There are plenty of password managers to consider on the market, from premium subscription-based products to free versions that can handle the basics. We did our research on the best of the best, highlighting some of the most trusted names in the field, and that includes both the Free and Premium versions of LastPass. Keep in mind that what is best for one person or business isn’t necessarily right for another. As with any other software product, choosing a password manager is a personal endeavor.
Password managers come in many different shapes and sizes, but there are a few elements that are more important to consider than others. These five crucial features — security, compatibility, ease of use, price, and password sharing — should all be at the top of your list when weighing your options.
1. Security & Encryption
Password managers are an important tool for organizing passwords and related account information, but they’re also a critical part of protecting them. A poorly protected password manager can lead to account breaches, putting your personal information at risk. A good password manager will use sophisticated security practices, like advanced encryption procedures and no-knowledge models, to ensure user information is protected from both cyber criminals and company employees. Technology is also constantly changing, so a strong password manager will take continuous steps to stay on top of evolving best practices.
2. App Compatibility
Most people have more than one internet-enabled device, including work computers, personal computers, smartphones, and tablets. Using separate password managers across all devices can be inconvenient and frustrating, especially when complex passwords are in use. A good password manager should be adaptable as possible, working across all devices for the sake of continuity and ease of use. Not all password managers are compatible with everything, but making an educated decision requires understanding app compatibility and ensuring all of your personal devices are included.
3. Usability and Ease of Use
Password managers come in lots of shapes and sizes, and some are easier to use than others. If you want to make the most of your choice, finding a product that meets your needs while still being easy to use can be a big benefit. An overly complicated password manager can result in an inability to understand features or make use of important aspects of the program, leading to a loss of functionality. A good password manager is easy to set up and provides an intuitive user interface.
4. Password Sharing
Not all password manager users will have a need for password sharing, but for those who have joint accounts for personal or business use, effective sharing is essential. Some password managers make sharing cumbersome, requiring complicated folder or vault setup to share a single account, but others boast a streamlined process that allows fast, easy sharing in a few clicks. How much this matters will depend on personal circumstances, but robust sharing functionality is a must-have for many password manager customers.
For those uninterested in a significant investment for password management, price matters. While some free plans do exist from reputable names in the industry, they can’t always live up to more comprehensive needs. Monthly cost for password managers can be as low as $2 for a basic plan, with costs increasing from there for family or business plans. Many business, team or enterprise plans charge per user, allowing for variable rates depending on the extent of use.
To help you make the right decision for you, we spent over 10 hours researching the differences and similarities between LastPass Free and LastPass Premium. The breakdown of how these two platforms rank based on our key features is below.
Most of the security basics used by LastPass are consistent between the Free and Premium versions. All user information is protected with PBKDF2 SHA-256 and AES-256 encryption algorithms to best protect data, as well as the zero-knowledge approach embraced by LastPass. (The best password managers operate using this model; under zero-knowledge, all customer information stored on company servers is encrypted, meaning that it isn’t available to anyone but the user.) Even LastPass employees cannot access customer data. LastPass also uses multifactor authentication to best secure accounts and provides a few other beneficial services, like account audits to identify weak passwords.
There are, however, several benefits available to Premium users not included for those enjoying the Free plan. The most sophisticated multi-factor security options, like fingerprint authentication, aren’t available in the Free version. This is also true for emergency access, a way for trusted friends or family members to be granted account access in cases of emergency.
For those with multiple devices — which, at this point, includes just about everyone — app compatibility is absolutely essential. This can range from users with both a laptop and a smartphone to those who simply prefer different browsers for different purposes. For users concerned with extensive compatibility, both LastPass Free and LastPass Premium are solid choices. LastPass can accommodate virtually all operating systems, mobile operating systems, and browsers. This includes Mac, Windows, and Linux devices as well as iOS and Android. LastPass is even compatible with Windows phones and Windows RT, which isn’t common among the competition. The only somewhat popular option without LastPass compatibility is BlackBerry.
LastPass Free provides connectivity across all devices, a feature that is a rarity in the free password manager market. Many rival free products limit use to a single device, significantly limiting functionality. LastPass Free has no such limitations, keeping users consistently connected, whether at work, at home, or on the go.
|LastPass Premium||LastPass Free|
|Other||Dolphin, Windows Phone, Windows RT||Dolphin, Windows Phone, Windows RT|
LastPass is beloved by its fans for many reasons, and ease of use is near the top of the list. LastPass is considered a very user-friendly password manager with a clear, simple interface.
Once an account is created, users are free to input account details as needed. Those who have used other password managers in the past can import information directly, duplicating all information stored previously. After an account has been stored within LastPass, users can add notes or build out more comprehensive profiles with other information, like Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, birthdays, and routing numbers. Saved passwords will autofill when pages load, but users can change information manually for sites that have more than one login.
When users register on new sites, LastPass assists with password creation to ensure a secure account. Users can customize passwords by selecting password length as well as how or if letters, numbers, or special characters are used. Changing passwords can be managed with the password generator as well, and some passwords on LastPass member sites can be changed automatically at regular intervals for the best security possible.
As they’re essentially the same product operating on the same platform, ease of use between LastPass Premium and Free are quite similar. Premium does offer a few advantages, however, like use with applications, 1 GB of file storage, and priority tech support.
For those with robust password sharing needs, LastPass Premium is the clear winner.
Both the Free and Premium versions use the Sharing Center, an option within both the browser extension and the application itself. Within the Sharing Center, users can put together folders to share as desired. The process of creating folders is the same between both versions. Folders can contain a single password or an entire group of passwords based on user preferences. Each sharing transaction doesn’t require a new folder; folders can be shared over and over again with different users.
The scale of sharing is where the Free and Premium versions differ, however. While Free is limited to person-to-person sharing, Premium allows for sharing with multiple users at once. This can expedite the process of sharing passwords with groups of people, negating the need to individually send passwords. For those with extensive password sharing needs, this alone can be worth the cost of a paid subscription. However, for those who do not see a significant need to share account information, limitations on sharing may not be an area of concern.
The primary difference between LastPass Free and Premium is, of course, the price. The Free version is, as the name implies, free. This is somewhat unique in the world of password managers; while some trusted names do provide free services, they tend to be extremely limited. However, LastPass offers one of the best free alternatives on the market, providing enough functionality to satisfy even active web users.
LastPass provides many perks other free platforms don’t, like use across all devices and available, albeit limited, sharing. For some people, this will be enough.
LastPass Premium is LastPass’ paid model, providing all the perks of LastPass Free with some significant advantages. The price difference isn’t substantial, either; at just $3 a month for a personal plan, superior password protection is available for just $36 a year. A family plan is $4 per month with the option for six premium licenses, and business plans start at $3 per user per month. With such a minor price difference, many customers may feel more comfortable paying a small amount each month for a more comprehensive product.
|LastPass Premium||LastPass Free|
|Individual||$3 per month premium (billed annually)||Free basic plan|
|Family||$4 per month, up to 6 users (billed annually)||N/A|
|Teams||$4 per user per month (billed annually), 5-50 users||N/A|
|Business||“Enterprise” plan starts at $6/user/month (billed annually)||N/A|
|Enterprise||Custom pricing for specific needs, $4/user/month otherwise||N/A|
Both LastPass Free and LastPass Premium have a lot to offer to customers, from advanced security measures to affordable pricing. However, as with any tool, it’s important to know how to maximize available opportunities. The below comparison table outlines the main functions of password managers and how they differ between Premium and Paid LastPass models.
As two versions of a program provided by the same company, LastPass Free and Premium have more similarities than differences. This chart offers a breakdown of the key functions for these two password manager plans.
|LastPass Premium||LastPass Free|
|Setting up the vault||Account setup is fast and easy with security by a master password. Once an account has been created, users can import passwords from other password managers.||Same as the Premium version.|
|Logging into accounts||Login information is autofilled in applicable fields upon page load. If a site has multiple passwords available, autofill can be disabled.||Same as the Premium version.|
|Creating new passwords||LastPass offers a password generator that allows users to create new passwords. The password generator allows for customization based on password length and use of letters, numbers, and special characters. Users are also permitted to create their own passwords.||Same as the Premium version.|
|Changing passwords||Users can change passwords using the password generator or their own chosen passwords. Limited auto-change functionality is available on selected partner sites.||Same as the Premium version.|
|Sharing logins||All paid plans allow sharing with individual users. Premium users are permitted to share with user groups as well as one-to-one.||Sharing is limited between individual users. There is no multi-user sharing functionality. Users can share unlimited logins on a one-to-one basis.|
|Recovering your account||Password hints and SMS codes can be used to recover a LastPass account.||Same as the Premium version.|
|Advanced security features||LastPass uses advanced encryption, a zero-knowledge model, multifactor authentication including use of fingerprints and emergency access functionality.||The Free version of LastPass does not have any additional advanced security features outside of basic encryption and zero-knowledge policies; these are reserved for paid subscriptions.|