Bitwarden Review: Quick Expert Summary
Bitwarden is a secure open-source password manager that has two plans: A free version and a paid version — both of which come with many extra features and cost less than many competing brands.
I tested all of Bitwarden’s features for security and usability, and it performed pretty well. Bitwarden has all of the security tools that I expect from a premium password manager, including:
- Strong encryption.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA).
- Password security auditing.
- Password breach monitoring.
- Cloud or local hosting options.
The biggest downside is that Bitwarden isn’t nearly as easy to use as other top password managers:
- Importing passwords from a browser or other password manager is a bit tricky.
- Sharing and syncing password vaults with other users is pretty complicated.
- Auto-save and auto-fill can be clunky.
- The interface isn’t particularly intuitive (unlike other top brands like Dashlane or 1Password).
That said, Bitwarden is a good, low-cost option for tech-savvy users and users on a budget — it’s highly secure, handles basic password management well, has a couple of really useful extras, and is around one-third the cost of most competitors.
|Overall Rank||#9 out of 52 password managers|
|Free Plan||Unlimited passwords, unlimited devices|
|Pricing||Starting at /year|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Operating Systems||Windows, Android, Mac, iOS, Linux|
Bitwarden Full Review
Bitwarden is a basic but highly secure open-source password manager that comes with some great extras. Bitwarden is also one of the cheapest products on the market.
Bitwarden’s main downside is that it’s not as user friendly as most top competitors — a lot of its features are clunky, complicated to use, and unintuitive. However, Bitwarden is a feature-rich password manager that performs its main functions well. Plus, it does come with some cool extras, including local hosting.
Bitwarden offers a range of plans that are all extremely budget-friendly, and it has a pretty good free plan.
Bitwarden Security Features
Bitwarden keeps user data secure with 256-bit AES encryption — the same encryption used by banks and governments around the world — so you can feel secure storing your information on Bitwarden’s cloud servers.
However, if you’re worried about your data being compromised in the cloud, Bitwarden also offers the option for local data storage. This is a good choice for security-conscious users, but Bitwarden’s servers are actually more secure than most users’ local networks, so local storage isn’t something most users need to worry about.
Bitwarden also has a ton of good security features — it includes almost everything I expect in a premium password manager, such as:
- Two-factor authentication (2FA).
- Password generator.
- Password sharing.
- Password auditing and breach monitoring.
Bitwarden is also a zero-knowledge password manager, meaning no one from the company can access or see the data in your Bitwarden vault — you’re the only one who knows your Master Password and the only one who can unlock your Bitwarden vault. Unlike some competitors that have account recovery options, Bitwarden can’t help you restore your account if you forget your Master Password. But this isn’t really a bad thing because it means that your data is 100% secure and no one — not even Bitwarden — can ever gain access to your sensitive information.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of protection to online accounts. When 2FA is enabled for a specific account, you need to provide both your password and a second form of verification while logging into that account. 2FA is important because it prevents others from gaining access to your accounts even if they somehow get a hold of your passwords. Bitwarden provides a few different kinds of 2FA to increase the security of your Bitwarden vault.
- Using an authenticator app like Authy or Google Authenticator.
- Getting one-time codes via email.
- Logging into your account with a fingerprint or face scan.
- Verifying your logins with USB 2FA tools like Duo and YubiKey (Premium only).
Bitwarden Premium also lets users scan saved logins for 2FA compatibility — this is pretty useful, especially because Bitwarden Premium also includes a TOTP (temporary one-time password) authenticator. I had no trouble syncing up Bitwarden with the TOTP 2FA on my PayPal account, enhancing my login strength with a secure password auto-generated every 30 seconds.
Bitwarden’s 2FA options are really good, and I like that the company includes biometric login in the free version — competitors like RoboForm force users to upgrade to a paid plan to get this convenient security feature. I also think it’s great that Bitwarden Premium has its own TOTP authenticator, so you can easily enhance your online logins without having to use a third-party authenticator.
Bitwarden’s password generator is simple and effective — it offers users the ability to generate either random strings of numbers, letters, and symbols, or to create easy-to-remember passphrases like correct-horse-battery-staple.
I like that Bitwarden can generate passwords from 5 to 128 characters long. The default password length is 14, which is ok, but I recommend making your passwords at least a couple of characters longer. I also think it’s cool that you can choose to exclude ambiguous characters from your passwords, although this isn’t too important since you don’t actually have to remember the passwords (still, it’s a nice touch!).
Generating passwords with Bitwarden and copy-pasting them was easy, but I had some trouble getting Bitwarden to save these new logins automatically — during my tests, Bitwarden didn’t auto-save a couple of the passwords I had just generated, so I had to manually copy-paste the new logins into my vault. This wasn’t too time consuming, but when competitors like Dashlane and 1Password auto-save passwords quickly and easily, it’s definitely something I’d like to see Bitwarden do better.
Overall, Bitwarden makes it very simple to create super strong passwords or passphrases. I think it’s great that Bitwarden’s password manager has plenty of customization options, and I especially like that it can generate passwords up to 128 characters long.
Password Sharing — Send
Bitwarden offers a new and really simple “Send” feature for quickly sharing files (up to 100 MB) and text, which can include passwords, notes, or other sensitive information. The Send feature is built into Bitwarden’s web dashboard, browser extension, mobile app, and desktop app.
To use Send, all you have to do is enter the text you want your recipient to see or attach the files you want them to have access to, along with a name for the Send. That text or attachment will then be hosted on Bitwarden’s secure servers at a uniquely generated send.bitwarden.com/ web address, and anyone with the link can access the Send.
Send is really easy to use, and unlike password sharing features from Dashlane and LastPass, my friends could access my Sends without having to make a Bitwarden account. I also really like that I could designate how many users could view a Send, put a time limit on how long each Send was accessible, and even protect my Sends with a password so that my friends would need both the private link and the password to access a Send.
However, Send only provides access to a single, static piece of data. Users that are looking to share and sync whole folders or vaults with other users will need to use Bitwarden’s Organization feature, which is a lot more complicated.
Password Sharing — Organization
To be able to share logins with another user, I first had to create an Organization — which is basically a shared vault. Then, I invited a friend to join my Organization, and I could choose whether my friend could only access the logins or make changes to them. When my friend accepted my invite to join the Organization, I could share unlimited logins with him. To share a login, I just had to go back to my private vault, click on the item I wanted to share, and save it to the Organization.
I liked that I could also use Collections — which are shared folders — to organize my passwords within an Organization. So, if you’re using an Organization to share passwords with your family, you can group the items everyone can access in one Collection and make another Collection for sensitive info you want to share with your partner but not your kids.
The free Organizations feature bundled with Bitwarden gives you 1 limited Organization, and you can share unlimited items with only one other user.
If you’re looking to include more users, you can upgrade to the Families plan, which provides password sharing between up to 6 users and lets you create an unlimited number of Organizations and Collections.
Users looking to share passwords with more than 6 people will need to upgrade to one of Bitwarden’s business plans. Small businesses can opt for the Teams and Enterprise plans, which offer Organizations that can include unlimited Bitwarden users.
While Bitwarden’s Send feature is very intuitive, setting up Organizations and Collections between users is kind of a hassle. Plus, you can only share logins with one user unless you upgrade to the family plan. On the other hand, Bitwarden Families provides password sharing between up to 6 users and is still much cheaper than the competition.
Password Auditing and Breach Monitoring
Bitwarden offers several password auditing tools to keep your vault as secure as possible. These “reports” all offer valuable information to help users analyze different aspects of their password vaults. Here are the different reports included in Bitwarden Premium:
- Exposed passwords. Checks breach databases for any of your saved passwords.
- Reused passwords. Scans your vault for repeated passwords.
- Weak passwords. Flags simple and weak passwords in your vault.
- Unsecured websites. Warns if you have accounts on sites with the insecure HTTP protocol instead of the safer HTTPS protocol.
- Inactive 2FA. Checks your vault for sites that offer 2FA login so you can strengthen your security on those sites.
- Data breach. Checks breach databases for any logins or usernames that could be leaked.
Bitwarden’s password auditing feature is pretty good — it turned up all of the weak and repeated passwords, unsecured sites, inactive 2FA, and breached logins in my testing, so it was easy for me to see which passwords I should change. The only complaint I have is that Bitwarden doesn’t have real-time breach monitoring — competitors like Dashlane and Keeper automatically notify users when their sensitive information shows up on the dark web, whereas Bitwarden only checks when you do a manual search. But if you regularly check on the security of your online accounts, this shouldn’t be a problem. Overall, Bitwarden’s vault health report makes it easy for users to monitor the strength of their logins and change weak or compromised passwords.
Bitwarden Plans and Pricing
Bitwarden is one of my favorite password managers for users on a budget — it offers tons of good features in every single plan, and its paid plans are cheaper than any other premium competitor. These are Bitwarden’s plans:
Bitwarden Free — Good Range of Features
Bitwarden Free offers a lot of good free features:
- Unlimited password storage across unlimited devices.
- Unlimited password sharing with 1 user.
- 2FA compatibility with TOTP authenticators like Authy.
- Biometric login for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 devices.
- Local data storage.
Bitwarden Free is a great plan. It has most of the features a single user needs to keep their passwords protected (but it doesn’t have password strength auditing or encrypted file storage).
Bitwarden Premium — Great Features for a Great Price
Bitwarden Premium is one of the most cost-effective premium password managers on the market. It offers a ton of useful cybersecurity features, and it costs a lot less than the price of most competing products.
Bitwarden Premium includes all of the features mentioned in the Free plan, plus:
- Vault auditing tools.
- Built-in 2FA authenticator.
- USB 2FA with apps like YubiKey and Fido.
- 1 GB encrypted storage.
Bitwarden Free is already really useful, but Bitwarden Premium is cheap enough that it’s worth looking into, especially for users that are looking to increase their security with advanced 2FA, vault auditing, and a built-in authenticator.
One thing I don’t like about Bitwarden Premium is that you can’t share logins with more than one user. Yeah, you can share an unlimited number of passwords with that one user, but it’s the same as Bitwarden Free. Plus, many competitors don’t have such limitations — Dashlane provides unlimited password sharing with unlimited users in the premium plan.
That said, Bitwarden Premium is a great password manager, not to mention that it’s way cheaper than competing brands. And you can try Bitwarden risk-free with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Bitwarden Families — Decent Family Plan
Bitwarden Families includes all of the features in Bitwarden Premium, plus:
- Coverage for up to 6 users.
- Unlimited password sharing between up to 6 users.
- 1 GB storage for shared items.
The Families plan is only slightly more costly than Bitwarden Premium, and it’s the cheapest password manager for families on the market.
Unfortunately, I found the password sharing feature to be pretty unintuitive — the Organizations feature is hard to find in the online dashboard, and it can be hard to sync and share logins. 1Password’s family sharing feature is much simpler, and it also includes a variety of permissions settings for parents and families.
However, more tech-savvy families will definitely appreciate Bitwarden Families — it’s cheap, secure, effective, and there’s a 30-day money back guarantee as well.
Bitwarden Ease of Use and Setup
Bitwarden is pretty easy to download and install, and I had it up and running on both my PC and iPhone in minutes. But keep in mind that I’m a pretty tech-savvy guy.
Importing passwords isn’t as streamlined as it is with other password managers — I had to go through Bitwarden’s Help Center to figure out how to import passwords from my old password manager into the Bitwarden vault. Once I found the instructions, it was easy for me to import a CSV file with my passwords into Bitwarden. But I think it would be much better if Bitwarden provided better guidelines during the installation and migration process.
I also had to revisit the Help Center several times to find out how certain features worked, including password vault sharing. And that’s not all. The password auto-filling can be pretty clunky, and I often found myself wasting my time editing my logins.
Whenever you enter a new login, Bitwarden offers to save that login to your password vault. Each time you want to log into a saved website (that Bitwarden recognizes), you will see a small number “1” in the browser extension. Clicking on the browser extension should reveal the saved login in your vault, and you can simply click that login to auto-fill your password.
This isn’t the worst auto-fill option, but it’s still not as convenient as Dashlane and LastPass, which allow you to simply click an icon in the login field to auto-fill.
Bitwarden’s password replay worked pretty well for me, but I had a few really frustrating experiences with it. I would use the auto-save function to add a new password to my vault, but Bitwarden would fail to remember that site when I returned to it. I had to either manually search for the saved password in the browser extension, or manually edit the saved login so that Bitwarden was able to identify the website.
Competitors like Dashlane and 1Password are able to immediately auto-save and auto-fill logins without all of this hassle. Users looking for a seamless and simple password manager experience should definitely avoid Bitwarden.
However — users who are willing to put a little bit of extra time into customizing their password manager experience will find that Bitwarden provides everything they need to securely save, store, and fill their logins.
Bitwarden Mobile App
Bitwarden’s mobile app is pretty good. I tested it out on my iPhone, and it integrated really well with iOS, including my iPhone’s biometric scanner — I could log into Bitwarden using just a fingerprint. All of my passwords were synced easily between my desktop and my phone, and I had no trouble setting up Bitwarden to auto-fill my passwords.
The mobile app also includes a password generator and TOTP authenticator. The authenticator was a little clunky, though — competitors like RememBear auto-fill your one-time passcode for 2FA-enabled sites, whereas Bitwarden forces users to log into the Bitwarden app, copy the passcode, and paste it back into the browser.
For the most part, Bitwarden’s mobile app is really easy to use. During my tests, it automatically detected password fields and auto-filled logins for my saved sites more easily than the browser extension on my PC, and the biometric login made it really easy for me to access my Bitwarden vault on my iPhone.
Bitwarden Customer Support
Bitwarden’s customer support options are simple but practical. Bitwarden offers responsive email support as well as a robust knowledge base and forum community. I was really impressed with how quickly Bitwarden was able to get back to me — check out the time stamps on our email exchange that occurred after business hours on a Friday!
Most password manager tech departments try to get back to you within 24 hours, and often those hours are limited to business hours on Monday-Friday. Bitwarden got back to me in just over 90 minutes on a weekend.
I was also really impressed with Bitwarden’s knowledge base. Because Bitwarden is open-source, there are a ton of users in the community that add helpful content to the knowledge base. Bitwarden’s staff is also pretty active within the community..
Some of the writing in the FAQs and forums can be a little bit jargon-y, so less tech-savvy users should probably just reach out to the customer support team directly. But knowledgeable tech users will be able to get most of the support they need from Bitwarden’s FAQs and forum community.
I’m a big fan of Bitwarden’s customer support — most competitors take too long to get back to their customers, but Bitwarden responded to all of my inquiries in a timely manner, and the replies were always helpful and accurate.
Is Bitwarden a Good Value in 2021?
Bitwarden is a reliable and secure password manager with a wide variety of useful security features for a really good price. It’s not the most attractive or intuitive product, but it’s definitely got what it takes to keep your logins secure — and it costs a fraction of the price of most competitors.
Bitwarden offers secure encryption — your data is securely protected in your vault and on Bitwarden’s servers with 256-bit AES end-to-end encryption. It’s basically impossible for hackers to steal user data off of Bitwarden’s servers, but if that’s something you’re worried about, Bitwarden also offers advanced users the option to store their data locally.
Users looking for a good free password manager will appreciate Bitwarden’s unlimited password storage on unlimited devices, plus biometric login and TOTP compatibility with apps like Authy. Upgrading to Bitwarden Premium — which is around one-third the price of most competitors — also brings you compatibility with advanced 2FA tools like YubiKey, plus comprehensive password auditing and password breach monitoring to keep your accounts totally secure.
My biggest complaint is with Bitwarden’s user experience, which isn’t as intuitive or easy to use as most competing password managers. The auto-save and auto-fill features are clunky, and it took me several trips to Bitwarden’s Help Center to figure out how to navigate my way through all of its features. And sharing password vaults between users is needlessly complicated. That said, Bitwarden’s customer support is great — the tech support team got back to me right away via email, and there is also a comprehensive FAQ knowledge base.
Overall, Bitwarden is not a “set-and-forget” type of application. Users looking for an easy-to-use password manager should look to something much more intuitive like Dashlane or 1Password. But if you’re willing to spend some time setting up and learning about how to make the most out of Bitwarden, it’s inexpensive price tag makes it a really high-value password manager.
Bitwarden Password Manager — Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Bitwarden safe?
- Is Bitwarden free?
- Does Bitwarden work for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS?
- Where are Bitwarden passwords stored?
Is Bitwarden safe?
Yes. Bitwarden protects user passwords with 256-bit AES encryption, which makes it basically impossible for hackers to access the data on Bitwarden’s servers. Bitwarden also has a zero-knowledge policy, which means that not even Bitwarden can access your data!
Plus, Bitwarden’s open-source development means that it has been extensively scrutinized by a ton of cybersecurity experts around the globe. Many security-minded users stand by Bitwarden as one of the most secure password managers on the market because every piece of its source code has been carefully analyzed.
Is Bitwarden free?
Bitwarden Free is one of the most full-featured free password managers on the market. The only free program that offers the same level of useful functionality is LastPass. Here’s what Bitwarden users get for free:
- Unlimited password storage on unlimited devices.
- Unlimited password sharing with one user.
- 2FA Compatibility with TOTP authenticators like Authy and Google Authenticator.
- Biometric login with iOS, Android, and Windows Hello.
Bitwarden Free is pretty good, but I still recommend upgrading to a paid password manager. Bitwarden Premium is a very affordable and secure option. It offers a lot of excellent additional features, like vault auditing, USB-key 2FA compatibility, and 1 GB encrypted storage, all for much less than competitors.
Does Bitwarden work for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS?
Yes! Bitwarden is compatible with all major operating systems — it has a desktop app for Windows, MacOS, and even Linux, a mobile app for Android and iOS, a web app, and browser extensions.
Bitwarden lets you save an unlimited number of passwords across all devices, operating systems, and browsers, and you can sync your data either through the cloud or through your local network.
Where are Bitwarden passwords stored?
Bitwarden offers users two locations to store user passwords. Storing passwords on Bitwarden’s servers allows for simple cloud-sync between all devices, and Bitwarden protects user passwords with 256-bit AES encryption and a secure SRP handshake.
For users with strong network security, Bitwarden also offers the option for local data storage. You can keep your data within your network, which eliminates the (extremely low) risk of a man-in-the-middle attack. Bitwarden is one of the only free password managers that offers local data storage.