How many passwords do you have? 20? 200? Or do you just have one single one for all your logins? If you don’t use a strong and unique password for every website, you should use a password manager. The typical password manager installs as a browser plug-in to handle password capture and replay. When you log in to a secure site, it offers to save your credentials. When you return to that site, it offers to automatically fill in those credentials. And if you’ve saved multiple logins for the same site, it serves the choices up as a menu. Most also offer a browser toolbar menu of saved logins, so you can go straight to a saved site and log in automatically.
Some products detect password change events and offer to update the existing record. Some even record your credentials during the process of signing up for a new secure website. On the flip side, a password manager that doesn’t include password capture and replay automation needs to offset that lack with significant other assets.
When you create a new secure account or update a weak password, you don’t want to strain your brain trying for something strong and unique. There are top-rated products that include a built-in password generator; they can also sync across all of your Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
Some password managers can auto-fill stored credentials, which is a small step to automatically filling in personal data on Web forms. Different products handle form-filling in their own ways. Some immediately fill all recognized fields, some wait for you to click in a field, some pop up and ask what you’d prefer. You’ll even find products that offer your choice of credit cards using realistic images with the correct color and bank logo.
As noted, these top products let you sync your passwords across all of your devices. Some of them also include a built-in mechanism for securely sharing passwords with other users. Some let you share a login without making the password visible, some let you revoke sharing, and with some the sharing goes both ways—that is, if the recipient makes a change it will change the original.
Top performers in password managers for 2015:
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