Is It Safe To Use A Free Password Manager? Let’s Find Out!

If you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product. Or, at least, that is what they say. It’s this slogan that makes people question password vaults and password managers that come free.

It’s a fair criticism, but it’s missing many contexts that matter when it comes to password vaults.

Why Do We Have Password Vaults That Have Free Options?

The way many businesses make more money is through advertising, and it can come in many forms, some not so obvious. One way to advertise is to give something away. It’s easier to upsell someone already using your product and giving away products spread faster and often cheaper than running normal ad campaigns.

And people and businesses have passwords, and most often they have a lot of them. This means they need some type of password vault, especially when it comes to sharing passwords. Thus, we have free password vaults, it’s advertising!

It’s All About Advertising The Password Vault

When you look at password vaults, you’ll notice that many have a free version and a paid version. The paid version will always have more features. How do you get people to pay for the paid password vault version? Simple, by giving away a password vault that is safe!

The main goal for this is to act as advertising; it’s to get the user “in the door”, storing their passwords and making themselves at home. Once you’ve used the product and gotten used to the free option, you’re more likely to stay and even upgrade your password vault. Plus, you’ve already organized your passwords, so you’re kind of sticky and not often wanting to go other places.

Not only that, but you’re more likely to recommend that password vault to others. And these other people can be businesses or people who work for those businesses. As covered, even businesses have a password or two, and they often need to share it securely within the company. The password vault companies that offer free versions will be merely the cost to advertise for them. The more free password vault users they can get to use their product, the more customers they get who need the paid or business plans. And it’s those business plans that will be the real money maker in the password vault industry.

Business Plans Is Where The Real Money Is At

When it comes to password vault companies, they want business customers. Business customers spend more and rarely switch due to the headache of moving all their many employees’ to a new password vault. The bigger the business they attract, the more they spend, and the more likely they’ll stay.

There is no better salesman for a password vault app than a guy who’s been using it for his personal life and knows it inside and out. When it’s time for a password vault solution for the business, he will recommend what he knows, and if the password manager company can get him hooked from the start and storing a password or two, then it is worth the cost.

A safe and free option is just the cost of doing business for some password vaults. But does this mean the password vault company only cares about businesses?

They Only Care About The Business Customers?

If all the money is in the business customers, does that mean the password vault company only cares about them? Let’s be clear, the real money for password vaults is getting the business customers who have a password storage problem. The individual accounts don’t hold a candle to the money business accounts generate.

But… the business accounts tend to be built on these accounts.

We’ve seen many password vaults do their no-cost customers wrong in the past, and it never works out well for them. The problem with pissing them off is that there are more of them, and bad news travels fast in the field of password vaults.

You must not forget the business users are normal users at home. If the password vault they use for work sucks for personal use, it could be the domino that starts the trend for the business itself to ultimately switch. After all, the no-cost accounts tend to be the advertising to get you in the door, and someone unhappy with the current product at home is looking for new doors.

The money is in the business accounts, but some password vault companies need to keep the other plans happy to keep from losing their bread and butter. It’s hard to gain new users, but easy to lose them when it comes to password vaults. There are also some outliers, they don’t make money and every one is equal.

The Outliers

There do exist password vaults like KeePass that come entirely free. There is no premium or extra charge; everything is free, just store some passwords. Oddly enough, KeePass and its many variations may even be the safest password vault you can get, even though they’re completely free.

KeePass is an application that is an open-sourced password vault. Like many open-source projects, it’s free to use, even if it’s for businesses, but harder to share a password, though. The great thing about open source projects is that anyone can see the code and offer to make changes to better the projects.

There are free open-source projects that make money; the Bitwarden password vault is one example. While Bitwarden is open-sourced it does generate income with its plans and makes it sustainable. KeePass is not like Bitwarden, as it doesn’t have plans or set out to make money. It’s just a simple place to keep your passwords in a secure place, but you’re responsible for backups and figuring out sharing. How is KeePass even a thing, why do they keep going?

Why Is KeePass A Thing?

The KeePass or KeePassXC don’t have a system to generate money. The reason KeePass can keep going is selfless and selfish at the same time. The people who code for KeePass or KeePassXC also use the software to store their passwords. So it’s in their best interest to make it the best password vault it can be. They also can’t be dishonest, as anyone can view the code since it’s open-source.

Since anyone can view the code, anyone who uses the app can also write code to improve it, make it safer and better their own password vault needs, too. Since the coders need a password vault, and they trust one they help make more, and others can help to better it and confirm the code is safe, you get a self-filling application that comes free.

It’s the perfect storm when it comes to a great password vault, but innovation can be slowed as there is not much fear of competition. The coders can simply leave to the “competition” if something better comes along, so you end up stagnant password vaults like “KeePassX”.

KeePass – It’s Like A Private Road

The KeePass password vaults are like having a shared private road to your home. You and many others need to use that road. The state won’t maintain it, so it’s up to you and your neighbors to keep it going. Tearing up the road won’t help you, and doing something to hurt your neighbor’s section won’t help either, as you both need that road. So when you can, you chip in to better or improve the road.

For software like KeePass, it’s the private road, and your neighbors will be the other people who use it; when you have thousands if not millions of people using it, you’ll get many willing to better the “road” as it also benefits them. If someone damages the road or decides to put a private investigator at the end of the road, you can “fork” the road to go a different direction.

Since it’s open to the public, we can all see the changes being made, and if we don’t like it, we can change where the road goes or better it for our own needs. Throw a few hundred people willing to better it in their spare time, you get something that is not only the best of the best but given away too. This greatly builds trust, but what about other password managers?

Can You Trust Password Managers?

You can trust the top-recommended password vaults. Here is a list of password vaults that I consider acceptable.

  1. Bitwarden
  2. KeePassXC
  3. 1Password
  4. KeePass
  5. Enpass
  6. SafeInCloud
  7. RoboForm
  8. Keeper

I find the people who generally bring up the word “safe” when it comes to password vaults tend to be new to them. It’s hard to convince them as most don’t understand the encryption and security that goes into password vaults.

But I have one tool that convinces most people because it’s so simple.

You pepper your important passwords.

Even if someone got into your password vault, they would not know the full password. Life is too hard not to be using a password vault these days, and peppering gets people over their fears.

Leave a Comment