What you need to know about password managers
- Password managers help you create strong passwords.
- They integrate with a web browser for easy log-in.
- Most have companion apps for tablets and smartphones.
Why use a password manager?
Every day, more and more services are going online. This is making life easier for many of us, but it does bring with it the hassle of remembering all those passwords. Password managers are a secure repository for storing passwords and unlocking with a master password to log in to most websites.
We tested six password manager applications on a desktop (Windows) computer and also tried the mobile version on both an Android tablet and an iPad. We tried:
We focused on the ease of use of password managers and rated how easy it is to do the initial set-up, any available help information and how they organise and stores log-in details. We also looked at how easy it is to log in to Gmail, Facebook, CHOICE and gaming site Steam. We rated security options such as encryption, master password recovery, whether data can be exported and if there’s a virtual keyboard for secure log-in.
What to look for
Password managers have many extra tools that make life online much easier. In our test, we compare all six programs for to see which have these key features:
- Online / cloud sync keeps data up-to-date using the cloud.
- Local / Wi-Fi sync data synchronises between the devices connected to the same local network. Data is stored on local network, not in cloud.
- Master Password Recovery to allow a forgotten password to be recovered to access the application.
- On Screen / Virtual keyboard to secure against keylogger applications
- In-app browser mobile application has its own browser.
- Password generator can create a secure random key.
- Security alerts notify for an already used password and indicate strength of password.
- Web access without installing on computer.
- Portable USB version can be used on desktops (Win) without installing.
For more information on computing accessories, head to our Computers and online section.