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The best password managers for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices

Tim Ferrill | June 19, 2014
6 local and cloud-based password managers make passwords stronger and online life easier for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone users

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 supports several forms of two-factor authentication. I've already mentioned that both Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator are supported with free accounts, providing simple integration using a mobile device. Premium accounts gain support for Yubikey, a USB hardware authentication device, and Sesame, a software authentication tool run from a USB storage device.

If you need simple password management in a Web app, you can't go wrong with a free LastPass account. For more granular credential sharing and mobile device support, LastPass premium will be the best $1 you spend each month.

PasswordBox

PasswordBox bears a number of similarities to Dashlane. Master passwords are neither stored nor transmitted, meaning that password data is secured throughout the process, and password resets are technically impossible. PasswordBox even takes extra steps to ensure the security of your information in other ways, such as PCI-compliant data centers and providing the ability to send the company encrypted email using the PGP key published on its website.

PasswordBox is currently missing some of the features available in Dashlane, such as two-factor authentication, but both two-factor and fingerprint-based authentication are reportedly coming soon. You can read about the security measures PasswordBox uses to safeguard password data in the company's security whitepaper.

PasswordBox does not use stand-alone client programs on Windows and Mac, opting instead for browser plug-ins (Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer), but mobile apps are available for both iOS and Android. Another minor oddity: PasswordBox doesn't offer a Web app to view or edit passwords or manage your account -- everything is handled via mobile app or browser plug-in.

PasswordBox is priced competitively with the other cloud-based password managers. Free accounts support up to 25 stored passwords, including synchronization and full sharing capabilities. Premium accounts cost $12 per year and give you unlimited password storage. Referring five friends nets you a premium account for life.

 

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