The 6 best password managers: Easily maintain all your logins

Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

May 5, 2022

What is the best password manager? ZDNet's top choice is 1Password. It's a great way to maintain unique, hard-to-guess credentials for every secure site you and your team access daily. If you want more options, here are the 6 best password managers available.

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What is the best password manager? ZDNet's top choice is 1Password. It's a great way to maintain unique, hard-to-guess credentials for every secure site you and your team access daily. If you want more options, here are the 6 best password managers available.


What is the best password manager? 1Password is ZDNet's top choice. Although it is a paid service, it is very safe and easy to use, and it includes a wide range of extra features. It also offers one of the best encryption methods (256-bit AES), a zero-knowledge policy, and two-factor authentication. It's a great all-around password manager.


How did we choose these password managers? In putting together this list of the best password managers, we looked at third-party reviews and opinions from security experts, with a goal of finding the broadest possible selection of products from established developers. We supplemented that knowledge with our own hands-on experience. Four of the password managers in our list offer free versions, typically with some limitations and an option to upgrade to a paid subscription for additional features. All offer both personal and business versions of their products, and some offer family subscriptions that allow multiple user accounts with the option to grant access to credentials for shared services. If you prefer open source software, look at BitWarden, which offers an excellent free version as well as subscription options.

Our capsule descriptions are not intended to be comprehensive but rather are designed to help you create your own shortlist of password manager apps. After you narrow down possible contenders, we encourage you to look at the feature table for each one to confirm that it meets your needs, and to take advantage of free trial options before settling on your final choice. Because security is such an important feature of a password manager, we've tried to address the key question many of our readers ask: Where is your data stored? All of these commercial products offer a cloud sync option; some also include the option to save and sync files locally, so you don't have to trust your online keys to someone else's infrastructure. And rather than summarize the encryption and data handling precautions each developer takes, we've included a link to their online security page so you can read that information and decide for yourself whether you trust their design and encryption decisions.


How do password managers work? All of the password managers run on Windows or Linux PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. To get started, you install a stand-alone app or browser extension and sign in to your account. The app does the work of saving sets of credentials in a database whose contents are protected with high-grade, 256-bit encryption. To unlock the password database, you enter a decryption key (your master password) that only you know. The browser extension or app handles the work of automatically filling in credentials as needed. Different password managers have different user experiences and different feature sets, but all offer subscribers a similar set of core features:

  • A password generator that puts together a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols.

  • Secure sharing of passwords with trusted contacts.

  • Form filling, including the option to automatically enter credit card details.

  • Secure notes.

  • A sync engine that replicates the database across devices, using a cloud service or a local host.

Password managers that sync the saved password database to the cloud use end-to-end encryption. The data is encrypted before it leaves your device, and it stays encrypted as it's transferred to the remote server. When you sign in to the app on your local device, the program sends a one-way hash of the password that identifies you but can't be used to unlock the file itself.