)

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

$34.99$150.00
140 Reviews
See Deal

SplashID

Named a Top 6 Password Manager by CSO Online, SplashID is considered one of the most trusted online password managers. 

One recent review on StackSocial explained its ease of use well by writing, "I can enter all my sites quickly because it keeps all my passwords, on the other hand, I can consult my important information anywhere and anytime through my smartphone."

It also comes with: 

  • Industry-standard encryption: AES 256-bit
  • No data saved on servers—all stored on your local device
  • Two-step verification
  • Sync across devices via the cloud or Wi-Fi
  • Secure sharing of saved items
  • Automated backups and restoration

To try it out, you can grab a lifetime subscription to SplashID Pro on sale for only $40 (reg. $59). 

The Most Trusted Name in Password Management

SplashID Pro: Lifetime Subscription

The Most Trusted Name in Password Management

$39.99$59.97
11 Reviews
See Deal

Sticky Password

Sticky Password is another robust online password manager with extra, secure features like dark web monitoring powered by ARC.

CNET put it well writing that, "Sticky Password takes security seriously." You can find out for yourself by checking out this online password manager features:

  • Industry-standard encryption: AES 256-bit
  • Biometric authentication
  • Automatic website login for some sites
  • Choice of cloud-based or local storage
  • Secure sharing of passwords
  • Works across devices
  • Auto-fill forms 
  • Strong password generator 

If this password solution seems to fit your needs, pick up a lifetime subscription to Sticky Password is down to $40 for a limited time (reg. $199).

Never Forget Another Password with This Award-Winning Password Manager

Sticky Password Premium: Lifetime Subscription

Never Forget Another Password with This Award-Winning Password Manager

$29.99$199.99
229 Reviews
See Deal

Protect Your Accounts Beyond Password Manager Deals

An online password manager benefits businesses and professionals who need to keep an array of passwords organized, secure, and accessible regularly. 

Any company that is using an online password manager is also conducting enough business online that they should be considering additional cybersecurity solutions. 

For example, you could and should complement your secure password storage with a VPN well-designed for your small business, while also promoting safe online work practices with employees like regularly backing up work on cloud platforms. 

StackSocial works with a variety of merchants and brands to bring you deals worth talking about. We may earn a commission on purchases made through our links. Prices subject to change.

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