Google Password Manager is a go-to for Google users for its ease of use and availability, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Potential password manager users should keep these pros and cons in mind when making a decision.
|Accessible across every device that supports Google Chrome||No option to upgrade for better services or options|
|Free resource with no strings attached||Only available using Google Chrome with no compatibility with apps, desktop software products or other browsers|
|Saves and autofills passwords as well as credit card numbers and addresses||Limited functionality due to browser-specific use|
The features offered by password managers are often key in weighing one product against another. These five features — security and encryption, application compatibility, ease of use, password sharing, and price — can play a big role in the decision-making process.
Many password managers go above and beyond to secure all information, including using a zero-knowledge model that encrypts server data in a way that isn’t even accessible by company employees. However, these kinds of advanced security measures tend to be somewhat prioritized by programs that function specifically as password managers rather than those that are part of a browser.
While Google Password Manager does keep information secure, its practices aren’t quite as detailed as subscription-based password managers. This is largely because the use of Google Password Manager is just one facet of a larger being. Google Password Manager is simply a feature of Google’s infrastructure and is protected by the same measures used to safeguard Gmail accounts and other customer information. Google isn’t quite as transparent about what it does to keep information protected as most standalone password managers but promises sophisticated physical security, encryption techniques, strong internal controls and consistently evolving practices to keep customer information secure. The company also pays hackers via a Vulnerability Reward Program, challenging them to find weaknesses in their systems so that pain points can be addressed before trouble comes to call.
Google is a trusted name for email, cloud storage, web searches and business services, so it stands to reason the company would be trusted as a password manager as well. That said, password managers that work solely in this space may offer protections better suited to password-specific security and encryption.
For most people, being able to access things like email, social media, bank accounts, and entertainment accounts across multiple devices is a plus. From cashing checks on a computer to streaming Netflix on an iPhone, most modern web users rely on multiple devices. As such, a password manager needs to be able to accommodate as many avenues for use as possible.
As a browser-specific password manager, Google Password Manager is most effective for those who use Google as a primary resource for everything. Passwords can be accessed across devices regardless of operating system, but only so long as Google Chrome is used. Using Safari on an iPhone or Firefox on a Windows PC laptop, for example, means no autofill password support. As such, this also means things like apps are often off the table because anything not accessed through Chrome itself won’t be saved in the password manager.
Despite the limitations, many people who use Google Chrome heavily still see the merit in using Google Password Manager. As other browsers and devices, like Apple iPhones, have their own password managers built in, casual web users may not find frustration in sharing password management services across multiple platforms. In addition, passwords can be accessed in other browsers in a pinch by going to passwords.google.com and logging in.
|Google Password Manager App Compatibility|
|iOS||If using Google Chrome|
|Android||If using Google Chrome or with select compatible apps|
|Windows PC||If using Google Chrome|
|MacOS||If using Google Chrome|
|Linux||If using Google Chrome|
If nothing else, Google Password Manager is extremely simple to use. There is no complex registration or subscription process; the ability to use Google Password Manager is automatic for anyone with a Google account. Once users are logged into a Google account while using Chrome, the option to save passwords appears immediately at the top right corner. Users can then choose to save details, forgo saving for now or block saving for good. Google Password Manager offers a password generator similar to its competitors, but there are no customization options related to length or content.
Google can also remember addresses that are used often or added to profiles as well as details like credit card information. When possible, passwords and additional information will be autofilled upon page load. If multiple logins are available, a drop-down in the login area will allow users to choose a different username and password combination.
The password manager interface itself is plain but effective. Once on the passwords page, users can view all active saved passwords, view and edit details and delete stored information. Users can also use the password checkup option to make sure passwords are as secure as possible and see potential security problems from passwords that have been involved in known breaches.
For some people, password sharing is a valuable part of a password manager. An easy way to give passwords to others, this feature can be very useful in the case of shared accounts and in some business contexts. Google Password Manager, however, does not have any kind of sharing features. Users can view passwords to copy and share using a different method, but there is no secure way to share passwords as most other password managers allow. A lack of password sharing may be a significant detriment for some people but of little consequence to others.
The price is potentially the most appealing thing about Google Password Manager: It’s free. Google accounts for personal use are always free, and so are the associated account features, like Google Drive and Google Password Manager. For many people, especially those who do not use many services outside of Google, this alone makes Google Password Manager well worth it. There are no limitations on things like the number of accounts or devices in use like many other free options have, providing a great service at no cost.
However, the lack of a paid option can be a little limiting for those hoping for more robust plan functions. There are no family or team plan options like many alternatives offer, and business use isn’t a specific capability. Instead, the ability to use Google Password Manager is simply included along with the rest of Google’s apps when businesses purchase Google business accounts.
|Google Password Manager Plans & Pricing|
|Business||Free service available when businesses choose to use Gmail for Business|
|Enterprise||Free service available when businesses choose to use Gmail for Business|
While things like security are clearly important, overall functionality plays a vital role as well. The chart below outlines the different functions of Google Password Manager.
|Functionality||How It Works|
|Setting up the vault||There is no extensive setup process. Getting started with Google Password Manager is as easy as creating a Google account.|
|Logging into accounts||Passwords are autofilled upon page load or after clicking in a login field if multiple logins exist.|
|Creating passwords||Google Password Manager does have a password generation feature, but there is no way to customize the end result. Users can also create their own passwords.|
|Changing passwords||Users must change passwords manually using individual site capabilities. The password generator can be used to create new passwords.|
|Sharing logins||Google Password Manager does not have sharing capabilities.|
|Recovering account||Recovering an account involves Google’s standard account recovery technology, which includes SMS codes, backup email accounts or manual verification of identity.|
|Advanced security features||N/A|
For customers who need a simple, affordable product, Google Password Manager ticks many boxes. For most users, the non-existent price point is the highlight of this straightforward service. As one reviewer puts it, “Google Chrome Password Manager is free for everyone as part of the browser. There are no hidden costs, neither it has a paid version. It’s also updated constantly which is pretty impressive for open-source software.”
Other reviewers speak to the ease of use, stating that many Chrome and Android users find themselves employing — and enjoying — the service by default without even noticing. “As always with Google this is a well-thought and convenient product. In fact, most of Chrome and Android users probably use it, like I did, without necessary having made the choice conscientiously or even without noticing it,” says one reviewer.
Google Password Manager isn’t a traditional password manager. As a browser tool rather than a standalone management platform, Google Password Manager works a little differently than most of its rivals. However, it’s easy, safe to use and completely free with no paid option to upgrade, making it a great option for those who don’t need extensive functionality. While capabilities are more limited than the competition, the price tag is well worth it for those willing to settle with slightly less robust features.