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Choosing a password manager is pretty much the same process we apply to most things in our life. If you take a minute to look around you at the things you have bought over the years, you’ll probably remember the stories behind the purchases. Some may have taken five minutes, some may have taken a few hours or days of deliberation but they all have one thing in common – personal preference.
A car is a great example here. You will already have it mapped out in your head some of the features or creature comforts you want it to have e.g. air con, electric windows, aux control on the steering wheel, built in Bluetooth and so on.
Normally you have these types of features for convenience, so why would choosing a password manager be any different?
Free VS Paid Memberships
There are a few things to bear in mind here. Let’s talk about free versions, everyone likes free things and more often than not will choose these types over a proper membership but who is really looking after you? When it comes to security and storage you aren’t talking about cheap access and equipment, reputable companies will have the very best policies and practises in order to keep you safe. Ask yourself it’s free, is it really worth it because unless they are backed by a millionaire, you are probably getting an automated service run by one man and his dog.
A paid membership will not only give you better features but will have more protection in place. For an average of $2.50 a month you can benefit from the security they offer and as that’s pretty damn cheap – a coffee less a month from Starbucks – there’s not much excuse to choose a free one. Companies which offer paid memberships are so much more invested in you, it’s their job and you are their main focus. Not to mention the customer support will be better too.
Tip – Using a free membership or trial to your advantage
In choosing something you like, you often go through a couple until you settle on something, a bit like that glove that fits just right. If a password manager offers a free membership as well as paid memberships, you can use that to your advantage to get a feel for the software/site. The same can be said for the free trials you see as well. These are great for taking the service for a test drive for a week or so, or even a few hours, sometimes you just know when it’s right. If you have the change to do this, do.
What are the features of a password manager?
The premise of a password manager is simple, they store your passwords and help you produce new ones that are 1000 times more secure.
Features may include:
- Store unlimited passwords
- Analyse existing passwords for security and help you change them
- Unlimited or certain number of devices to add e.g. tablet
- Have a browser extension
- App versions for devices
Depending on the company or membership this may vary but you see these common features available for most password managers. The exception being for browser only based managers.
Again, what features they provide will depend on what you are superficially looking for as to whether it is the right one for you.
Consider these features when looking for a top password manager:
- Unlimited password storage
- Unlimited devices
- Security centre / audit service – to help you analyse existing passwords
- Backup services – will help you restore if there are any issues
- Cloud services for auto syncing across devices e.g. icloud, dropbox etc
- Auto save new passwords – saves them as you type them or create them
- Auto change passwords – if you need to change a password, the software can do it for you in house.
- Import / export – If you have passwords in a browser or spreadsheet many have the capability of importing them to save you manually entering each one.
- Password generator – Creates a completely random and secure password for you and may look a bit like this afVb35kjbsdffv5486jhbDsafa – trying cracking that password!
These are just a few of the main important features you would ideally want but don’t forget about the company itself. Go for one with a bit reputation like Password1, Dashlane or Lasspass for example. These are regularly talked about in the community and if you google ‘top password managers’, you’ll see the same ones over and over again which will help give you an indication of what to go for.
There is no magic way of choosing one, it is totally down to personal preference but don’t settle for one just because you think it’s going to be ‘ok’. Make sure you are 100% confident to use it, can navigate around it easily, understand it’s features and the most important – feel safe.