I have tested more online tools than I can remember. The single most important item to keeping my sanity was a password manager. If you do a lot of work online and you don’t have a password manager, you are causing yourself a lot more headaches than you need. In addition, you might be putting yourself at risk of identify theft more than you know.
Save Your Sanity And Security
I first looked at different password managers when I was comparing online grade books. It was the summer of 2014, and I was looking for an alternative to PowerTeacher. I think I tested out 5 different online grade book programs. What made it difficult is that not all of them allowed an email username so some had unique usernames. Others required that I have a number or a symbol in it. After a while, it would take me 10 minutes just to figure out the password or to simply do a password reset.
What made things more difficult is that I was using a Mac for work, had a Android phone, and used a Windows PC at home. I couldn’t simply rely on one single password manager. Even when I did have my passwords saved in Chrome, it wasn’t always a guarantee that it would autofill when I reached a website.
3 Password Managers
Everyone can be more efficient and be safer when using online tools if they use a password manager. Something that can store all of your usernames and passwords. Something that can sync between your devices. And something that can auto generate really strong passwords that are unique to every site.
For a long time, I used the same couple of passwords for all my sites. Bad idea. It is also a horrible idea because humans are really unoriginal with their passwords. Yours might even be on this list of worst ones for 2015.
I put together this list of 3 managers to help you avoid the choice of remembering simple passwords or creating secure ones. I will cover three different tools: Dashlane, Lastpass, and 1Password. I have tried out each of these three and listed some of their pros/cons below.
When I was choosing my manager, I made sure it had the same core functions.
1) Remember usernames and passwords
2) Generate unique safe passwords for each site
3) Sync between different platforms
All the other features are just bonuses compared to what I needed it to do.
Cost: Free/ Premium $12.00 a year
- 1) Premium is cheap
- 2) Syncs passwords across all devices
- 3) Can easily share passwords to other people without giving access to all passwords and without even knowing what it is.
- 4) Works with fingerprint sensors on phones
- 5) Works with all platforms
- 6) Gives a score for your passwords to check if you use them more than once.
- 1) Autofill and login could be easier to use
- 2) Updating with new passwords could be buggy at times. Meaning that when I updated a password, I was not sure if the one in LastPass was updated.
A really easy to use password manager that you can use to keep track of all your safe passwords. It works seamlessly between devices and for $12 a year, I thought it was worth the price. Click on this link to get 1 month premium free!
For more information about LastPass, check out this really detailed review at PCMag.
Cost: Free / Premium $39.99 per year
- 1) The visuals and user experience is very nice. I found it to be the slickest and easiest to use out of the three I tested.
- 2) Automatically generates unique, secure password for sites
- Syncs between all platforms
- 3) User credentials are setup to automatically login by default. It is a really cool feature that you need to try to enjoy. It is really nice going to a website and just being logged in.
- 4) Can share passwords with others without letting them see the exact password.
- 5) Can capture receipts for online shopping.
- 1) Cost is a little high for a password manager
- 2) Needs a separate Android browser. I know this is platform specific but it was really annoying.
- 3) Dashlane on my Android phone required a separate browser. Androids use Chrome by default and I sync my Chrome browser history and apps. That meant on my Google Android powered phone with Google Chrome, I had to use the unimpressive Dashlane browser for Dashlane to enter my username and password whenever I went to a website.
I use LastPass as my daily driver but I really liked Dashlane. I would say that I liked the interface and usability more than LastPass. The downside was that darn browser. It was just another tool to use that slowed me down. Every time I needed to log into a site that required a username and password, I had to use their browser. It was a deal breaker for me.
Otherwise, I am pretty sure I would have paid the little additional money for the premium that syncs passwords. If you only use Windows or iOS/OS, this might not be a problem for you and in that case, I highly suggest you check it out!
For more information about Dashlane, check out this really detailed review at PCMag.
Cost: $69.99 for combined Mac+Windows license. Free for Android/iOS app.
- 1) Captures passwords in all platforms and syncs them across devices.
- 2) Good user interface and everything was easy to find.
- 3) Generates strong, unique passwords for sites.
- 4) Can pull username/password for autofilling forms.
- 5) Can store your username/passwords in your Dropbox.
- 1) Expensive
- 2) Form filling was not 100% smooth
- 3) Had trouble updating 1Password when I updated a password.
I tested out 1Password recently and I have to say that the product is straightforward. It will save your usernames and passwords in a secure place. I just don’t know if it was worth the very high price for something that you can get for free with other tools.
I know some of you are concerned with putting all of your passwords in a single place “in the cloud”. That is why I liked the feature of saving your credentials locally on your computer or in your Dropbox. While Dropbox might still count as the cloud, maybe it just seems more in your control. You can see the passwords file, you know where it is. Maybe seeing it makes it seem safer and a little less “cloudy”…get it? 🙂 For me, 1Password got the job done but I wasn’t impressed enough to switch.
For more information about 1Password, check out this really detailed review at PCMag.
Pick A Password Managers And Save Your Sanity
These are not the only three password managers available. There are a lot more in the list I posted at the bottom. These were three that I found to be the most recommended. I found all three got the job done and all three made my online life easier and safer.
My choice was LastPass because it did what I wanted it to do for a low price. My passwords are safe because they all have absurd combinations like “F5$4Y!vl$1Ra”. No, that isn’t one of my real passwords but they ALL look like that. I would never want to commit to memorizing a password like this but that is the point. I don’t have to. Yet, at the same time, I know I could use any tool and LastPass will make sure that whenever I use it again, logging in is quick, smooth, and safe.
If you teach and use any online tool, I highly recommend you use a manager and encourage your students to as well. We live in a time where a bad password set 5 years ago in some program you don’t use anymore can come back to haunt you. Why take the risk when managing your online life is really easy.
For other alternatives, check out a longer list by clicking here.
Question: What tool do you use to manage your passwords? Why might be holding you back from using an online manager?