What is a Password Manager and Why You Should Use One

by Robert Best on October 4, 2019
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How many different passwords do you use? I'm betting it is not many. You should be using a unique and strong password for every online system you use. But that is a lot of different and difficult passwords to remember.

The solution is to start using a password manager. We've written a lot about cybersecurity and being secure online (it's always a hot topic). In each of those articles, we recommend the use of a password manager.

So here is a brief guide to show what a password manager is and why you should be using one.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is an application you use to store and manage your passwords for online accounts and services. Your password manager encrypts and stores all your passwords. You can access them by using a master password.

Why use a password manager

Most of us either use easy to remember passwords or we reuse passwords across multiple accounts. While that makes things easier for us, it also makes things easy for cybercriminals.

If you re-use passwords for multiple sites and services hackers will only need to breach one of those sites and they would get the same password you use across the others. Couple that with the fact that we are often forced to use our email as the username and look how easy it is to get your whole login details.

With a password manager, you only need to remember one password, the master password for the manager. All the other passwords can be set to unique ultra-strong passwords that you won't have a hope of remembering. Look how much harder a cybercriminal would have to work to get your account logins.

How password managers work

example of a bad password and how not to store your password

When using a password manager visit the website you want normally. Instead of entering your password, you type your master password into the password manager and that will then auto-fill your password. If you are already logged into the password manager it will automatically fill in your password.

If you are creating a new account then your password manager can generate a secure password for you. Most password managers can also auto-fill details like email address and your address.

Are password managers safe

Yes, good quality password managers are safe and a recommended security option. Make sure you use a password manager that encrypts your passwords for greater security.

A password manager will not make you 100% secure, sadly nowadays nothing will. But by combining a password manager and a multi-factor authentication app you will be about as secure as you can be.

Which password manager should I use?

There are many password managers you can choose from. Some are free and some you have to pay for. Here are some points to consider when choosing a password manager.

Price - How much are you willing to pay? There are some great free password managers you can get and they work very well. But if you are willing to pay you can find password managers with more functions.

Online access to passwords - Some passwords managers allow this and others don't. You will have to decide how important this option is to you.

Compatible devices and browsers - What operating system does your phone use. You will find password managers that work just on iOS and some just on Android. There are also different web browsers, and not all password managers support them. Check to see if they support your browser of choice.

Password manager examples

  • LastPass - Free password manager that also has a paid option.
  • Dashlane - Can be used for free as well as a paid subscription option.
  • 1Password - Comes with a 30-day free trial but you can get a monthly subscription for under £5

Using a password manager is an excellent way to improve your online security. Using unique and strong passwords will greatly increase the security of your accounts and by using a password manager that encrypts your passwords you reduce the chances of cybercriminals getting access to all your passwords.

Give password managers a try and let us know in the comments below what you think.

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