The sheer number of features and the amount of technical jargon that can be involved in working out a password manager’s strengths and potential weaknesses can be daunting for new users. In our evaluation, we cut to the core of what makes a password management app effective, evaluating these two companies in the areas where performance is the most crucial. As a part of this comparison, we also provide the context you need to understand the specific kinds of users — individuals or families, small or large businesses — that are best served by what’s on offer in each case.
Each of the following five fundamental areas is a critical part of the overall picture in making an attractive password management solution.
1. Security & Encryption
The most basic function of a password manager is to securely store your data, protect it with up-to-date security methods and to provide strong encryption of data to protect the data on your machine, on servers where your vault data is stored and whenever data is in transit between the two. Any fully modernized password manager should provide for multifactor authentication.
2. App Compatibility
It’s important for your password manager to be available to you no matter where you are and no matter what kind of mobile or desktop framework you’re using. That kind of accessibility is key to making it easy to access and manage your accounts and vaults whenever the need strikes. The best password managers should be able to run smoothly on any device and popular web browser and in the widest possible range of operating systems. They should offer automatic syncing of data across all your devices as seamlessly and lag-free as possible.
3. Ease of Setup and Use
The old adage “time is money” holds true for everyone from the individual user to large companies. The more time you spend struggling with a password manager’s user interface or trying to work out how to effectively set up an account, the less time you have to devote to the core mission of your password management app. We evaluate how intuitive the setup process and interfaces of each app really are and whether they provide the convenience of biometric logins.
4. Password Sharing
Especially for family or business users, situations are bound to arise where sharing passwords can’t be avoided. For users who need robust password sharing, it’s important that your password manager gives you control over how and with whom passwords are shared, and that it carries out this mission as securely as possible.
The usefulness of password managers for different purposes also depends a lot on its pricing structure and what kinds of functionality they make available at different service tiers. Comparing the pricing and services of Dashlane and Keeper involved provided side-by-side comparisons of the prices at which they provide services for individuals, families, small business teams and larger companies — and on whether they provide unlimited password storage (especially for their paid tiers of service) and truly functional and useful free versions.
We spent over 10 hours researching Dashlane and Keeper to see how they compared in the five most important features of password management. Here’s how it all breaks down.
Both Dashlane and Keeper employ zero-knowledge security models, meaning that only you have access to your vault data. This comes with all the customary upsides and downsides of zero-knowledge models, which are increasingly the industry standard: the upside being that your data can’t be compromised by hacking company servers in the cloud, and the downside being that the onus is on the user to keep track of their account access data or risk being locked out of their vaults and having to start from scratch.
Dashlane employs a powerful two-secret-key model for security, restricting access to your vault based on both a master password and a unique device key. Your device key, generated when you download the app, is encrypted and stored locally, creating a de facto form of two-factor authentication that works in the background. Encryption uses the AES-256 paradigm in combination with the state-of-the-art Argon2d hashing algorithm, which gives Dashlane an edge (for the time being, at least) over even market leaders like 1Password in the security of its encryption.
An added layer of security comes from Dashlane’s Dark Web Monitoring module, which constantly checks online to see if any of your secure data has been leaked online and subjected to illegal activities like account selling, helping you to compensate quickly for vulnerabilities. This functions in combination with a powerful Password Changer feature that automatically identifies weak passwords in your vault and changes them out for strong passwords that are close to unbreakable.
Keeper also uses AES-256 encryption. It ties your master password to a unique key generated by 100,000 iterations of the PBKDF2 hashing algorithm. Keeper tries to circumvent the account recovery downsides of the zero-knowledge model with an interesting approach to account recovery, generating a separate data key based on a security question and answer (storing only the key, not the actual question and answer themselves), which you can use to recover your data if you’re ever locked out of your account. It compensates for weaknesses typically associated with security questions with the additional protection of two-factor authentication and a unique verification code.
Keeper offers its own take on dark web monitoring in the form of BreachWatch, which constantly analyzes the passwords in your vault and compares them with a database of credentials known to have been breached. Its KeeperChat module ties directly into the password manager and offers an encrypted messaging platform with self-destructing messages and two-factor authentication.
Both apps do very well on the security and encryption front, with Keeper’s account recovery feature offering added convenience. Still, Dashlane’s clever combination of dark web monitoring with its automated password changer gives it a slight edge.
Dashlane supports all major browsers and platforms, with some minor but fixable glitches reported with making the Dashlane extension’s toolbar accessible in Internet Explorer 11. It also supports lesser-known browsers like Brave, is one of the few password managers to make direct use of the MacBook Pro TouchBar and provides additional support through Intel SGX, a built-in backend data security safeguard in Intel’s seventh-gen processors that’s designed to act as a last line of defense for your locally stored data. The app provides biometric login support for a broad range of environments, although its biometric functionality in Android and Windows environments is a bit uneven.
Keeper supports the same range of popular browsers and platforms as Dashlane, and its biometric login support is arguably stronger with full functionality on most Android print readers and in Windows Hello.
In general, to whatever degree your plan supports multiple devices — and it’s worth noting that neither app supports multi-device syncing at its free tier of service (see below under Pricing) u201— both apps can largely be counted on to function seamlessly wherever they’re needed. Dashlane’s added support for Intel SGX and the MacBook Pro TouchBar are interesting features but not absolute must-haves, and both options involve slight tradeoffs, with neither company having a clear edge.
|Other||Brave, Intel SGX, MacBook Pro TouchBar, Biometric support for Face ID, Pixel Unlock, macOS & iOS, some (but not all) Android and Windows print readers||Biometric support for Face ID, Pixel Unlock, macOS & iOS, most Android print readers, Windows Hello|
Keeper’s web and desktop interfaces are clean, clear and intuitive and are closely similar in look and functionality, making it easy to manage your passwords in either browser or desktop settings. Aside from the unusual step of having to generate a security question and answer — tied to Keeper’s specialized account recovery strategy, covered above under Security & Encryption — downloading and setting up an account is a quick and simple process, and you can generate powerful new passwords at a click. It imports passwords seamlessly from more than 20 browsers and password managers, and organizing passwords is easy, with drag-and-drop records that can be easily customized, along with searchable folders. As we’ve already noted, Keeper does offer convenient biometric login options for a wide range of environments, a feature it shares with Dashlane, albeit with some differences in overall coverage between the two apps.
There are some slight drawbacks for Keeper’s ease of use: in particular, while it provides a handy Security Audit tool that identifies weak and reused passwords, it doesn’t offer any way to automate batch password changes. Each password must be manually updated in a five-click process, which can make a first pass to update and strengthen your passwords fairly exhausting. Its mobile app is slightly cluttered by comparison with the web and desktop apps, and there are sometimes slight confusions of terminology in the app as a whole; for example the provision of an Identity section of the app that actually stores very little identity information. None of these are deal breakers, however.
Dashlane offers a standalone app, direct account management through the Dashlane website and a browser extension. All of these are visually similar in design, with the minor drawback that they’re not as unified in their feature sets as they could be. Dashlane offers secure notes, biometric logins and VPN service at its paid tiers with a selection of VPNs in over 20 countries. The web browser version is relatively limited in its features compared to many competitors; on the other hand, it’s an excellent option for mobile-first users, providing functionality in its mobile apps that closely matches the desktop version.
Where Dashlane has a clear edge in ease-of-use is its powerful Password Changer, which can automatically change your passwords on hundreds of sites simultaneously. However, the Password Changer is limited by site- and country-specific support, so the actual mileage it provides for users will vary. Otherwise, both companies have their own particular strengths and weaknesses in this area, performing solidly with neither one having a clear advantage.
Keeper offers quick and easy password sharing. All that’s necessary is to enter the email address of the person you want to share a record with — you have fine-grained control of the level of access, and they’ll need either a free or paid account with Keeper to access the record — and they’ll receive a notification. You can also view any changes that have been made to a record within the last three years.
Dashlane provides password and secure note sharing — which can be used to store both general notes and specific note formats like bank account information — with the former managed through the Sharing Center. You can share items with other registered Dashlane users, much as with Keeper, although the degree of access control is more limited, with either read-only or joint-ownership access options. The Sharing Center provides a convenient display of the items you’ve shared or that have been shared with you. Both offerings are solid, although with its finer access control and the ability to view record histories, Keeper has a slight edge here.
Dashlane’s service and pricing tiers are focused squarely at individual and family use. Its free tier offers very minimal functionality, with no multi-device syncing and only 50 entries (which would fill up rapidly for any user). It’s clearly meant to be used at the Premium tier at a minimum, where VPN support and other fundamental features like its dark web monitoring module kick in. The price point for this is relatively high at $3.33 per month, but it’s still decent value for money for the individual user. At its Family tier, Dashlane costs $4.99 per month for five users. The Premium Plus tier is more like an identity theft protection package than simple password management and is highly expensive at $9.99 monthly; oddly, it both provides functionality that the average user Dashlane is targeting won’t need and doesn’t provide enough extra features specific to password management to justify the added cost.
Keeper’s prices and services are roughly similar to Dashlane’s at the individual user and Family user levels, with its Free version being relatively unimpressive (like Dashlane, it doesn’t offer multi-device syncing). Keeper’s Family tier pricing and features, in particular, are directly comparable to Dashlane’s, and its entry-level Personal paid tier is slightly cheaper at $2.49 per month. Unlike Dashlane, Keeper offers per-user pricing at its Business tier at an affordable $2.50 monthly per user.
The two companies are directly competitive with each other at the individual use and family levels, with Keeper being slightly cheaper for the entry-level individual user and Dashlane’s Premium Plus service looking almost superfluous in terms of value for money. Since Dashlane doesn’t offer per-user business or enterprise pricing, Keeper is the clear winner in that category and competitive in value with the industry standard.
|Individual||Free basic (limited functionality), Premium (includes VPN support) $3.33 per month (billed annually)||Free basic (limited functionality); Personal $2.49 per month (billed annually)|
|Family||Up to 5 private vaults at $4.99 per month (billed annually)||Up to 5 private vaults at $4.99 per month (billed annually)|
|Premium Plus||Credit monitoring and identity theft protection, $9.99 per month (billed annually)||N/A|
|Business||N/A||Private vault for each user, $2.50 per user / month (billed annually)|
Both of these apps are solid performers for password management, provided you have a clear understanding of how their functionality will address your needs. We summarize below how each of them handles the basic tasks of password management.
|Setting up the vault||Import feature from browsers and password managers, account setup on login||Same as Dashlane|
|Logging into accounts||Login information filled in on page load, with accounts and passwords accessible from a single grid in desktop app||Login information filled in on page load, with options in browser app to control where and how FormFill activates|
|Creating passwords||Password generator accessible when creating passwords||Same as Dashlane|
|Changing passwords||Automatic Password Changer||Password changes must be generated individually|
|Sharing log-ins||Paid service tiers allow record and secure note sharing||Paid service tiers allow record and secure note sharing and provide fine degrees of access control for shared items, along with 3-year shared record histories|
|Recovering account||Emergency Contact access||Emergency Contact access; Security question tied to unique data key|
|Advanced security features||Dark Web monitoring, VPN and YubiKey support, AES-256 encryption and advanced password hashing||Dark Web monitoring, AES-256 encryption|