Everyone loves free open source software and although open source software doesn’t guarantee quality it does mean that it can be rigorously tested by anyone to find flaws. We’ll be comparing two of the most popular open source password managers on offer, first we have KeePass, one of the originators of password management software against a relative newcomer in Bitwarden, which is rapidly growing in popularity since its launch in 2016. Although both are open source, they are in fact have little common and they show just how flexible password managers are.
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Appearances can be deceiving and that’s definitely true in the case of KeePass. Although KeePass looks like it hasn’t been touched since its initial release in 2003, it is in fact updated regularly. KeePass has spawned an army of imitators, but the original is still the password manager of choice for many security-minded users who don’t like the idea of their data being stored on a cloud. KeePass encrypts your passwords using AES-256 and all data is stored locally offline which means you never have to worry about a data breach exposing your sensitive credentials. KeePass has the unique autotype function designed to prevent keyloggers from discovering your passwords. Autotype lets users input a keystroke sequence for every login so you’re able to input all of your details at the press of a button.
Since KeePass is so stripped down and focuses on the essentials, users rely on plugins and extensions to add features that are more commonly found on other password managers. These plugins range from adding extra system compatibility (ensuring KeePass is now available for virtually operational system you can think of) as well as functions like adding cloud support, database backups, and further encryption methods. There is no direct customer support for KeePass since it’s an individual project but there are plenty of user guides and an active forum. KeePass is completely free so need to take your card out.
Unlike its rivals KeePass, Bitwarden has a modern and intuitive interface that even the least technology-orientated will have no problem mastering. While KeePass stores all credentials offline, Bitwarden encrypts your data locally before storing them on Microsoft’s Azure servers. There should be no concerns about your data though, everything stored on the cloud has already been protected with military-grade encryption before it was uploaded. Having data stored on servers means Bitwarden allows data sync over an unlimited number of devices, which is great when you consider that Bitwarden is available for all major platforms as well as vast array of web browsers. The browser extensions are able to enter any credentials at the click of a button and it’s easy to swap between multiple accounts on the same website.
Like KeePass, Bitwarden is a very small enterprise but customer service is surprisingly good. You can contact them directly through email and Twitter and get a swift response. The Bitwarden website features a customer forum and a large number of guides. Although Bitwarden is free there is a very cheap premium version at just $10 a year, which grants access to further two-step authentication, password reports, 1GB storage, and priority customer service.
Despite the fact that KeePass and Bitwarden are both free open source software, they could not be more different in their execution. In that sense, it’s like comparing apples and oranges.
KeePass is the more secure password manager since nothing is stored on a server but Bitwarden is still incredibly safe. KeePass is the most customizable with so many plugins and extensions, but it does also require a large amount of technical knowledge from the user. Which is where Bitwarden differs greatly, with a simple, clean interface that won’t daunt any newcomers to password management. No matter which password manager you choose you’ll still have a reliable solution without losing any cash.