Let’s be real, there is no shortage of password managers on the market. Some are paid while others are free. Bitwarden is mostly free with some bonus features as an affordable premium option. As a person that was always hesitant to start using a password manager, let’s look at why I took the plunge and now rely on it for all my passwords, credit cards, and secure notes.
Background Info on Bitwarden
Bitwarden was originally released as a mobile application for iOS and Android in 2016 with extensions for web browsers soon following. It has since expanded to be available for most platforms out there.
It is open source meaning the code is out there for people to inspect and I would like to point out that Bitwarden has undergone a third party security audit to verify that it is secure. More information can be found here.
Pros and Cons for Bitwarden
There are other password managers that are more well-known such as 1password, Lastpass, Dashlane, and more. What makes Bitwarden worth the attention?
You don’t need to pay a monthly or yearly fee to use Bitwarden as your password manager. There are some minor bonus features such as more user account sharing, detailed security reports, file storage, and more. However, you can use the standard account free of charge and never feel the need to upgrade. Even if you do decide to go premium, it’s an affordable price (as of this writing) of $10 a YEAR. That’s a great deal compared to some of the other companies out there.
Cloud hosting and self-hosting
For someone like me who uses many different devices to access accounts, being able to bring my passwords with me to every device is a godsend. With Bitwarden on all of my devices and browsers, I never have to be without the ability to log into my accounts.
Paranoid and don’t trust your encrypted data on another server? You can self-host the data yourself and never have your password database touch something out of your control. For those with the time or skill to set this up, that’s great to have. For me personally, I’d rather let Bitwarden’s servers handle storing my encrypted data and syncing.
This is by no means an exclusive feature, but I love being able to quickly sign up for accounts, forums, etc. and not waste time thinking of a throwaway password. With the password generator, I can generate a secure string of characters OR I can change this to passphrases which are more memorable.
You can even change various options such as character length and if you want capital letters, special characters, etc.
Independence from Google and other browsers
Using a third party password manager means your passwords will never be stuck with Google or some other browser. One of the most frustrating things about having my passwords saved in Google Chrome was being restricted to only that.
With Bitwarden, I can use my saved accounts and passwords with any browser or device I choose. This allows me to use other browsers such as Opera and Brave on my computer while still having them available system wide on my phone.
Importing is not easy for non-techies
If you are like me, you probably had your saved passwords stored in Google account or something similar. Bitwarden’s website has tutorials for helping users import their passwords from whatever manager or browser they were using. It’s not exactly an easy process for non-techies, though.
It doesn’t always catch when you sign in
On some websites, the extension simply fails to ask you if you want to save the login information. I can’t say if it’s any better with other password managers, but I have a feeling that the mainstream paid ones probably do a better job. With Bitwarden I usually go to a site, click the BW icon and manually add my information right there in the window. For anyone worrying about having to input the URL themselves, don’t worry. When you push the “add item” button, it automatically starts a new entry with the current base URL on the site you are on. However, I know for some people this is not acceptable if they are not prompted after logging into a site for it to remember.
Final Thoughts on Bitwarden
What brought me to start using a third party password manager was the lack of a password sync feature in Brave browser and not being able to take my saved logins with me everywhere. I also experienced my Netflix account getting hijacked this year due to reusing a simple password. Had I been using Bitwarden with a generated password, I would have been safe.
Bitwarden is available for just about everything and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to start using a password manager. One of the things that really helped was watching a quick demonstration video on YouTube on how to use it with remembering logins and creating new accounts on sites.