One of the most important factors when evaluating password managers is ease of use. If a password manager is not easy to configure and populate, the potential exists for mistakes to be made in its set up. Similarly, if end users find using the password manager complicated, they will circumnavigate its controls with the potential consequences of using weak, re-used, or compromised passwords.
This comparison of 1Password, LastPass, and Bitwarden password managers focuses on ease of use for business users. However, individuals looking for a password manager for personal use may also find this comparison interesting as it highlights some considerations not often found in commercial passwords reviews.
Getting Started with 1Password, LastPass, and Bitwarden
All three vendors offer a choice of ways to get started with their respective password managers. You can take advantage of a free personal account and then upgrade to a business account when you are ready, sign up for a free business trial, or – if you are a large enterprise with thousands of potential users – contact the vendors directly and they will turn cartwheels to accommodate you.
Excluding the enterprise option, the free business trial is better than the free personal account because with a free business trial you get access to a more complete feature set, can test the password manager across a multi-user database, and you will get VIP support. However, be careful which free trial you sign up for because there is a wide range available:
- 1Password offers a Teams Starter Pack free trial for up to ten users for fourteen days. If you decide to continue with the service after the free trial, the price is $19.95 monthly.
- 1Password also offers a Business free trial for an unlimited number of users for fourteen days. If you decide to continue with this service, the price is $7.99 per user per month.
- LastPass offers a feature-limited Teams free trial for up to fifty users for fourteen days. Thereafter the price is $4.00 per user per month, plus the cost of any additional features.
- LastPass´ business trial is a fully-featured trial for an unlimited number of users for fourteen days. The price thereafter is $6.00 per user per month billed annually.
- Bitwarden´s Teams free trial is feature-limited, but it is for an unlimited number of users for seven days. Thereafter the price is $3.00 per user per month billed annually.
- Bitwarden´s Business free trial is also for an unlimited number of users for seven days but includes a full feature set. The price thereafter is $5.00 per user per month.
Conclusion: In the context of being able to experience ease of use, the longer free business trials offered by 1Password and LastPass could be beneficial. However, it shouldn´t take any more than a couple of hours to configure and populate a password manager, so Bitwarden´s seven day trial should be sufficient for most businesses – notwithstanding Bitwarden´s price advantage.
Configuring and Populating the Password Managers
Once you have selected a free trial option, you have to first register with the vendor via their website. 1Password and LastPass will automatically send you an email asking you to verify your email address and inviting you to create an account. With Bitwarden, you create an account during the registration process and then log into the Bitwarden web “vault” to request a verification email.
Once your account is up and running, it is better to use the online vault facility to configure and populate the password manager because tasks such as administering shared “groups” (1Password), “teams” (LastPass), or “organizations” (Bitwarden) are not possible through the apps or browser extensions. Similarly, you need to use the online vault facility to enable two-factor authentication.
Configuring permissions and applying default policies (such as vault timeouts, password strength policies, and Single Sign On authentication) is best done before populating the password manager´s database. These are fairly straightforward procedures for experienced Admins, but less experienced Admins will find Bitwarden´s Help pages more navigable and the instructions more logical.
To populate the database, all three password managers can be synced with existing databases (Azure AD, Okta, LDAP, Google Workspaces, etc.). 1Password and LastPass require Admins to create a SCIM bridge (system for cross-domain identity management) for populating and synchronizing their respective password managers. Bitwarden has an easy-to-use Directory Connector feature.
Conclusion: If you are familiar with creating SCIM bridges for inter-database synchronization and management, you will probably be happier with the options offered by 1Password and LastPass. If not, Bitwarden wins hands down for ease of use when it comes to configuring permissions, applying default policies, and populating its password manager.
Onboarding Users and the User Experience
Even though you have populated the password manager, it is still necessary to onboard users by inviting each to create an account. The reason for each user having to create a separate account is that the master password used in the account creation process acts as the encryption key for data stored in password vaults, and each encryption key has to be unique.
All three password managers onboard users in a similar way. LastPass and Bitwarden require you to email users from the Admin web console with an invitation to create an account. Users have to accept the invitation and create an account, and then Admins have to accept the user through the Admin console before users have access to the corporate vault and any data stored within it.
In addition to the email onboarding process, 1PassWord offers the options of sending a sign-up link either by a group chat tool or via Slack. While the secondary options may be more convenient and enable larger organizations to onboard more users quicker, there is no audit trail to see who has not received an invitation – or, importantly, received an invitation but declined to create an account.
The account creation process for users is exactly the same as it is for Admins; and, once users have set up their accounts, they can go ahead and download whichever apps make the password manager more accessible. All three vendors offer desktops apps, mobile apps, and browser extensions. Bitwarden appears to support more browsers than 1Password or LastPass.
With regards to the user experience, the only difference most users will notice is that they have to log into the password manager at the start of each session and when they have been automatically logged out due to a period of inactivity. If they are also using the password manager for safeguarding personal passwords, profiles, and credit cards, 1Password´s GUI is more user-friendly.
Conclusion: All three vendors have pros and cons in this section. The lack of an invitation audit trail is 1PassWord´s Achilles Heel, but the user experience is probably better. 1Password and LastPass also provide a free family account for all employees covered by their business plans, while Bitwarden combines personal and organizational vaults into one for convenience.
So, Which Password Manager is Easier to Use?
Determining which password manager is easier to use can depend on Admins´ and users´ previous experiences with password managers. Certainly, Admins who are familiar with enterprise-scale directory services may prefer the configuration and population capabilities of 1Password and LastPass, but Bitwarden´s organizational structure provides more granularity. Furthermore, as noted above, Bitwarden´s Help pages are more navigable and the instructions more logical.
From a user´s perspective, many will already be familiar with browser password managers and Bitwarden appears to support more browser extensions than its competitors. One further point is that Bitwarden users will appreciate being able to access corporate and personal credentials from the same vault, while accessing personal data in 1Password and Last Pass may involve signing out of one password manager account and into another.
Consequently, our choice of password manager based on ease of use is Bitwarden. If you would like to experience the ease of use for yourself, visit Bitwarden.com today and sign up for a free business trial.