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Although there are a variety of dedicated password management tools 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You 5 Password Management Tools Compared: Find the One That's Perfect for You Choosing some sort of password management strategy to deal with the huge amount of passwords we need is crucial. If you're like most people, you probably store your passwords in your brain. To remember them... Read More , every modern browser has its own built-in password manager. But just how good are the built-in password managers? We’ll look at how each popular browser’s password manager compares when it comes to convenience, security, sync features, and supported devices and operating systems.

Dedicated password managers still have some advantages, so we’ll cover how you can get a better password manager no matter which browser you’re already using. You don’t have to switch browsers to get the best password managers — they’re available to users of every browser.

Mozilla Firefox

How It Works: When you enter a password on a website, Firefox will ask if you want it to remember your password. If you choose to save your password, it will save the password on your computer. When you visit the website again, Firefox will automatically fill in your saved password. You can also view your saved passwords from Firefox’s options window.

Convenience: Firefox’s password manager is a convenient way to save time if you don’t mind saving your passwords in it. All you have to do is click the Remember Password button when logging into a website and your password will be automatically filled in the future — no need for additional clicks.

Security: Firefox saves these passwords in an insecure form on your computer by default. However, Firefox allows you to enable a “master password” in its options window. Your saved passwords will be encrypted with your master password and you’ll need to enter it before using your password manager. This means people won’t be able to snoop on your passwords by getting access to your computer — assuming you don’t leave Firefox open. There are also extensions that add a timeout, automatically re-locking your password database after a set period of time.

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Sync Features: Firefox can sync your passwords through Firefox Sync. Like other browser data, your passwords are encrypted before syncing so they should be secure. This allows you to have your passwords backed up online and keep them in sync between your different computers.

Supported Devices for Sync: Firefox Sync allows you to sync passwords with Firefox for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Firefox no longer offers the Firefox Home app for iOS, so you can’t access your synced passwords on iPhone, iPad, or even other devices like Windows Phone and BlackBerry. If you want to sync your Firefox passwords to your phone or tablet, you’ll need an Android phone or tablet.

In Summary: Firefox offers the most secure browser password manager because of its master password feature. The password manager is convenient assuming you use Firefox on a PC or Android device, but you can’t access your Firefox passwords on iOS and other mobile operating systems.

Google Chrome

How It Works: Visit a website and enter a password. When you log in, Chrome will offer to save the password in its password manager. If you do opt to save the password, Chrome will automatically enter it the next time you visit the site. You can also view a list of your saved passwords from Chrome’s settings page.

google-chrome-save-password-offer

Convenience: Chrome’s password manager is just as convenient as Firefox’s, offering the same interface — one click to save, no additional clicks to automatically fill login information.

Security: Chrome essentially encrypts your saved passwords with your Windows user account password. Anyone with access to your Windows user account can view your passwords. Firefox offers a master password to encrypt your passwords, but Chrome doesn’t. As long as you use a strong Windows user account password and don’t set your computer to automatically log in, your passwords will remain secure. Google says a master password provides a false sense of security, but it covers more use cases — if you use an obvious Windows password, share a user account, or set your computer to automatically log in, Firefox’s master password would protect you but Chrome wouldn’t. By having Firefox automatically lock the password database after a timeout, you can also limit the amount of time someone would be able to access your passwords.

Sync Features: Chrome can sync your passwords and other browser data with Chrome Sync. Synced passwords are always encrypted on Google’s servers, either with your Google account password or another passphrase of your choosing.

Supported Devices for Sync: Chrome allows you to sync passwords to Chrome browsers on Windows desktop, Windows 8, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS. Chrome offers more sync options, with the most important feature being the Chrome app for iPhone and iPad Google Chrome - A Fantastic Replacement For Mobile Safari [iOS] Google Chrome - A Fantastic Replacement For Mobile Safari [iOS] Do you use Chrome on your computer to browse the web? A lot of people do, as it is one of the most popular web browsers out there. It runs fast, and it offers a... Read More that allows users of Apple’s mobile devices to access their passwords.

In Summary: Chrome offers the widest array of sync options so you can access your passwords almost anywhere. Google disagrees with Mozilla about the necessity of a master password, and if you kept your computer completely secure your Chrome passwords would be okay. For the average user, Firefox’s master password system is probably more secure.

Internet Explorer

How It Works: Enter your password on a website and Internet Explorer will offer to save it. The next time you visit a website, you’ll have to click the username box and select your saved username from a list — Internet Explorer won’t automatically fill in your login information until you do. Internet Explorer also doesn’t allow you to view your saved passwords without using a third-party tool, like IE PassView 6 Free Password Recovery Tools for Windows 6 Free Password Recovery Tools for Windows Read More .

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Convenience: Saving passwords in IE is simple, but IE doesn’t automatically fill your login information. If you do want to view your saved passwords, you need a third-party tool, which is much more inconvenient.

Security: Like Chrome, Internet Explorer essentially encrypts your saved passwords with your Windows user account password. Any program running as the current user account can view your saved passwords, but no one can view your passwords if you’re logged out — not unless they can figure out your Windows password. As IE is using the same encryption method as Chrome, Firefox will likely be more secure for the average person with its master password — just as it’s more secure than Chrome.

Sync Features: Windows 8 syncs Internet Explorer passwords and other browser data How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud How To Sync Your Windows 8 Settings Via The Cloud Logging into your Windows 8 computers with a Microsoft account enables access to the Windows Store and other Modern apps, but it's also used to sync Windows 8 settings with the Cloud. Your settings will... Read More . Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows can’t sync IE passwords.

Supported Devices for Sync: Your Internet Explorer passwords are synced between PCs running Windows 8. They’re not accessible on previous versions of Windows or even Windows Phone devices. They’re obviously not accessible on devices running competing operating systems.

In Summary: Internet Explorer has the worst password manager, with the most inconvenient password-filling method, no built-in way of viewing saved passwords, and no way to sync your saved passwords except between Windows 8 PCs. If you use IE anyway and just want something to save you time, it’s better than nothing — but we don’t recommend using IE’s password sync features.

Which is the Best?

So which one should you choose? Well, that depends on what’s important to you and which browser you already use:

  • If You’re Particularly Worried About Securing Your Passwords: Use Firefox’s built-in password manager. In practice, it will be more secure against malware and protect you from other people snooping around while using your computer if you share a Windows user account.
  • If You Want to Sync With Your iPhone or iPad: Use Chrome’s password manager, which is good enough if you use a secure Windows password and proper security practices.
  • If You Just Want to Save Time and Already Have a Preferred Browser: Use whatever password manager is built into your web browser to save passwords and save yourself time in the future. You may want to avoid saving important passwords like your online banking passwords if you use Firefox or IE and other people use your computer with the same user account.

To simplify things, Chrome is the winner when it comes to syncing between different devices while Firefox is the winner when it comes to securing your passwords in the real world.

However, the best password managers of all aren’t built into browsers. Browser password managers are okay for saving time, but they’re not the ideal solution if you want a single program to securely manage all your passwords.

A dedicated password manager like LastPass or KeePass can automatically generate random passwords LastPass for Firefox: The Ideal Password Management System LastPass for Firefox: The Ideal Password Management System If you've not yet decided to use a password manager for your myriad logins online, it's time you took a look at one of the best options around: LastPass. Many people are cautious about using... Read More for you, save passwords and secure notes KeePass Password Safe – The Ultimate Encrypted Password System [Windows, Portable] KeePass Password Safe – The Ultimate Encrypted Password System [Windows, Portable] Securely store your passwords. Complete with encryption and a decent password generator – not to mention plugins for Chrome and Firefox – KeePass just might be the best password management system out there. If you... Read More for things that aren’t website logins, and sync to a wide variety of different devices.  They can incorporate advanced features like the LastPass security challenge New LastPass Feature Notifies You When An Account You Own Is Breached [Updates] New LastPass Feature Notifies You When An Account You Own Is Breached [Updates] A new feature from LastPass will follow a database of breached accounts, and notify you immediately if your account on any website has been broken into. The new feature, called LastPass Sentry, is built on... Read More , which scans your passwords and lets you know which ones are reused or too insecure, recommending which ones to change for maximum security. They also allow you to lock your passwords with a Firefox-like master password, but you could also further secure them with two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More .

If you want to go all-in and use a password manager to simplify your life Use A Password Management Strategy To Simplify Your Life Use A Password Management Strategy To Simplify Your Life Much of the advice around passwords has been near-impossible to follow: use a strong password containing numbers, letters and special characters; change it regularly; come up with a completely unique password for each account etc.... Read More , you’re better off going with a dedicated password manager like LastPass or KeePass. As another benefit, they aren’t linked to a single browser, so you could use the same passwords in Safari on Mac, Internet Explorer on Windows, Chrome on Linux, and access them in dedicated apps for a variety of platforms from Android and iOS to Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Read our password management guide for a thorough introduction.

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Which password manager do you use? Do you use a browser’s built-in password manager? Leave a comment and let us know!

  1. Techie007
    March 11, 2016 at 7:08 am

    This article states that Chrome "encrypts your saved passwords with your Windows account password." This is completely false. Chrome's saved passwords are readily available to anyone who can get their hands on the password database file. I've retrieved Chrome passwords from locked out computers and even from reset Windows login accounts many a time. THERE'S NO SECURITY HERE! Chrome's saved passwords might as well be unencrypted. Yes, it's 2016 and I can do it now, today, with the latest version of Chrome.
    I haven't tested Internet Explorer, but the statement about its encryption is most likely true as I know how this operates in Windows. Resetting a Windows account password clears the Windows credential manager for that account, so I expect that Internet Explorer would forget all its saved passwords in this situation.
    Mozilla Firefox stands out far from the rest as being the most secure—but only if you set a master password. However, the list of sites and passwords and their first and last access dates are readily readable. Just the passwords are encrypted. I guess it's understandable as Firefox only asks for the master password when visiting a site requesting login information for a stored password. The ramification of this is that a hacker would know exactly how valuable your password database is. But still, this is way over anything that Internet Explorer or gasp...Chrome offer.

  2. nirav
    August 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    If we consider security then all browser`s password manager are same; because they saved it in AppData ;so after compromised of system we can collect it remotely & they also donot encrypt it so it`s plain text.there are ready script & software available.

  3. Kevin de Vries
    August 13, 2013 at 4:40 am

    I use RoboForm. Have done so for years.

  4. Samit T
    August 11, 2013 at 1:55 am

    You can view the save passwords of IE10 in windows 8 by going to control panel->user accounts and family safety-> credential manager-> web credentials....you can view the password of all the websites by using windows login password..... did you even check that???

    by the way I think lastpass is the best password manager out there , a lot better than the password manager of all the browsers.....plus point it supports all the browser even Maxthon..

  5. Thu Y
    August 10, 2013 at 10:20 am

    using lastpass that makeuseof rewards. me. :D

  6. wrongo
    August 10, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Internet Explorer 10 lets you view passwords after entering your account password. How did you miss the "show password" buttons? Do you actually research these stories, or just make up shit as you go?.

  7. Olga S
    August 10, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Chrome password manager. Only on my own PC, of course.

  8. Andy L
    August 10, 2013 at 4:15 am

    I use keepass because I do not trust any one cloud sync software to save all my passwords properly. With Keepass, at least the passwords are encrypted on my pc first, so even if i want to share it out on cloud services like dropbox or skydrive, I can be sure that at least my passwords are not in plain text if the cloud services ever got hacked...

  9. Francisco
    August 10, 2013 at 1:25 am

    "You may want to avoid saving important passwords like your online banking passwords if you use Firefox or IE and other people use your computer with the same user account"
    hello, i just thought i would add a little grain of sand for the improvement of your great article and mention that i think you might have confussed chrome for firefox in this statement.
    I use lastpass and im very happy with all its options and the security it offers.

  10. albert
    August 9, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    A recent study by NSS Labs revealed that Internet Explorer's default settings protect your privacy better than Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. In fact, Chrome came in last for privacy protection
    http://securitywatch.pcmag.com/privacy/314028-internet-explorer-protects-your-privacy-better-than-chrome-really

  11. Joshua Wiedekopf
    August 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    KeePass 2 with KeeFox and the database in my dropbox, synced to my mobile via DropSync and KeePass2Android. :D

  12. Jeff
    August 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    LastPass with a YubiKey for the win!

  13. HildyJ
    August 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    One other thing to note about Firefox. Even if you leave your browser open someone else may be able to use your passwords but they still can't view them without reentering the master password.

  14. likefunbutnot
    August 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I'm glad you mentioned Lastpass as an alternative to all of the above.
    Something like Roboform should be mentioned as well. Roboform is a cross-platform app that can store passwords for anything, browser-related or not, with online sync between multiple computers. I've found that to be EXCEPTIONALLY useful for older, less tech-savvy people since I can teach them to let Roboform auto-generate a strong password on a per-site basis that it will then auto-fill for them, something that's far, far better than letting somebody use the same password for everything that can possibly show them a password prompt.

  15. Ion P
    August 9, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    SRWare Iron with its own password manager.

  16. ReadandShare
    August 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I am not particularly paranoid. A browser password manager with a master password (e.g. Firefox) would suffice for my needs. My big complaint against all browser password managers is their inability to remember/populate all websites.

    And thus, I use LastPass. And if I have to use LastPass for many, many websites (because the browser password manager can't or won't remember them) -- then why even bother with a browser password manager at all?

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