Looking for the best password manager? These seven password managers will help keep your login credentials safe and in one easy-to-use place.
Updated: July 5, 2016
It seems you can’t go anywhere online without a password. Small business owners need to remember login credentials for payroll software, email accounts, ecommerce merchant platforms, online banking, and wireless security systems, just to name a few. Keeping track of all those passwords often leads small business owners to take one of two actions:
- You use one password for everything, which means your business is one password hack away from total annihilation.
- You keep your passwords in an unprotected spreadsheet—where just about anyone can easily access the virtual keys to your kingdom.
Here’s a better plan: use a password manager. These password managers each offer a free version, but consider this: if ever there were a time to shell out a few bucks for software that meets all your needs, this is it. The free versions typically cover only one device; do you or your employees need to access password-protected data from both desktop and mobile devices? That convenience and flexibility may come at a (small) cost.
If you always access data from only one device, then you can look at device-specific solutions. If you use a PC, and an iPad, and an Android phone (or some other mix of cross-platform operating systems), then you need a password manager that works across those multiple devices.
Here are seven of the best password managers for small business—and they’re all affordable.
Dashlane lets you add passwords manually, or you can choose to save them automatically from your web browser. You can reduce login time and maintain security with Dashlane’s automatic login feature, which includes support for websites with multiple fields.
This free password manager sends you an alert when any website you access via password suffers breach; that feature lets you change your passwords in case they were compromised. You can also change passwords directly from Dashlane, which makes it easy to quickly swap out old passwords for new ones on a regular basis. If you’re not sure how secure your passwords really are, Dashlane password manager’s dashboard highlights which passwords could be stronger.
Dashlane is free to use on a single device and compatible with Windows, Apple, and Android devices. The premium plan costs $39.99/year, which includes syncing across multiple devices and automatic backups. Team pricing is also available.
Designed for Windows, the Soft-o Free Password Manager features an intuitive, uncluttered, and easy-to-navigate interface. It’s also simple to customize, a handy feature if you also want to store credit card numbers or other credentials in the same program.
Creating strong passwords can be a real chore, especially if you manage or access lots of websites. Fortunately, you can set up Soft-o’s password generator to exclude certain characters or even use a template for logins that require a specific format.
The Soft-o Free Password Manager alerts you to any expired passwords each time you start Windows. You can even run the application from a USB flash drive, giving you the flexibility to securely access passwords no matter where your work takes you.
The Soft-o Free Password Manager works with Windows 7 and Windows 8.
With one-click login for saved websites and a convenient start page that puts your most frequently used websites in one place, RoboForm is built for speed. Online shoppers will appreciate RoboForm’s form-filler feature, where one mouse click quickly inserts the right mailing and billing address information.
A search tool lets you sift through your usernames and logins. If you prefer an extra layer of password security, Roboform’ free password manager lets you implement a multi-factor login for your master password.
RoboForm works with Android, Apple, and Windows, and you can also load it onto a USB flash drive. The free (and ad-free) version supports use and syncing across multiple devices, and you can choose whether to store data in the cloud or locally. If you need more than 10 logins, consider the paid plan, which costs $19.95 per year.
If you’re interested in an open source password manager, then consider KeePass. A flexible, powerful, and free password manager, KeePass lets you set up an installation that requires a master password and a key file to unlock your password database.
If you already store your passwords in a spreadsheet or other file, KeePass supports imports using a number of common file types. Once you enter your passwords into the free password manager, you can easily organize passwords into groups for faster retrieval. Need a new password? Simply use the password generator.
You can drag-and-drop any field from KeePass into other programs. The free password manager also supports copying values straight to the Windows clipboard and hot keys that auto-type selected sequences.
Completely free and designed for most flavors of computers (Linux, Mac, OS X, and Windows), KeePass also supports Android, Apple, BlackBerry, and Windows devices.
LastPass offers a free edition that you can use on one device, and it’s a great way to test the application to see if it suits your needs. You can upgrade to the Premium edition ($12 per year) and be able to synch across most desktop and mobile devices. LastPass Premium supports a range of phones (including Windows Phone), and it provides plug-ins for it for most browsers.
Password management takes place in the LastPass vault, where you review and organize your stored data, and then share it with others if needed. LastPass browser extensions simplify managing passwords from within your favorite browser by both capturing new passwords and entering existing ones.
The LastPass password manager secures your data with a high level of encryption on your devices and, if you upgrade to Premium, you can configure two-factor authentication for logging into your account. When you install LastPass, it can automatically import passwords from your browser into the vault where they’re easy to find and to review. You can also launch a website directly from the vault and LastPass will create unique passwords for you. LastPass is easy to setup, easy to use, and it’s a good choice if you use multiple devices.
1Password offers a free 30-day trial, but after that it charges a (comparatively) hefty $5 a month for what it calls 1Password Families. You get both desktop and mobile apps, free upgrades, web access, and sharing for up to five people.
Somewhat confusingly, the only other paid option is 1Password, a standalone desktop license for one person ($64.99). It includes only basic mobile apps. If you want pro features, you buy them through an in-app purchase.
You can install 1Password as a browser extension for handy access to your passwords and other info, such as credit card numbers. 1Password can also generate passwords for you.
If you using 1Password (not the Families version), you can store your data offline or sync it via Dropbox, your Wi-Fi network, or iCloud—the password manager does not provide its own sync service. You can easily export your data from 1Password so you can access it in other applications.
1Password works with OS X and Windows although, in the case of 1Password Families, the Windows version is a beta only. It also offers Android and iOS apps and extensions for most popular browsers.
If you use only one computer and you don’t need to access passwords on a mobile device, then you can use an encrypted notepad style application, such as Steganos Locknote, an open source application for the PC.
You can store all kinds of information in this file, including login and password information. The password-protected program, a single executable file, contains the application and all your data. When you run the program it functions like a basic text editor with a search tool. The solution isn’t fancy but it’s free, portable and makes sense for some people.
Editor’s Note: Helen Bradley contributed content for this article. Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology
magazines including BizTech, Processor, and For The Record. She has
covered technology issues for publications in other industries, from food service to
insurance, and she also writes a recurring column in Integrated Systems Contractormagazine.
Do you have a comment or question about
this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the
SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!
Julie Knudson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in technology