When comparing password managers, it can be difficult to figure out which one is the best fit for your needs. We’ve compared these two companies according to five of the most important features we feel are important to choosing one over the other. Remember that the best password manager for your needs depends on factors such as how many users it needs to support and whether you plan to buy for home or business use.
1. Security and Encryption
Naturally, security comes first when you’re looking at a potential password manager.
Most password managers rely on AES 256-bit encryption, and the same is true for Bitwarden and Dashlane. However, there are still some important differences between password managers when it comes to security. Two-factor authentication, password strength requirements, security customization options, and other features are all relevant to the safety of a particular password manager.
2. App Compatibility
While some people want a password manager for a single device, most users are looking for a platform they can use on every device they own. For example, you might have a smartphone and a computer, plus additional devices for school and work.
App compatibility also involves the kinds of clients that a specific provider offers. Some provide desktop and mobile apps, while others may offer extensions for certain browsers. Even if you don’t download an app, you may also be able to access your passwords through the website. Whatever devices and operating systems you use, you should be able to find a password manager that aligns with your needs.
3. Usability and Ease of Use
A password manager is meant to make things easier, so you shouldn’t have to waste time figuring out how the application works or dealing with technical issues. The best providers streamline password management by offering a quick signup, easy imports of your existing passwords, and giving you plenty of help resources.
Additionally, your password manager should be able to reliably autofill passwords as needed. Some platforms have more trouble with this than others, and performance can vary widely for each unique user.
4. Password Sharing
All password managers make it relatively easy to store your own passwords. However, some are better than others when it comes to sharing your passwords with other people. We evaluated these two providers based on the security and customization of their password sharing tools.
Finally, we have to look at the price of each provider in order to determine its overall value. While some users may be willing to pay more for extra features, you shouldn’t have to spend much money to get a decent password manager.
Both Bitwarden and Dashlane use end-to-end encryption to keep your information as safe as possible. End-to-end encryption means that all data is encrypted at the source before being sent over the internet.
Dashlane uses AES-256 bit encryption for the vault and Argon2d for key derivation. Bitwarden uses AES-CBC 256 bit encryption for vault data and PBKDF SHA-256 bit encryption to derive the master password.
If you’re using Bitwarden, you can even select the number of iterations you want Bitwarden to use. The default figure is 100,000 — keep in mind that lower numbers may be less secure, and higher numbers may lead to a drag on performance.
Furthermore, each service supports two-factor authentication (2FA) to help secure your accounts. With 2FA, you will have to verify login attempts using an authenticator app or similar tool. You can use authenticator apps on either platform, but Bitwarden also provides other options such as email and YubiKey.
Overall, both Bitwarden and Dashlane are highly secure. Bitwarden is slightly more versatile due to its support for additional two-factor authentication methods, but that won’t make much of a difference to most users.
Regardless of the devices you use, you shouldn’t have any trouble with either Bitwarden or Dashlane. However, there are some important differences between these two platforms with respect to app compatibility.
First, Bitwarden is extremely comprehensive when it comes to supporting different devices and operating systems. That starts with mobile apps for iOS and Android, both of which have very solid reviews. Bitwarden has an average score of 4.7 on the App Store and 4.6 on the Google Play store with tens of thousands of reviews, making it one of the top rated mobile password managers.
The Bitwarden Windows app is available for all recent versions of Windows including 7, 8, 10, and 11. There’s also a macOS app that’s compatible with macOS 10.14 and newer and Safari 14 and newer. The Linux app is listed as supporting “most distributions,” so you may need to reach out to Bitwarden directly for more details.
One thing that stands out about Bitwarden is its long list of installation methods. Windows users, for example, can install the app through a standard installer, through a portable flash drive app, through the Windows store, or through a “Chocolatey” package (a command-line package manager). There are also several installation options for the macOS and Linux clients.
On top of the desktop apps, Bitwarden offers extensions for eight of the most popular browsers: Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, Microsoft Edge, and Tor. Finally, you can access Bitwarden using the web vault, or even a command-line interface if you want to create your own scripts.
Even though Dashlane is easy to access on most devices, it still doesn’t offer nearly the same range of options that we saw with Bitwarden. In fact, Dashlane recently pivoted to a web app that works differently from a conventional desktop app. That web app is only available on Chrome, Chromium, Firefox, Edge, and Safari — Vivaldi, Opera, Brave, and Tor users will all be better off with Bitwarden.
If you’re on an iOS or Android device, you can still access Dashlane through the mobile app. Dashlane’s mobile reviews are actually slightly higher than Bitwarden’s at 4.8 on iOS and 4.6 on Android.
However, we noticed that many recent reviewers are unhappy with the switch to a web app on desktop. The negative perception of the new web app is confirmed by its unimpressive average rating of 3.7 out of 5 on the Mac App Store.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see that Bitwarden has the upper hand when it comes to app compatibility. Still, Dashlane should be easy to use on any device that has a decent browser. Just log into the web app from any location and you’ll be able to pull up your passwords.
To sign up for Bitwarden, just go to the website and click “Get Started.” Of course, you can also download the app if you’d rather create an account that way.
During the signup process, Bitwarden will ask for your email address, name, and the master password you want to use for your new account. Remember that there is no way to recover the master password if you lose it. Make sure to either write it down in a safe place or pick a master password you’ll be able to remember.
On the other hand, Dashlane requires you to download the desktop or mobile app before you can even create an account. Even though you’ll be able to access your account through the website after signing up there is currently no way to complete the account creation process on the Dashlane website. This is a small inconvenience, but it stands out against the extremely quick setup process we saw with Bitwarden.
Similar to Bitwarden, Dashlane starts by asking for your email address and a master password. While Bitwarden requires master passwords to be at least eight characters, Dashlane is a little more strict. We had to create a ten-character password with multiple numbers and special characters in order to proceed to the next step.
After signing up, both providers make it easy to go straight into storing your passwords. If you already had your passwords saved somewhere else, you should be able to quickly import them into your new password manager without having to create the same entries again manually.
Based on our experience with the desktop apps, both platforms are similar with respect to the interface and ease of use. It may take you some time to get used to how each one works, but the designs are simple and straight to the point.
With Bitwarden, a menu is displayed on the left side. You can view all entries, just your favorites, items in the trash, or specific types of entries such as logins or credit cards. Bitwarden also includes a handy folder feature that allows users to create custom sets of entries.
Similarly, Dashlane lists each of the types of entries on the left, plus a menu bar option for notifications. One glaring omission is the lack of folders, which means that you will be limited to the default organization options. For example, there doesn’t appear to be any way to separate your passwords into personal and work accounts (or any other custom category).
The same dynamic persists when you start to create a new entry. With Dashlane, you can only enter the name of the website, the email address associated with the account, and the password.
Bitwarden provides many more options including username, URL, authenticator key, folder, secure notes, custom fields, and whether or not the password should be marked as a favorite. While that complexity may be overwhelming for some users, it makes Bitwarden much more flexible than Dashlane with respect to saving passwords and other sensitive information.
Both Bitwarden and Dashlane support secure password sharing. That said, each application approaches password sharing in a different way.
The organization system is a little complicated to get used to, but Bitwarden offers some helpful password sharing features. With Bitwarden Send, you can configure parameters that will govern access to a particular password. For example, you can set an expiration date, a limit on access attempts, a password requirement, or the option to disable the share later on.
Bitwarden Send is separate from the password vault, which leads to some unnecessary confusion. There is no way to share a password directly from your vault — instead, you have to copy the password text and paste it into Bitwarden Send.
We found that Dashlane makes password sharing significantly easier than Bitwarden. Owen Dubiel, our Security expert agrees, adding,
“I would have to agree, Bitwarden folder sharing is even more messy and very confusing as to which permissions users have to share which type of folders.”
Furthermore, Dashlane does more to support free password sharing. Free users can share passwords with up to five accounts, while they are limited to just one other user with the free Bitwarden tier.
To share a password through Dashlane, just click the “Sharing” tab on the left-hand side. The app will ask which password you want to share. From there, just enter the Dashlane user or group that you want to share the password with.
You will also have the option to give them limited or full rights to the account. With limited rights, they will be able to use the password to log into the account, but they won’t be able to edit the password or share it with other users. With full rights, they will have essentially the same access to the password that you do.
The downside of Dashlane’s password sharing features is that they aren’t quite as fine-grained as we saw from Bitwarden. Tools like expiration dates, access caps, and password requirements are only available with Bitwarden. On the other hand, Bitwarden’s sharing function isn’t quite as straightforward.
Both Bitwarden and Dashlane offer several subscription options for different users. You can use either platform at no charge if you’re willing to deal with some limitations on features.
Bitwarden’s free tier is a good option due to its surprisingly robust toolkit. While premium users obviously get even more, you can still access most basic password management tools with a free Bitwarden plan. At $10 per year, individual subscriptions come with some extra features including emergency access and two-factor authentication through the proprietary Bitwarden authenticator.
Additionally, Bitwarden offers a free shared plan that supports sharing between two unique users. This tier works basically like the free individual subscription aside from its password sharing features.
Families can get Bitwarden with unlimited sharing for up to six people for one payment of $39.96 per year, which works out to $3.33 per month. There is also a Teams plan at $3 per month per user, plus an Enterprise option at $5 per month per user with features like SSO and organization-level policies.
The free Dashlane plan is a little more limited with a maximum of just 50 total passwords. That might be enough for some users, but others may quickly reach that limit and need to upgrade to a paid subscription.
Dashlane’s premium option runs $6.49 per month, but that rate goes down to just $4.99 if you pay annually instead of monthly. Premium users get all the free features plus extra tools like dark web monitoring (up to five email addresses), private notes, a secure VPN, and 1 GB of encrypted file storage.
Like Bitwarden, Dashlane also offers a family plan at $8.99 per month ($7.49 per month paid annually) for a group of six. As you can see from these prices, Dashlane is significantly more expensive than Bitwarden for both individual and group subscriptions, and its free plan is also less robust. Bitwarden is the clear winner with respect to pricing.
Bitwarden and Dashlane are two of the top password managers for free, premium, family, and even organizational subscriptions. While you can’t go wrong with either option, we found that Bitwarden had a consistent advantage in functionality, ease of use, and overall value for cost. The gap between the two is especially noticeable considering that a premium Dashlane plan costs about six times as much as a premium Bitwarden subscription.
With that being said, there are still a few key areas in which Dashlane outpaces Bitwarden. First, its sharing tool is much more straightforward than Bitwarden’s organization system. Additionally, Dashlane offers a unique “Password Changer” tool that can change your passwords automatically.
Fortunately, both Bitwarden and Dashlane offer a robust free option, so you don’t need to spend any money to try them out. If you’re still having trouble deciding between them, download both apps and take some time to see which one works better for you.
|Setting up the vault||Supports imports from most major password managers, usually through .csv or .json files||Supports imports from other password managers through .csv files as well as other Dashlane accounts and the Android Chrome browser|
|Logging into accounts||Automatically recognizes new passwords and enters them on the corresponding website||Automatically recognizes new passwords and enters them on the corresponding website|
|Creating passwords||Customizable password generator with options for length, character type, and password or passphrase||Customizable password generator with similar fields, but missing support for passphrases|
|Changing passwords||Requires users to change their passwords through the corresponding website or app||Supports automatic password changes for a limited range of websites|
|Sharing Logins||Securely share text and other information through Bitwarden Send (no direct support for password sharing)||Instantly share information from your vault and give the recipient either full or limited access|
|Recovering Account||No account recovery mechanism if you’re locked out and forgot the master password||No account recovery mechanism if you’re locked out and forgot the master password (except for Teams and Business users)|
|Advanced security features||Supports two-factor authentication||Supports two-factor authentication plus dark web monitoring and a secure VPN|