Hardware password managers are tiny portable devices that work as an offline password vault. They were created with businesses in mind, but nothing prevents personal users from getting one. These devices protect sensitive information behind a master PIN that users set when they use the product for the first time; the devices will lock themselves after several failed attempts to enter the correct PIN. Like password organizer books, they can be a good option for people who don't want to have their passwords in a place that can be hacked, such as a computer, the cloud, or a password manager company’s server.
Recommended Password Storage Devices
RecZone Password Safe
With a rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 on Amazon, RecZone Password Vault is a traditional but reliable offline password safe that supports up to 400 accounts. All the login credentials are protected by a master code the user inputs when setting up the device for the first time. An auto-lock feature bars anyone for 30 minutes after they’ve inserted five consecutive incorrect PINs. The item also has an internal memory that will store the user's information even if the batteries die. It costs $35.15 on Amazon with free shipping.
Although it only holds up to 12 accounts, OnlyKey is a trustworthy and user-friendly password storage device that comes with some neat features. The hardware password manager is PIN protected, fills login credentials automatically with the press of a button, and supports passwords of up to 56 characters as well as multiple methods of two-factor authentication. Better yet, the device works on all operating systems for desktop and mobile. It's possible to get OnlyKey for $46 with free shipping on Amazon, where it's rated 3.9 stars out of 5.
Hideez Key 2
Created by one of the winners of the 2020 cyber security excellence awards, Hideez Key 2 is a futuristic and neat-looking product. The device can be connected to any computer or mobile phone through Bluetooth, and it's so tiny that it can be attached to a keychain. The hardware can store more than 2,000 passwords, locks and unlocks the computer automatically, auto-fills passwords with one click, and can even open electronic doors by using an RFID sensor. What's more, this helpful device also generates one-time passwords, creates encrypted backups, and if it gets stolen users can block the Hideez Key 2 remotely. All this can be had for only $54.06 on Amazon.
Are Offline Password Storage Devices Reliable?
Having a hardware password manager is without a doubt better than writing your passwords on sticky notes.
As with anything however, there are a few downsides when it comes to using this type of product. The first is that it's not the most effective password manager. Most password storage devices don't connect to the computer, which means they don't fill in credentials automatically. Taking into account that all passwords need to be different, lengthy, and contain all types of characters, it's easy to understand the headache it can be to input all of them to the device, and then retype them every time the user needs to log into one of their dozens of accounts.
There's also the problem of theft. Though password storage devices indeed block themselves after the PIN is entered incorrectly several times, that doesn't mean it's impossible to get your information. Anyone with malicious intent can just do an easy Google search to find how to get all your data – which in most cases is in plain text – by tampering with the device, even after it’s been reset by the user. Furthermore, since most hardware password managers don’t offer a backup feature, users would have to reset and create new passwords for all their accounts.
And while a password storage device is better than writing your passwords somewhere that can be easily accessed, they are not the safest method out there. If the main reason you want to avoid a password manager is that you don’t trust a company’s servers with your confidential data, there a few solutions that store everything locally. Nevertheless, considering that the best password managers such as RoboForm, 1Password, and Dashlane encrypt your data with at least military-grade AES-256 encryption, you can be sure that nobody besides you can access your information. Of course, it’s best to go with a company that doesn’t store the users’ master password on their servers to ensure your information can’t be breached if a server gets hacked.
Best Password Managers of 2020
|Editor's Choice 2020|