The 5 Best Password Managers for Small Businesses in 2021

If you're online, you need a dedicated password management application to securely store your login credentials. The best password managers are more than one-trick ponies because they also have robust password generators, sync your information across multiple devices, and provide proactive security tools.

Top Rated

LastPass

If you're still using a password like 123456, trouble is heading your way -- and soon. Robust password management tools are a must-have, so learn how LastPass can protect you and your family.

Easiest to Use

1Password

Protecting your online login credentials includes making your accounts accessible to others as needed. Learn how 1Password's shared password vaults and other tools will benefit your family.

Best Value

Bitwarden

If you need a simple but powerful password management application with multiple free plans, Bitwarden is your answer. The Blueprint covers its features and benefits for you and your small business.

Best Support

Zoho Vault

Recycling passwords or using weak ones like qwerty is begging for trouble. Zoho Vault handles the heavy lifting of password management, so learn how it improves your online identity security.

Best for Enterprises

Dashlane

Robust password security tools are a must-have. Dashlane's password manager costs more than its competitors, so The Blueprint takes a close look at its features to see if it's worth the expense.

We may receive compensation from partners and advertisers whose products appear here. Compensation may impact where products are placed on our site, but editorial opinions, scores, and reviews are independent from, and never influenced by, any advertiser or partner.

Back in ye olden days when I was in graduate school, I had two passwords: One to log into my university's network and the other to access my email account there. Password security wasn't much of a concern because we didn't have any other online accounts. Heck, I used a command-line interface (CLI) to access the World Wide Web because Internet Explorer didn't exist!

Now we live in a brave new world with online accounts for banking, shopping, social media, and a whole host of other websites and applications. Even if you know how to make a strong password, the volume of accounts requiring unique login credentials has made informal password management obsolete.

And just as it's too late to get insurance after you have an accident, you don't want to wait until your accounts are hacked to implement a password protector application.

Our top picks for the best Password Management Software:

Top Rated

1. LastPass

   
Easiest to Use

2. 1Password

   
Best Value

3. Bitwarden

   
Best Support

4. Zoho Vault

   
Best for Enterprises

5. Dashlane

   

What The Blueprint looks for in a great password manager

Maybe you want a viable free plan for your own personal use, a family plan that supports multiple relatives, or a top-tier plan with advanced security and identity protection features. Whatever your specific needs, a long look at these password manager applications is your best first step to securing your login credentials and other personal information.

Choosing any software application boils down to three factors: features, support, and pricing. Most password managers share many of the same elements, but a close examination reveals critical differences between them.

Features

A password vault provides secure password protection, but the best password managers have more tools to enhance your online experience.

Typical features include:

  • Web-based password vault: Access your login credentials and password management tools via an online interface.
  • Browser extensions: Quickly use passwords or add new ones with an extension in your web browser.
  • Mobile app: Use passwords and management tools on the go from your mobile devices.
  • Desktop application: Launch your password manager as a standalone application on your desktop computer.
  • Password generator: Create strong passwords automatically using multiple parameters.
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA): Add an extra layer of security with secondary authentication factors beyond a password alone.
  • Password sharing: Make your information available to other users for shared accounts such as Netflix or unexpected emergencies.

If you want all the bells and whistles, some top-tier plans track your credit score, help with identity restoration, and provide identity theft insurance.

Support

The level of support varies widely among password manager providers. Tech newbies may want direct customer service via live chat or telephone, but these options are not frequently offered. Instead, email help tickets and self-service resources such as knowledge bases and community forums are the norm.

The "right" support depends on your level of comfort managing multiple password management interfaces such as web-based vaults, browser extensions, mobile apps, and desktop applications. Other features to navigate include password generators, 2FA, and multiple security tools.

Pricing

While significant overlap exists with the features different password managers offer, pricing is another story. This is where doing your research pays off: Identify the exact functionality you need to ensure you pay only for what you want.

You typically have three options:

  • Free: Supports one or two users
  • Individual: Supports a single user and ranges from $10 per year to $120 per year
  • Family: Supports five to six users and ranges from $40 per year to $240 per year

The quality of free plans varies. Some have a very limited features set while others will work for the long term. Dashlane's free plan, for example, is more of a teaser for its paid plans. Bitwarden's free plans, however, are great if two users need to manage and share their passwords and don't need additional licenses.


How you can benefit from using password managers

If you're using a password manager in your web browser and/or smartphone, you may think you don't need a standalone application. Dedicated password management software, however, offers extra features beyond password storage to better protect your login credentials and streamline your online experience.

Increased security

Protecting yourself online is paramount as both your online accounts and the bad actors attempting to access them increase. Everyone is — or has been — guilty of using or reusing weak or compromised passwords, and a password manager is the first step to increasing the security of your login credentials.

Password generators to create strong passwords and security reports that identify weak and reused passwords are common security tools. Advanced features include monitoring online databases of login credentials breached in data hacks.

Password manager applications usually include two-factor authentication that, unlike the password manager built into your browser or smartphone, adds another layer of security to the login process. 2FA uses different information based on what a user:

  • Knows: The answer to a security question
  • Has: A one-time password (OTP)
  • Is: Biometrics such as a fingerprint or facial recognition

Most password managers let you choose from multiple 2FA methods. Zoho Vault, for example, gives users six options, including the standalone Google Authenticator mobile app, to secure their accounts as per the screenshot below.

Zoho Vault two-factor authentication options, such as Touch ID and Scan QR, are displayed in a list.

Using 2FA increases the security of your accounts. Source: Bitwarden software.

I'll be the first to admit: 2FA is inherently a hassle compared to using a password alone. The tradeoff, however, between the time this extra login step requires and the increased security it provides is a no-brainer.

Cross-device synchronization

I used to rely on the separate password managers in my browser and my smartphone to protect my login credentials. The recurring problem I had was the lack of synchronization between them: If I updated a password on one of them, I forgot what it was by the time I was using the other one. This left me chasing my password tail on multiple occasions trying to log into different applications.

Unlike my experiences with ad hoc password management, the best password managers sync your login credentials across multiple devices such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. LastPass, for example, lets you update login information once and seamlessly access it from any device you use.

The LastPass vault application is shown on a smart watch, cell phone, and tablet.

A password manager app syncs information across multiple devices. Source: LastPass software.

If you're interested in cross-device synchronization, double check how many connected devices the plan you choose supports. While some offer unlimited synchronization, others limit the number you can connect.

Shared information

Securing your login information is important, but on occasion, you need to let others access it. A good password manager allows you to share password vault information with designated users and set up an emergency contact who can see it, too.

Bitwarden allows users to share information in its personal accounts to "Organizations." In the example below, I made my City of Waco — Water account available in the MRL Bills collection in the Long-Adams Household organization I share with my girlfriend.

A Bitwarden organization dashboard displays a linked account.

Alleviate unnecessary stress during crises with shared account information. Source: bitwarden.com.

Sure, the chances of my girlfriend paying my water bill out of the blue are pretty slim, but giving someone you trust access to your online accounts is key in an emergency. The example I go back to is my grandmother: When my grandfather died in the mid-1970s, she didn't even know what bank they used, much less any other financial information. The result? A bad situation was made worse.

We all want more security in an uncertain digital world. While a password manager can't do all the heavy lifting to protect you online, choosing the best one for your needs is a great step in the right direction.


Frequently Asked Questions for Password Management

Who should use password managers?

If you're online, you need a password manager. It securely stores login credentials, helps you create strong passwords, and syncs stored information across multiple devices.

Password managers typically have plans for individuals and families. Businesses can deploy enterprise-level identity and access management (IAM) software that integrates with service or help desk applications to aid threat hunting, incident response, and endpoint detection and response (EDR).

How much do they cost?

Many password managers offer a free plan for individuals, but the features included vary: Some are suitable long-term solutions, while others are essentially teasers for paid plans. Paid individual plans can range from $10 per year to $120 per year. Family plans that support five to six users range from $40 per year to $240 per year.

What kind of support can I expect?

Direct customer service is usually limited to email help tickets, but a few companies offer live chat and telephone support. Common self-serve resources include knowledge bases with in-depth articles, community forums, and how-two videos.

The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.