Best Password Manager: LastPass
LastPass' secure password generator creates a 12-character- strong password by default. You can make it up to 100 characters for even more security.
CREDIT: Michael Gowan/LastPass
There's a reason "password" is the most common password. It's a whole lot easier to remember than a strong one like "3DYjGJwuXJok."
If you want to keep your personal information safe with strong passwords, you'll need a password management tool to remember them for you. These apps and services store all your logins, which you can access and activate by entering a single master password.
LastPass, a free service for desktop browsers, meets the most common needs: It creates and saves unique passwords and offers the flexibility to use the passwords across browsers and computers. And you can add mobile access for $12 a year.
Why we like it
LastPass works on most computers, including Windows, Mac OS and Linux machines, as well as mobiles, including Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices.
On a computer, you access your passwords through the LastPass add-on, which is available for all major browsers.
When you need to create a new login, LastPass offers a password generator. Because LastPass stores the password for you, you're free to use strong passwords that include letters, numbers and special characters that you'd never remember on your own, such as "gr75bS1QRXoQ or 73VSnFayjV2U." The strong password generator alone makes LastPass worth installing — the best way to protect your personal information is to use a unique password for each account you create.
Keep in mind
LastPass stores your passwords on its servers so you can access it from any Internet-connected device. While storing your personal information in the cloud may seem risky (LastPass reported a potential breach in 2011), the security of using complex unique passwords could outweigh the chance of an online breach.
If you sign up for the premium service, you can use the LastPass app to access your passwords from your mobile device. The mobile experience on iOS leaves much to be desired because Apple won't allow integration into the Safari browser, so you have to launch the separate LastPass app, with its own Web browser, when you want to login. The company is working with makers of third-party iOS browsers, such as Dolphin and Chrome, to integrate into them as it does with desktop browsers.
Premium users on Windows also get access to an application password manager that fills in of all the passwords needed for apps that aren't accessed through a browser, like Skype or the iTunes Store.
To protect yourself online, you need a way to create different strong passwords for each site where you have an account, and you need a way to keep track of all those gibberish letters and numbers. With no cost for the desktop version, you have nothing to lose with LastPass. And the premium service may be worth the $1 a month if only to have access everywhere to all those passwords.