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LastPass vs. 1Password: How to choose between two great password managers

You should be using a password manager. But which one?
man hands holding mobile phone and entering password message on laptop.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Passwords are a fact of life, and if you're one of those people who reuses the same couple of passwords because that's all you can remember, then you really need to think seriously about a password manager.

But in a world where there are countless options, which one is the right one for you?

Here I'm going to look at two of the most popular options -- LastPass and 1Password -- and examine the pros and cons of each.

But before I go on, what is a password manager?

A password manager is an app, or a combination of online services and apps that safely and securely store your passwords -- it also securely distributes them to all of your devices.

Because password managers are storing your passwords, it's important to choose a trustworthy, reliable, and secure service. This is not a job you want to entrust to any old no-name company.

Also: How to protect and secure your password manager

I've used both LastPass and 1Password extensively, and I've found them both to be very capable password managers. And while on the surface they seem quite similar, there are some key differences between the two that might influence which one you choose.

Overview


LastPass

1Password

Core features

  • Settings options allow all sorts of customizations via the web interface

  • Limited "free" option

  • Uses browser extensions on most desktop platforms

  • LastPass offers three "single-user and families" plans, along with separate plans for business users

  • Easy to set up and very easy to move to another device

  • Custom apps for all platforms

  • Extra protection for "secret key"

  • 1Password offers two plans for home users, along with separate plans for teams and businesses


Plans

Free: $0

  • Unlimited passwords

  • Access on one device type -- computer or mobile

  • 30-day Premium trial

  • Save and autofill passwords

  • One-to-one sharing

  • Multi-factor Authentication

  • Password generator

Premium: $3 per month

  • Includes all Free features

  • Access on all devices

  • One-to-many sharing

  • 1GB encrypted file storage

  • Security dashboard

  • Dark web monitoring

  • Emergency access

  • Priority tech support

Families: $4 per month

  • Includes all Premium features

  • 6 individual, encrypted vaults

  • Family manager dashboard to manage users and security

  • Group and share items in folders

  • Individually encrypted storages

  • Personal security dashboards and notifications

Individual: $2.99 per month

  • Apps for Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and Chrome OS

  • Unlimited passwords, items, and 1GB document storage

  • 24/7 email support

  • 365-day item history to restore deleted passwords

  • Travel Mode to safely cross borders

  • Two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection

  • Share your sensitive information securely with anyone

Families: $4.99 per month

  • All the 1Password features, plus:

  • Invite up to 5 guests for limited sharing

  • Add more users for $1 a month

  • Share passwords, credit cards, secure notes, and more

  • Manage what family members can see and do

  • Recover accounts for locked out family members

Encryption

256-bit AES encryption with PBKDF2 SHA-256 for master passwords

256-bit AES encryption with PBKDF2 password hashing for the master password, with additional 28-bit secret key backup for master password

Multi-factor authentication support

Yes

Yes

Biometric support

Yes

Yes


You should go with LastPass if...

1. You want a free option.

There's a limited free version of LastPass that allows it to be used on one device type -- either computers or mobile devices. If you don't want to access your passwords across both devices then the free option will work for you.

Also: Why everyone should have this cheap security tool

2. You prefer to work within the browser.

LastPass uses browser extensions on desktop platforms, so there's no app to download. This works well for people who are comfortable working within the browser, which, to be fair, is where most passwords are used and needed.

3. You like to deep-dive into the settings.

LastPass offers access to a myriad of settings and customizations from the web interface. You can set LastPass to do things such as restrict login to the account to selected countries and force devices to logout. 

If you like taking a having lots of settings to tweak, this is the service for you

You should go with 1Password if...

  1. You want apps.

If you want to access your passwords via an app on desktop systems rather than through the browser then 1Password is the platform for you because it offers standalone apps for Windows, Mac, ChromeOS and Linux.

2. You have a big family.

The family plan allows five people to use the service, but you can add more for $1 a month. This is a great deal, and I've not seen another company offer anything similar.

3. You want a great support community.

While 1Password offers a broad range of support options, the one feature that this company has that elevates it over LastPass is an active and supportive community forum. In my experience, users will get a solution to most problems here even quicker than going through the support channels, which are themselves quite fast.

4. You travel and want to secure your information.

If you're concerned about crossing borders with sensitive data on your devices, 1Password allows you to remove sensitive data  prior to you crossing the border, and then you can later restore the data with a click.

Alternatives to consider

Here are a few alternatives worth taking a look at.

Editorial standards

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