In today’s digital landscape, where people commonly possess numerous online accounts, password managers simplify the management of login credentials. If you have reservations about using a password manager, learn more about how password managers work and the benefits of using one.

How Password Managers Work

Password managers are applications that store, sync, and share passwords and other information. For example, some password managers accept credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, personal notes, and usernames and passwords.

Most people who aren’t using a dedicated password manager store passwords in their browser or a cloud account, such as iCloud. When you start with a password manager, you can import passwords from your existing provider. The password manager should also be able to recognize new passwords and enter them on the corresponding site automatically.

Some people hesitate to switch to a dedicated password manager because they’re concerned about their security or simply unfamiliar with this software. That said, password managers are a good idea for most people because they make keeping track of your passwords easier and your accounts more secure.

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The Benefits of Password Managers

Without a password manager, it’s difficult for most people to create and remember strong passwords for each account. However, that’s far from the only reason to use a password manager. Let’s look at some main arguments for and against using one.

Access across devices

If you’ve ever tried to log into one of your accounts on a different device from the one used to sign up, you know how frustrating this can be. For example, even if your passwords are stored on your work computer, they won’t pop up on your phone unless you set up cross-device syncing.

In 2023, virtually every major password manager streamlines access on all devices. As long as you’re logged in using your master password, you can log in seamlessly regardless of your device. If you change a password on one device, you won’t have to worry about updating it on the rest.

Accessing accounts on different devices, apps, and browsers is a key issue for browser-based password managers. When you want to use a new device, app, or just a different browser, you’ll have to figure out how to import your passwords from your existing browser. Some browsers have started to close the gap concerning cross-device compatibility, but it’s hard to beat the convenience of a dedicated password manager.

Password generation

Most current password managers include generators that can create strong passwords quickly. You won’t have to think about whether a password is strong enough or if you’ll be able to remember it — let your password manager do the work for you.

Some password managers offer fine-grained customization options that give you full control over your generated passwords. You might be able to set the number of characters, the types of characters included, such as capital letters or special characters, and whether you want to use a password or passphrase. Whatever kinds of passwords you want to use, you can create them instantly and save them to your password manager account.

Password sharing

If you don’t have a secure password manager, sharing passwords safely can be surprisingly complicated. Channels like email and short message service (SMS) aren’t great for sending sensitive information; writing passwords down on paper is never a good idea.

Even after sharing your password with someone, you still have to send them another update every time you change that password in the future. Furthermore, you won’t be able to stop them from copying and pasting your password and sending it to anyone else they want.

Password managers streamline the process of sharing passwords without sacrificing security. While each provider’s approach differs, every major password manager encrypts data in transit so that any third parties can’t intercept it.

If you want to share account passwords with family members, you can also find subscriptions that usually support five or six users. Shared family vaults are an easy way to manage shared accounts without having to text or email passwords back and forth.

Additionally, most password managers give you options for sharing information. For example, you could enable the recipient to use the password through autofill without letting them see the password text or share it with anyone else. Overall, password sharing is one of the main advantages of dedicated password managers compared to other solutions.

Remembering passwords

One of the main reasons to use a password manager is not having to remember your passwords anymore. Instead, you’ll just have to remember a single master password that controls access to the individual passwords for each account.

Without a password manager, people often rely on a single, memorable password for some or even all of their accounts. Unfortunately, this approach makes your accounts extremely vulnerable to common hacking strategies.

If any websites or apps you use are breached, the difference between a strong password and a weak one is a matter of time. Once a bad actor gets one of your passwords, there’s a good chance they’ll also see if it works on other sites.

Even if your one password is extremely resistant to hacking attempts, no single password can offer as much protection as a set of unique passwords. Adding variations, such as numbers or special characters to the end of your usual password, won’t do much to protect your accounts.

By generating, storing, and syncing passwords, password managers remove the need for people to memorize each of their passwords. This makes account access both more secure and more convenient for the user.

Now, you’re ready to look for the right password manager to fit your lifestyle. With free and low-cost plans from many providers, you don’t have to spend much or any money to stay on top of your passwords. Check out our list of the best free password managers for more information.


Frequently Asked Questions About Password Managers

  • Can you trust password managers?

    Password managers won’t fix all your cybersecurity concerns overnight, but the top platforms come from trustworthy providers that take the necessary precautions to protect your information. All major password managers encrypt user data — while most use industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption, a few rely on alternative encryption methods either instead of or with AES 256-bit.

    Additionally, most top password managers come with convenient features for password sharing. It’s much safer to share your passwords through a dedicated password manager than through an unsecured channel, such as email or SMS.

  • Are free password managers safe?

    A free password manager might sound too good to be true, but many solid providers have free subscription options in 2023. While free tools come with limited features compared to paid plans, that doesn’t mean they aren’t safe or reliable.

  • Which type of password manager is the most secure?

    Password managers usually store your information in the cloud, which makes it easy to keep consistent on multiple devices. Some providers also allow you to store your passwords on a local device without putting them on the internet.

    If your goal is to optimize your cybersecurity completely, it’s impossible to beat the safety of a local hard drive. Even if someone figured out your username and password, they would need to steal the physical device to extract any information.

    However, this isn’t to say that cloud-based password managers are unsafe. If you use a strong master password and secure your account with 2FA, the risk of someone compromising your account is extremely low. But a hack from a remote device is only possible if you store information in the cloud.

  • Are there any alternatives to password managers?

    If you don’t have any trouble creating and remembering unique, strong passwords for every online account, then there’s no reason to use a password manager. But this is an impossible task for most people, and there’s no alternative to a secure password manager when it comes to generating strong passwords and keeping track of them across different devices.


About The Password Manager, Gunnar Kallstrom:

Kallstrom, The Password Manager, is a Cyber Team Lead for a Department of Defense (DOD) contracting company in Huntsville, Alabama, and has 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).