Bitwarden and KeePass are two of the top password managers, offering free plans that are hard to beat. These services are comparable in price and security but provide a different range of features and functionality.
KeePass is unique among password managers for always being free, and while Bitwarden offers paid plans, its free tier has most of the basic functionality you could want. While both password managers offer most of the features you’d expect, take a closer look to determine the best password manager of the two.
Which password manager should you get? Let this Bitwarden vs. KeePass face-off help you decide.
Bitwarden and KeePass are two of the most popular free password managers. We spent over 10 hours researching and comparing Bitwarden vs KeePass to see how each of them stacked up on the five most important features. Here are some of the strong and weak points of both and other things we learned.
|Password manager||Details||Basic plan features|
Read our full Bitwarden review.
|Starting price: Free|
Platform compatibility: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Web (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, Tor
Security: AES 256-bit encryption, 2FA
Read our full KeePass review.
|Starting price: Free|
Platform compatibility: Windows, Linux
Security: AES 256-bit encryption, ChaCha20, Twofish, 2FA
Price winner: Draw
|Bitwarden(5.0)||Free basic plan; $10 per year for Premium; $40 per year for Family (up to six users); $3 per person per month for Business; $5 per user per month for Enterprise|
Both Bitwarden and KeePass offer always-free plans, making them two of the best free password managers available. The difference is this free plan is the only one KeePass offers, while Bitwarden has other upgraded offerings starting at $10 per year. Depending on your preference, having paid tiers may be a benefit or a drawback.
Since KeePass only offers a free plan, you can trust you’re always getting the best the service offers. Meanwhile, if you want all of the features Bitwarden offers, you must pay for a Premium plan. That said, these plans start for less than $1 per month.
While KeePass is always free, donations are accepted to reward the developer, Dominik Reichl, for his work — which is ongoing as there are regular updates to the software.
Platform compatibility winner: Bitwarden
|Bitwarden(5.0)||OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
Supported browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, Tor
|KeePass(3.0)||OS: Windows, Linux|
Supported browsers: N/A
Bitwarden is compatible with nearly every platform and browser — even the lesser known Vivaldi and Tor. Being able to use even the free version with nearly every operating system and browser is a huge selling point, in my mind.
Many free password managers — KeePass included — only offer limited compatibility. Bitwarden is also available in over 50 languages.
KeePass, on the other hand, has one of the most limited compatibility features of any password manager I’ve reviewed. It only works with Windows and Linux; KeePass may not be a valid option if you use macOS, iOS, or Android. Since it is a non-commercial, open-source project, there’s unlikely to be a more widely compatible version anytime soon.
That said, being open source means others can expand on the work laid out by Reichl. He even includes links on his download page to ports for other operating systems, including Android, iOS, and macOS.
Winner: Bitwarden because it works with all major operating systems and browsers.
UX winner: Bitwarden
|Bitwarden(5.0)||Clean, user-friendly interface|
|KeePass(3.0)||Outdated but functional|
A common complaint with cheap password managers is an unappealing user interface. There isn’t much incentive to finesse the layout when offering the service for a pittance, but Bitwarden proves the exception to this rule.
Bitwarden offers, by far, the better UX of these two password managers. It has a clean, easy-to-use interface across desktop, browser, and mobile apps. I appreciated how minimalist the layout is. Even the browser extension was convenient with vault items added directly from the browser, something not all password managers offer.
KeePass shows what money can — or, in this case, does not — buy with its UX. Its interface looks like something designed for Windows XP that’s never been updated. Despite its unappealing appearance, however, it gets the job done.
The biggest downside is the lack of hand-holding or tutorials during set-up, so you have to figure out how to navigate it on your own. Once I got a handle on its layout, I found it fairly easy to understand. So while it won’t win any beauty contests, I have worked with more confusing interfaces, and this password manager is entirely free.
Winner: Bitwarden wins UX because it provides a clean, user-friendly interface that’s easy to navigate.
Form filling winner: Bitwarden
|Bitwarden(4.5)||Top-tier form filling for login and credit card information; won’t pre-populate addresses|
|KeePass(3.0)||Not technically offered|
Bitwarden’s form filling feature works as well as any password manager I’ve used. It successfully populates login and credit card information.
However, two shortcomings brought it down from a 5-star experience: First, it doesn’t have a vault template for addresses which means they won’t work for autofill. I found this to be a major detractor since I had to complete my own billing and shipping fields, something most basic browsers will do automatically.
The second flaw is that you have to trigger the form-filling feature through the browser extension. Other top password managers, such as 1Password and NordPass, have icons that appear automatically in unfilled fields. Instead, you have to make a few extra clicks to get Bitwarden to fill these fields.
KeePass doesn’t technically offer form filling as part of its service. But its Auto Type feature does essentially the same thing and more, although it requires a bit more legwork to set up and use.
Auto Type will complete fields for you when prompted with a preset keystroke. You can modify the keystroke to whatever you prefer and even use it to trigger Auto Type to perform functions outside of web browsing.
This greater functionality comes at the cost of usability; you’ll need to set up each site you want to autofill fields on. I had to watch a few tutorials on how to set it up, which felt a bit tedious, but once I got a handle on it, I enjoyed the feature.
Winner: Bitwarden wins form filling because it offers a reliable feature.
Security winner: Draw
Bitwarden and KeePass both provide top-of-the-line security. As with most of the best password managers, these two have 256-bit AES encryption, which is used by government and military agencies. This alone would be enough to adequately protect your data, but Bitwarden and KeePass also take security up a notch with additional features.
Bitwarden uses zero-knowledge architecture that encrypts data at the device level (not on the server) to ensure you are the only one with access to your unencrypted data. It also offers 2FA.
KeePass ups its security with 256-bit ChaCha20 in addition to 256-bit AES encryption. ChaCha20 is resistant to known attacks and provides both heightened security and speed by encrypting data in fixed-size blocks. On top of this, KeePass applies a master key: Your data can only be decrypted when you use this key.
Double encryption plus a master key ensure your data is as safe as can be on KeePass.
Winner: Draw because both providers provide top-level security.
2FA winner: Bitwarden
Both Bitwarden and KeePass support 2FA, but Bitwarden gives you many more options for how to use it. All Bitwarden plans offer 2FA with authenticator apps (which use time-based one-time passwords, or TOTPs), Plans also have email and Duo, a third-party service that provides authentication through push notifications, text messages, and phone calls.
Premium Bitwarden plans can also use 2FA with physical keys, such as YubiKey, and FIDO WebAuthn Authenticator, one of the most secure forms of 2FA.
KeePass falls far behind competitors regarding 2FA options: It only works with an OTP generator. While the whole process feels clunky, it gets the job done.
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon from a device you don’t usually use, you’ve probably been through a 2FA experience similar to the one KeePass uses. It sends you a text or email with a confirmation code you enter to access your account.
As with many of KeePass’s features, setting up 2FA is far from intuitive, but when you remember this is free software, you may appreciate that it offers 2FA at all.
Winner: Bitwarden wins 2FA because it provides a range of authentication options and an easy-to-use service.
Bottom line winner: Bitwarden
Best for: If you want a free password manager that doesn’t sacrifice performance
Best for: Those who are willing to tinker or businesses with a dedicated information technology (IT) professional
KeePass is one of the few always-free password managers. Given this and all its functionality — despite requiring a bit more setup work — it’s a top contender for the best free password manager. But does it deserve a spot on the best password managers overall list? I have doubts.
Alongside Bitwarden, KeePass only compares in terms of security and price. I was impressed with KeePass’s security measures, but I’m not sure they’re above and beyond enough to compensate for its limitations.
Bitwarden, on the other hand, is a clear contender for overall best password manager. While you have to pay for a Premium plan to get all of the features, even its Free tier plan provides all the functionality most individuals could want.
It has one of the widest platform compatibilities I’ve seen among password managers, a smooth and easy-to-use interface, reliable form-filling, diverse 2FA, and top-end security.
The only features I was missing with Bitwarden are dark web monitoring and extra storage — it caps out at 1GB per user — and biometric 2FA options. Otherwise, I’d say Bitwarden is as good of a password manager as you’re likely to find.
On the surface, all password managers essentially generate and store passwords. As I evaluated providers, I dug deeper, comparing software on what matters most, including price, platform compatibility, security, and other factors.
I signed up for a plan with each provider to test:
Learn more about our review methodology.
About the Password Manager, Gunnar Kallstrom:
Kallstrom is a Cyber Team Lead for a Department of Defense (DOD) contracting company in Huntsville, Alabama, and has also worked as a computer network defense (CND) Cyber Analyst. An author and content creator for a cybersecurity academy, Kallstrom spent nearly 15 years in the Army as a musician before entering the cybersecurity field.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Thomas Edison State University and a master’s in organizational development and leadership from the University of the Incarnate Word.
Kallstrom has completed several Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) courses, including Security+, Network+, A+ Core 1, and A+ Core 2. He earned a CompTIA Security+ Certification. Additionally, he has completed the Cyber Warrior Academy program with more than 800 hours of hands-on, intensive, and lab-driven technical training in cybersecurity methods and procedures.
Passionate about all things cyber, Kallstrom was a speaker on a panel at the 2022 InfoSec World conference, giving a talk entitled “Hacking into a Cyber Career – True Stories.” Kallstrom is also a mentor to entry-level cybersecurity candidates seeking to break into the field. When he’s not working, he still enjoys playing guitar and fishing (not phishing).