Review: The best password managers for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices
6 local and cloud-based password managers make passwords stronger and online life easier for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users
If you're more concerned about the security of your password vault than mobile clients and device synchronization, you'll be pleased to know that KeePass supports multiple authentication methods by default. KeePass database files can be locked by a combination of password, key file, and Windows user account. With a key file stored on removable media such as a USB thumb drive, two-factor authentication can be used to secure access to your critical passwords.
The biggest downside to KeePass is complexity. Getting all of the advanced functionality offered by the competition will require quite a bit of research, setup, and maintenance. While KeePass is a great solution for fans of open source, maximum flexibility, and free software, it is certainly not as straightforward as some of the cloud-based services listed here.
LastPass may be the most popular password manager in this review, due to a rich set of features, support for a wide range of mobile platforms, and straightforward licensing, not to mention aggressive marketing. Unlike KeePass, LastPass is decidedly cloud-centric, using its own cloud service to store user information and synchronize data.
LastPass offers a free and premium pricing tier for consumers, with the premium service costing just $1 per month. Users of the free edition get many of the basics you'd expect from a cloud-based service, including plug-in support for multiple browsers, anywhere access, and even support for multifactor authentication using Google Authenticator on an Android or iOS device or Microsoft Authenticator on Windows Phone. Mobile device support requires a premium account but includes support for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. Even some mobile browsers such as Dolphin and Firefox Mobile work with LastPass Premium to automate username and password entry. Finally, premium users get access to the LastPass support team, rather than being relegated to the user forums.
LastPass offers handy functionality for sharing accounts with friends and family. The free service allows you to selectively share account login information with other LastPass users, allowing them to authenticate to individual Web applications using your information, without giving them direct access to your passwords. Premium account subscribers get access to a Family Folder, a feature that lets you specify exactly which login information to share with up to five other LastPass users.
Desktop support for LastPass is somewhat confusing. Downloading the basic installer for Windows provides browser plug-ins, an import tool (for migrating from another password vault or spreadsheet), and a shortcut to the LastPass Web app. Premium subscribers also have access to LastPass for applications, which provides increased utility by allowing you to automatically log into desktop applications such as Skype or a corporate VPN client.
LastPass is a cloud-centric password manager with an abundance of features and mobile clients.