While all major password managers share some common functionality, there are as many differences as similarities. With each platform offering a long list of features, it’s tough for an average user to sift through those details and find the service that’s right for them. Our goal was to bring you the most relevant factors to help you make a more informed decision. Keep in mind that the right password manager for you depends on what you’re looking for.
Different users have different needs and priorities with respect to password managers, but some basic features are relevant to essentially every use case. We centered our comparison on these five criteria to give you a clear picture of the pros and cons of NordPass and Bitwarden.
Security & Encryption
When it comes to keeping track of your passwords, you can’t afford to compromise security. Since an insecure password manager is basically useless, encryption and other security tools should be your first considerations.
Encryption refers to the process of encoding information so that it can’t be intercepted by the wrong people. Most password managers use AES 256-bit encryption, which is the industry standard. As you’ll see later, however, both NordPass and Bitwarden are a little different.
Other features like two-factor authentication (2FA) and zero-knowledge policies are also relevant to a platform’s overall security. While security and encryption aren’t exactly the most exciting topics, it’s important to take them seriously as you look for a new password manager.
In the same way, a password manager won’t be very helpful to you if it doesn’t work with the devices that you typically use. App compatibility is all about the devices, operating systems, and browsers that are supported by a particular password manager.
Certain password managers use dedicated desktop apps, while others focus on browser extensions. Some providers even offer both options. Virtually every major platform in 2023 comes with a mobile app for iOS and Android, so you won’t have to worry about that regardless of the password manager you want to use.
Finally, some password managers are available via the internet, which removes the need to install any software at all. This option makes them significantly more versatile, especially for people who regularly find themselves using new or shared devices.
Setup and Ease of Use
Remembering a long list of unique passwords is extremely complicated. However, it’s no surprise that so many people switch to password managers to make things simpler for themselves.
Naturally, ease of use is one of the most important things to look for in a new password manager. The top providers streamline the process of signing up, importing existing passwords from another source, and storing new passwords.
If your password manager has any trouble with these functions, you’ll end up wasting time on those tasks yourself. We spent some time working with both NordPass and Bitwarden to understand how these two providers compare with respect to usability.
Along with storing passwords for your own use, you may also be interested in sharing them with other people. While many internet users share their passwords through channels like email and short message service (SMS), it’s much safer to share sensitive information through an encrypted channel, such as a secure password manager.
With the right platform, you should be able to share passwords with others quickly and securely — whether they’re using the same password manager as you. Some applications come with customization tools that allow users to set up security measures like password protection, expiration dates, and access permissions.
No software comparison is complete without a consideration of price. Pricing varies widely in the password manager market, and there’s a significant difference between NordPass and Bitwarden. While both providers offer a free option, Bitwarden’s paid subscription is much less expensive.
Of course, price is only one of many factors that you should be looking at. In some cases, you might be OK with a more expensive platform if it has more of what you’re seeking. We’ll cover all of the pros and cons of these two platforms to help you determine whether NordPass premium is worth the extra cost.
Before we talk about each provider’s security features in more detail, it’s worth noting that NordPass and Bitwarden both use unconventional encryption methods. NordPass uses XChaCha20 encryption while Bitwarden uses AES-CBC 256-bit encryption, which is the standard form of AES encryption in 2023 for vaults, and PBKDF2 SHA-256 bit encryption to derive encryption keys.
It would be difficult to explain fully the technical differences between encryption protocols in a password manager review, but you can learn more about these forms of encryption on the NordPass and Bitwarden websites. While many other providers rely exclusively on AES 256-bit encryption, NordPass and Bitwarden have strong reputations despite their unusual encryption strategies.
Aside from encryption, 2FA is the most critical security feature for most password manager users. Once you set up 2FA, you’ll need to approve or decline new login attempts. A hacker won’t be able to access a 2FA-secured account even after getting the password, so this is a fundamental layer of security for any sensitive account.
NordPass supports three methods of 2FA: conventional authenticator applications, USB security keys, and preset backup codes. Its website doesn’t offer a clear list of supported authenticator apps, but NordPass at least claims to support Authy, Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, and “many others.”
If you go with Bitwarden, your 2FA options depend on your account tier. Free users are limited to email and authenticator apps while premium members can also use YubiKey or Duo Security.
Like NordPass, Bitwarden provides pre-set recovery codes that can help you get back into your account if you’re having trouble with your usual 2FA method. You can only see these while you’re logged in, so they won’t do any good in a lockout unless you have them written down somewhere else.
Both applications come with comparable security features, use zero-knowledge policies, and provide other helpful tools, such as password generators and password strength checkers. It’s hard to find any clear advantage for one or the other in the category of security and encryption.
Both NordPass and Bitwarden offer thorough support for all major devices and operating systems, but there are still some important differences when it comes to app compatibility.
First, NordPass users can download dedicated apps for iOS and Android as well as Windows, macOS, and Linux. There are also NordPass extensions available for the Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera browsers.
Even without downloading any apps or extensions, you can still access your NordPass account and passwords through the web vault. This option makes it easy to log into your account on new devices, especially devices that are public or shared with other users.
NordPass is solid on app compatibility, but Bitwarden still comes out ahead in this category. Like NordPass, Bitwarden offers apps for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can also log into your account through the website to access your vault without downloading any software.
However, Bitwarden gives users more installation choices than are available with NordPass. On top of downloading the desktop app from the Bitwarden website or the Windows/Mac App Store, you have the option to use a homebrew package manager if you’re on macOS. Similarly, Windows users can download Bitwarden onto a portable flash drive or install it with Chocolatey, which is a command-line-based package manager.
Bitwarden remains ahead of NordPass when it comes to browser extensions. It supports the same four as NordPass — Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera — as well as Safari, Brave, Vivaldi, and even Tor Browser. Safari is one of the most commonly used web browsers, and Tor is a popular option among security-focused users.
Finally, Bitwarden offers a command-line interface that allows users to write and execute their own custom scripts. That flexibility is a significant advantage for Bitwarden over NordPass and most other password managers in 2023. Most people can use NordPass seamlessly on all their devices, but Bitwarden still has a decisive advantage in app compatibility.
To sign up for NordPass, start by going to its website or downloading the NordPass app. Since accounts are shared across all Nord services, you may already have an account if you’ve used other solutions like NordLocker or NordVPN. You can create an account using your email address or by connecting to a Google or Apple account.
NordPass uses both an account password and a master password. The account password controls your account across all Nord services, while the master password specifically protects your NordPass vault. Make sure to use two different passwords to maximize your security.
The interface itself is sleek and largely similar to what we’ll see with Bitwarden. Categories, folders, and tools are listed on the left, and you can import or manually create entries to add to your vault. We found NordPass extremely easy to use on macOS, and the app should work similarly on other devices and operating systems.
You can sign up for a Bitwarden account by downloading its app or clicking “Get Started” on the website. All you need to create a new account is an email address, name, and master password. The backup codes mentioned earlier are the only account recovery mechanism, so you should use a master password that you’re sure to remember.
Bitwarden’s design is relatively straightforward. At the bottom, there are tabs for “My Vault” and “Send,” which is where you can share text and files with other users. The left-hand side shows different types and categories of entries. You can organize your vault by using the preset categories, marking entries as favorites, or creating your own custom categories.
Both NordPass and Bitwarden come with built-in password sharing features. With these tools, you can let other people use your passwords through end-to-end encryption while maintaining full control over their access.
Note that NordPass only offers password sharing for paying subscribers, while Bitwarden also supports password sharing for free users. Premium Bitwarden members gain the ability to share files, such as images, but there’s no change with respect to sharing passwords or other texts.
You have two basic options when sharing passwords through NordPass: either full or limited access. When you give another user full access to a particular entry, they can use, view, and even edit that entry without needing any additional permissions. However, limited access allows the recipient to use the password through autofill, but they won’t be able to make changes or see the password in plain text unless you switch to full access.
Bitwarden’s sharing tools work a little differently. Instead of sharing passwords directly, you can share file attachments or custom texts that aren’t connected to the information in your vault. In other words, you have to copy and paste entries from the vault before you can share them through Bitwarden Send.
One issue with Bitwarden’s password sharing functionality is that it doesn’t support anything like the “limited access” option from NordPass. There’s currently no way to share an entry through Bitwarden without enabling the recipient to read the entry in text form.
At the same time, Bitwarden comes with sharing options that aren’t available with NordPass. As long as they have a premium account, Bitwarden users can send files of up to 500 MB at a time. They can also set an expiration date, a limit on total access attempts, or a password that recipients have to enter to view the entry itself. Since both Bitwarden and NordPass offer some unique password sharing settings, this category comes down to the features you find most important.
As mentioned earlier, you can get free access from either NordPass or Bitwarden. Both platforms are surprisingly generous to free users compared to most other password managers.
With NordPass, you can store an unlimited number of passwords and sync them on unlimited devices even if you’re using the free plan. Still, you can only be logged in to one device at a time, so you’ll have to sign in again every time you switch devices. The free option is also missing some helpful features, such as 2FA, emergency access, password sharing, and dark web monitoring.
Bitwarden’s free plan is even more functional since it supports secure sharing of text ― file sharing is limited to paid subscribers. As with NordPass, free Bitwarden members have no limits on devices or passwords. The free plan doesn’t come with storage, and only a few 2FA methods are supported, but those are small nitpicks for a free password manager.
NordPass advertises its free plan at $2.49 per month, but you have to commit to two full years to get that rate. The price goes up to $2.99 per month paid annually or $4.99 per month paid monthly. Premium introduces the missing features noted above and a handful of additional tools.
If you want to sign up with a group, you can also get a family plan that comes with support for up to six users. Each family member essentially has access to the same features as a regular premium subscriber. Family subscriptions run $4.99 per month paid every two years, $5.99 per month paid annually, or $7.99 per month paid monthly.
However, Bitwarden’s premium plan is significantly more affordable than the corresponding subscription from NordPass. An entire year costs just $10, which works out to a rate of less than $1 per month. Even with a full two-year commitment to NordPass, you’ll still end up paying more than twice as much on a monthly basis.
With a premium Bitwarden plan, you’ll get 1 GB of encrypted storage, emergency access, priority support, vault health reports, file sharing, and extra 2FA methods that aren’t available with the free tier. NordPass doesn’t offer any file storage at all, so Bitwarden is a better choice for users who want to store documents as well as passwords.
NordPass is a solid password manager with a deep set of features. At the same time, Bitwarden stands apart due to its more powerful free plan, better user reviews, support for additional devices, and extra tools that aren’t available with NordPass. When you consider that you would have to pay significantly more for NordPass, it becomes even clearer that Bitwarden is the more practical option.
Of course, these are just two of many applications to choose from if you’re looking for a new password manager. Our list of the best password managers in 2023 has detailed information about other leading providers, such as 1Password, Dashlane, Keeper, RoboForm, LastPass, and Enpass.