They’re safe—if you remember one key rule.
Security experts love to give the same bits of advice over and over: Never click suspicious links. Use a different password for every account. Always heal your party members before a boss battle.
But regarding that second point, who would be able to remember a few dozen unique passwords for each account they own? Maybe seven-time NBA All-Star and Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry “Doctor Memory” Lucas, but probably not the average Jolene.
But that’s where all these “password managers” you keep hearing about come into play. A password manager can be a valuable tool to help you keep track of every password you’ve created for every account log-in you need.
But are password managers safe? Are they worth using? Are they cheap? Would you like a cheese danish?
I’d like one, too, but in the meantime, let’s tackle these questions one at a time and take a look at a few popular password management programs while we’re at it.
Are Password Managers Safe?
Password managers are tools, programs, applications or extensions designed to store and encrypt all your passwords for the online accounts you use.
For most skeptics, their biggest concern is that literally all their passwords are in one convenient location, and any unauthorized access will lead to total devastation. It sounds a lot like “counting all your chickens in one basket” or whatever the outdated phrase is.
The basket in question, however, is more like a secure, impenetrable vault guarded by a sphinx who will ask you some crazy riddle about “walking on three legs at night,” but the answer isn’t what you think it is, and if you get it wrong, you’re banished from your home dimension forever.
Maybe our simile isn’t entirely accurate, but we’re trying to say these password management systems are pretty safe. Web-based password managers store your various passwords in encrypted databases, while others encrypt your password data onto your device’s hard drive. Therefore, if a hacker, cybercriminal or even Big Brother wants to access your passwords, there’s virtually no chance of them taking your data unless they know your master password.
Of course, it’s up to you to make sure your master password is too strong to crack. Don’t use something like “shadow123” or “passwordlol.” And definitely don’t write your password on a Post-it note and stick it on your monitor. The bottom line is password manager tools are safe as long as you choose a solid master password. If you feel you need extra protection, some password managers require two-factor authentication.
So Which Password Manager Is the Best?
We can’t say for sure which password manager tool is the best, but we’ll recommend a few strong options.
» KeePass is a free, open-source password manager that receives frequent updates to maintain security for its users. While it may not have the cleanest aesthetic, it certainly does its job.
» LastPass offers both a free version and a premium version. Many sources will claim that LastPass is the best password manager you’ll find.
»Dashlane is probably the biggest rival to LastPass. It’s easy to use, it boasts great password security and it allows you to store notes for future reference.