At one point or another everyone experiences the inherent headache that comes with having to not only create, but also memorize secure passwords for their online accounts. Many people in this situation resort to simply re-using the same password for multiple services – leaving them all open to attack if just one is compromised. However, using a unique login each time means you risk being locked out if you type it incorrectly too many times.
That’s why you need a secure password generator and manager. These programs combine letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and special characters to create secure and unique passwords resistant to dictionary attacks.
These passwords are then encrypted and locked away in a vault secured by a master login, which is the only one you need to memorize. Once you’ve logged into this, the best password generators and managers will fill in your username and password automatically each time you visit a site that needs them.
Some password generators and managers save the encrypted login details on their own servers, while others require you to keep them locally on your PC or a removable storage device. Here we’ve gathered up the best of both, so you can pick the type that fits your needs.
LastPass comes in two different versions – free and premium. Both can generate and store a limitless number of account logins in a secure vault secured by a master password, employs multi-factor authentication, and will even complete online forms for you automatically.
The premium version also syncs across multiple devices, stores passwords for desktop programs, and lets you share secured folders with other people, with customizable permissions.
LastPass’s defining feature is its almost unparalleled ability to generate strong, impossible-to-guess passwords for all your accounts, which it then saves for you. Gone are the days when you had to either remember long, unmanageable passwords, or having to risk your data by re-using the same password over and over again. It’s a class act.
Review and where to download: LastPass
Dashlane is LastPass’s closest competitor, and like LastPass it’s completely worth checking out, featuring one-click password generation, world-class security, breathless ease of use and ability to store notes for future reference.
It’s not just a Windows desktop program either, there are browser plugins and mobile versions, and similar to LastPass there’s a premium version of Dashlane that includes unlimited sharing and syncing.
Dashlane Premium costs US$39.99 (about £30, AU$50) per year, but the free version features all the essentials: you get the core password manager, autofill and digital wallet features, all of which work flawlessly. Don’t settle for LastPass without trying Dashlane first, and vice versa.
Download here: Dashlane
RoboForm boasts that it’s world’s best password manager, and there is certainly a case to be made in its favor. A recent update added the ability to store an unlimited amount of logins in the free edition. It also features multi-platform support, application logins, secure storage of notes, and the ability to receive emergency access.
RoboForm Everywhere adds the ability to sync across devices, cloud backup and the ability to grant emergency access yourself. If you decide to purchase a premium license, it’ll cost US$19.95, £15.95 (about AU$25) for one year, US$49.95, £39.95 (about AU$65) for three years, or US$74.95, £59.95 (about AU$95) for five years. There are also family subscriptions available for up to five users.
RoboForm doesn’t have quite the same features lists as Dashlane or LastPass, but it’s a very good tool regardless and the free mobile apps are great. Its password generator is especially strong, allowing you to exclude similar characters and specify which special characters should be used.
Roboform is available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, and is a good option for anybody who wants a simple and secure way to sync passwords between desktop, laptop and mobile devices.
Download here: RoboForm
It isn’t the prettiest password manager around, but KeePass Password Safe offers strong security, multiple user support, and downloadable plugins to expand its feature set.
KeePass’s secure password generator can produce logins suitable for those annoying sites with very specific requirements, and clearly marks any options that might make the generated password weaker.
The password manager is small enough to run from USB without installing on a PC, it can input from and output to a wide range of file formats and there are stacks of customization options to play with.
The fact that KeePass Password Safe is open source means anybody can inspect the code for potential weaknesses, which means that any security issues can be identified and fixed quickly. It’s a great app, if a bit intimidating for beginners.
Download here: KeePass Password Safe
Sticky Password comes from the team behind AVG Antivirus, so you can be sure that security is its top priority.
There are two editions of Sticky Password: free and premium. The premium edition adds cloud syncing and backup and costs $29.99 or £19.99 (about AU$40) a year. There’s also a lifetime license available for $149.99 or £96.99 (about AU$200) – an option not offered by any other premium password manager.
Both versions of Sticky Password include a generator that can create secure logins for you while you’re registering for new online accounts. It’s straightforward to use, but doesn’t offer as many customization options as the other services here.
The app works on PC, Mac, Android and iOS, supports fingerprint authentication on mobile, is available as a portable USB version and offers lots of sync options including Wi-Fi syncing with local devices.
Browser extensions are also available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer, but not Edge.
Download here: Sticky Password