Sunday, May 02, 2010

Five Best Password Managers [Hive Five]


Five Best Password ManagersAs more of our work, play, and business is conducted online it becomes increasingly important to use a diverse set of strong passwords. This week we take a look at the five best password managers to keep your passwords organized.

Photo a composite of images by melodi2 and nintaro.

You can't afford to use the same password for everything nor do many of us have the recall skills to keep dozens and dozens of complex alphanumeric passwords stored in perfect order in our memories. A password manager is the compromise between using a few you can remember and risking forgetting some if you use too many complex passwords. The follow five tools will help you build a strong password set and securely store it so you're never stuck using the same old password for fear of forgetting it.

KeePass (Windows/Mac/Linux/Mobile, Free)

Five Best Password Managers
If you're extra paranoid about security it's tough to go wrong with an open-source solution knowing that you (or the concerned community) can pore over the code. KeePass is open-source, free, and available for everything from a portable Windows installation to a implementation for iPhones, PocketPCs, and Android phones. KeePass supports a variety of features including automatic password generation, field and icon customization, secure notes, and login and password entry through clipboard copying, drag and drop, or auto fill-in. KeePass supports a wide range of import and export formats as well as printing for hard copy backup for secure offline storage. If you're interested in KeePass you'll definitely want to check out our guide to the eight best KeePass plugins and how to sync your KeePass keyring with Dropbox.

Roboform (Windows, Basic: Free/Pro: $29.95)

Five Best Password Managers
RoboForm isn't going to win any awards for a stunning GUI, but it has gathered accolades for ease of use and tight integration with popular web browsers. You can set RoboForm to not only automatically log you into existing services but quickly fill out forms to register for new ones with automatic fill in of names and email addresses. RoboForm included encrypted notes, random password generation, and the ability to print hard copy backups of your password lists for storage in a fire safe or other secure location.

LastPass (Windows/Mac/Linux/Mobile, Basic: Free/Premium: $1/month)

Five Best Password Managers
LastPass is one of the newest password managers on the market but it has quickly gained a following for ease of use, hiccup-free integration across operating systems, browsers, and mobile platforms, and an extremely reasonable premium-model that costs only a $1 a month. Because LastPass is available for every major operating system and phone platform it's difficult to imagine a combination of operating system, web browser, and phone it doesn't cover, meaning you'll use your password manager more. LastPass has gone to extraordinary lengths to cover the bases when it comes to running a web-connected password management service including the ability to use two-layer authentication and setting up one-time use passwords for those times you want to access your online password database but you're not sure if the connection you're on is really secure. For a closer look at LastPass check out our guide here.

SplashID (Windows/Mac/Mobile, Desktop: $19.95/Mobile:$9.95)

Five Best Password ManagersSplashID is a multi-platform password manager. Available on the desktop for Windows and Mac OS X it also syncs to mobile versions on the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and S60 platforms. SplashID uses AES and Blowfish encryption, an automatic password generator, custom icons for entries in your keyring, advanced search, and the ability to sync and securely email your passwords to other SplashID users. SplashID supports heavily customizable entry fields so you can easily make specialized entry types for storage of non-password data (confidential records, bank information, insurance information, and more). SplashID offers a 30 day trial.

1Password (Mac OS X/iPhone, Desktop: $39.95/iPhone:$14.95)

Five Best Password Managers
1Password is a Mac-centric password manager with support for syncing to your iPhone and iPad through through the 1Password mobile suite. Not only can you organize and sync just passwords but also software licences and files—great for storing things like scanned copies of your important documents when traveling. 1Password supports customization of login icons and thumbnails, integration with Evernote and Safari, and a tag-based system for easy login organization. While this is completely irrelevant to the quality of a good password manager in so far as the security of the passwords is concerned it's worth nothing that 1Password sports the most attractive and polished user interface of any password manager we've reviewed.

Now that you've had a chance to look over the top five contenders for the title of best password manager it's time to cast your vote in the poll below:

Which Password Manager Is Best?survey software

Have a favorite tool that wasn't mentioned here or a tip or trick to share about one that was? Let's hear about it in the comments. Have an idea for the next Hive Five? Send us an email at