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Bitwarden review: Free password manager with few restrictions

Most free password managers are solely unencumber to some extent. Typically, they limit the variety of passwords that may be saved or gadgets that may be synced without cost customers. Bitwarden bucks that development, letting you save limitless vault objects and sync your vault throughout all of your gadgets with out spending a penny. There’s additionally a paid model that features further, however not trivial safety features, which prices solely $10 a 12 months. There are some tradeoffs for that affordability—Bitdwarden isn’t as polished or turnkey as a few of its extra well-known rivals, and we bumped into some points utilizing its browser extension. But, general, it’s a superb possibility for customers on a price range, and the best option among free password managers.

Note: Learn extra about all of the password managers we’ve examined, together with the most well-liked paid choices, in our best password managers roundup. 

Setting up Bitwarden

To begin utilizing Bitwarden, you first need to register an account. You’ll be requested to enter your e mail and create a grasp password. This password must be sturdy sufficient to safeguard all of your different passwords however easy sufficient to recollect so that you don’t get locked out of your vault. Bitwarden helps with the primary half by score your grasp password as weak, good, or sturdy as you create it. It not solely seems to be for password size and a superb mixture of letters, numbers, and characters, it should additionally ding you for passwords utilizing simply crackable phrases like “ABC123” even when they meet all of the size and character-mix necessities.

Bitwarden lets you import passwords from greater than 50 different password managers and net browsers together with LastPass, Keeper, 1Password, Dashlane, Firefox, and Chrome. All the out there import choices are offered in a drop-down menu within the Tools part of your vault, and every helpfully lists the kind of file (json, csv, xml, and so on.) you might want to export from that instrument to import into Bitwarden.

bitwarden add item Michael Ansaldo/IDG

Bitwarden can retailer login credentials, bank card numbers, private identification, and safe notes.

You can create and edit password entries utilizing Bitwarden’s net interface, desktop apps, or browser extension. The net and desktop layouts are practically equivalent, along with your vault entries listed within the middle and a menu working down the left sidebar. From the menu, you’ll be able to kind entries by kind—password, card, identification, or safe be aware—or by favorites. At the underside of the menu is an possibility to arrange your entries into folders. Unfortunately, the folder must be created forward of time and every entry added manually—drag-and-drop isn’t supported.

The browser extension simplifies the structure whereas offering many of the identical instruments and options. It lets you filter, kind, and share entries; generate passwords; import objects from different instruments; and extra.

Most of the paid password managers I’ve used stroll you thru the method of putting in the browser extension, creating your first vault entry, including your private info for auto kind filling, and different duties to get the instrument prepared to make use of. Bitwarden doesn’t supply any prompts, which meant I needed to make investments appreciable time first exploring the interface and intuiting do these issues I simply talked about, after which extra time truly doing them. Ultimately, it doesn’t have an effect on the utility of the instrument, however it’s slightly disorienting when you’re used to the pleasant onboarding of managers like Keeper and LastPass.

bitwarden send Michael Ansaldo/IDG

Bitwarden’s Send characteristic permits vault homeowners to securely share textual content and recordsdata with different individuals even they’re not Bitwarden customers.

Capturing and replaying passwords

One of the perks of password managers is their skill to robotically seize your credentials the primary time you log in to a website and replay them every time you come. Bitwarden was inconsistent about this. When it labored, a message field slid out asking if I needed to save lots of the web site credentials I simply entered, and I simply needed to click on a button to substantiate. But typically it didn’t supply to save lots of my credentials in any respect, though these had been frequent business websites that different password managers I’ve used don’t have any issues with.

When Bitwarden does seize your login credentials, it might probably robotically fill them within the subsequent time you come to the positioning. The mechanics are very like every other password supervisor. When Bitwarden acknowledges the positioning, it surfaces the related credentials within the browser extension and login fields, and also you simply click on to enter them. Alternately, you’ll be able to launch a web site from the browser extension by trying to find the suitable entry in your vault and clicking it.

Security options

Saving your login credentials and different essential info in a single place is simply a part of a password supervisor’s job. It additionally must safe them. Bitwarden does this in a couple of methods.

bitwarden password generator Michael Ansaldo/IDG

Bitwarden’s password generator can create passwords as much as 128 characters lengthy out of letters, numbers, and particular characters.

The first is thru two-factor authentication (2FA). By requiring a second type of identification for logins, you dramatically cut back the probability somebody can entry your vault even when they get ahold of your grasp password. Users of Bitwarden’s free model can use 2FA codes from authenticator apps comparable to Google Authenticator and Authy or obtain them by way of e mail. The premium model of Bitwarden helps extra 2FA strategies together with YubiKey, FIDO2 WebAuthn-enabled safety keys, and the Duo safety platform.

Bitwarden additionally lets you share passwords and different info securely with a characteristic referred to as Send. It forwards an encrypted hyperlink to the recipient, who can entry its content material whether or not or not they’re a Bitwarden consumer. Free customers can solely share textual content notes however premium customers can share any kind of file. When you put together to ship a be aware or file, you’ll be able to set expiration and deletion dates, restrict how many individuals can entry it, and require a password. Premium Bitwarden customers may invite emergency contacts to entry their vault underneath particular situations.

Finally, Bitwarden helps guarantee the power of the passwords themselves by way of evaluation and reporting. These instruments search for weak and reused passwords in addition to these uncovered in a breach. They additionally uncover any URLs in your vault that don’t use TLS/SSL encryption, any passwords that help 2FA however aren’t at the moment utilizing it, and any private knowledge that’s turned up in an information breach. To see what Bitwarden has turned up in your vault, you simply go to the Tools menu and choose one of many six studies: Exposed Passwords, Reused Passwords, Weak Passwords, Unsecured Websites, Inactive 2FA, and Data Breach. All of those, aside from the final, are reserved for paid customers and all can solely be accessed from the net interface.

Verdict

Bitwarden isn’t essentially the most user-friendly password supervisor. It requires appreciable time and guide effort upfront to set it up, notably because it has hassle capturing and filling credentials constantly. But its beneficiant free plan will make it an interesting possibility for lots of customers. Its premium plan can be budget-friendly, however when you’re keen to open your pockets you’ll get extra superior options and a greater expertise spending slightly extra on a paid password supervisor like LastPass, Dashlane, or Keeper.

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