It’s extremely important that you use hard-to-guess passwords for the sites and apps you visit that require a login. This can make remembering or retrieving these passwords when you need them impossible.
Luckily, the solution to this problem is to use a password manager. There are many different password managers on the market, which can make it difficult to choose one. Bitwarden is one of the popular choices, and this review covers all of the important aspects of the password manager.
This Bitwarden review answers the following questions:
- How safe and secure is Bitwarden?
- How much does Bitwarden cost?
- Is Bitwarden easy to use?
- What other features does Bitwarden offer?
Want to know if you should choose Bitwarden over other top competitors? Read on to find out everything you need to know to make that decision.
Bitwarden review summary
Bitwarden’s premium software includes an abundance of features and all while being incredibly affordable. Its free version is adequate, offering all the essential features you would want, although lacking in many useful ones.
The main downside to Bitwarden is that it is not as easy to use as other top password managers. If you’re tech-savvy, however, this low-cost option is ideal.
- Two-factor authentication and other security features
- Unlimited devices supported on all plans
- Open-source software
- Interface could be easier to use for beginners
- Importing passwords can be a slow process
The free version of Bitwarden, as with the paid editions, takes some time to get used to. Once you get accustomed to the platform, you can start to appreciate all the features on offer, including those that come with the free version.
While the free plan has all the essential features, we recommend just opting for the premium plan, considering how affordable it is and how many more extra features you get for this low price.
The main features
Here are the main features you get when you purchase the premium version of Bitwarden:
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Access to all Bitwarden apps
- Unlimited item storage (logins, notes, cards, identities)
- Text and file sharing
- The ability to sync across all devices
- Secure password generator
- Encrypted file attachments (1GB personal)
- Encrypted export
- Bitwarden Authenticator (TOTP)
- Two-step login (2FA, YubiKey, U2F, Duo)
- Vault health reports
- Emergency access
- Priority support
- Cloud host
- Self-host option
Bitwarden prioritizes consumer security and privacy through various features on offer. The secure password generator and vault health reports ensure that you use only super-strong passwords. Meanwhile, encrypted file attachments and encrypted export mean that your most sensitive information will be protected.
In addition, two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your account. This means that even if a malicious hacker discovered your Bitwarden master password, they wouldn’t be able to access your account since he or she would lack the additional verification method needed.
Functionality is where Bitwarden could do with some improvements. We found that Bitwarden’s platform is a bit trickier and less intuitive to use than others we have reviewed.
This isn’t to say Bitwarden is terrible in terms of its interface. For anyone who is even a bit tech-savvy, using Bitwarden shouldn’t be a problem. And even if you’re not particularly tech-savvy, we believe that in a short amount of time, you can get to grips with the ins and outs of Bitwarden’s platform.
The main functionality issues we came across were as follows:
- Importing passwords from a browser or other password manager can be tricky
- Sharing and syncing password vaults with other users is more complicated compared to some other password managers
- Auto-save and auto-fill can be clunky
- The interface isn’t as intuitive compared to top brands
Bitwarden has a free version, as well as several different pricing tiers tailored toward individuals, families and businesses. Here’s a breakdown of the plans.
The free edition of Bitwarden comes with various useful features, which are more extensive than the free versions of some other password managers (these can lack basic functions, like the ability to sync across devices).
Of course, some security and functionality benefits are excluded from the free version. Some important features missing are vault health reports and emergency access. Nonetheless, we like that you can use an unlimited number of devices with its free version. This is a benefit that top password managers lack in their free plans.
Bitwarden doesn’t offer a 30-day free trial of its premium tool as other providers do. This means you can’t test whether the premium version will be worth it for you. However, we don’t consider this a massive downside, given how affordable the paid versions are. Bitwarden offers a 30-day refund policy on all paid services, in case you aren’t happy with your plan.
As already mentioned, Bitwarden is impressively cheap. The individual plan costs $10 per year (or less than $1 per month). This means the premium version costs less than a third of other cheap providers.
Bitwarden Family Plan
If you live in a family household and you share some of your passwords with others, then it may be worth choosing Bitwarden’s family plan. Like the individual plan, the family edition is also extremely affordable. It costs $40 a year (or $3.33 a month).
This plan includes the premium features for up to six users. If six people end up using this plan, the cost per month per person would be $0.55. There is no other paid family plan on the market that is nearly this cheap.
As well as the features of the individual premium version, the family plan includes unlimited Collections (shared folders) and unlimited shared items.
Bitwarden’s business plans come in three varieties:
- Free Organization
- Teams Organization
- Enterprise Organization
Let’s take a look at these plans in turn and highlight which features are included in each.
This completely free business plan from Bitwarden includes benefits like sharing for two users and unlimited shared items. Of course, many businesses include more than two employees and will want sharing abilities for more users. This is why a paid plan is ideal.
Teams Organization is $3 a month per user (which is reasonably priced). Also, unlike the individual and family plans, you can enjoy a free trial of this edition. This will give you a chance to see if Teams Organization will suit your business needs. The benefits of this plan include:
- Unlimited users
- Unlimited Collections
- Event and audit logs
- User Groups
- API Access
- Directory Sync
This business plan will be suitable if you have a large organization with many employees. It costs $5 a month per user and for this price, you can benefit from the following features, absent in Teams Organization:
- Login with SSO
- Enterprise policies
- Admin Password Reset
- Custom Management Role
- Self-host option
As with Teams Organization, you can start using the Enterprise Organization plan for free and when this trial ends, you’ll know if this is the right option for you.
When using a password manager, you’re basically trusting this provider to keep a lot of your valuable information secure. Bitwarden was founded in 2015, so it hasn’t been around as long as the other top password managers. But this doesn’t mean that its level of security is any less established. In fact, Bitwarden has a strong reputation in terms of protecting customers’ security, safety, and privacy.
The utilization of 256-bit AES encryption is welcome. This is a type of encryption algorithm that we commonly see password managers use. The US federal government adopts this form of encryption to protect all of their most secret information. This is military-grade encryption. Based on existing computer power, any data encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption is practically uncrackable. This means a hacker couldn’t deliver a brute force attack and find out your passwords in the process.
Unlike other competitors that have account recovery options, Bitwarden can’t help you restore your account if you forget your master password. While this is frustrating when it happens, it is actually beneficial from a security standpoint. It means that your data is 100% secure and no one (not even Bitwarden) can access your private information.
Extra verification steps
All of Bitwarden’s plans include 2FA and biometric authentication, which we certainly appreciate. Some password managers only offer these extra verification steps as part of their paid plans. So it seems Bitwarden is committed to offering top-notch security to all its users. It’s also a bonus that Bitwarden premium has its own TOTP authenticator, so you can easily enhance your security without having to rely on a third-party authenticator.
Bitwarden’s 2FA function is compatible with TOTP authenticators like Authy and Google Authenticator. Meanwhile, its biometric login is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows Hello.
The master password
When setting up an account with Bitwarden, you will be asked to create a master password. Fortunately, Bitwarden can suggest a super-strong password for you. We tested their suggestion using our own password strength checker and we found it was, indeed, very strong. You can feel assured, then, that Bitwarden’s own password generator is reliable.
Whichever version you end up using, Bitwarden is easy to download and install, and you can have it up and running on both a desktop and mobile device in minutes. This was our experience, anyway. Bear in mind we are pretty tech-savvy, so your exact experience may be different, depending on your level of experience with tech and various pieces of software.
However, despite us finding it very easy to set up, we still found some disadvantages with Bitwarden’s usability, even when you opt for the paid editions. Let’s explore these issues in more depth.
Importing passwords with Bitwarden isn’t as streamlined as it is with other password managers. We had to use Bitwarden’s Help Center to figure out how to import passwords from an old password manager into Bitwarden’s vault. However, once we got the instructions we needed, it was pretty simple to import a CSV file with our passwords into Bitwarden. It would be better, of course, if Bitwarden offered clear guidelines on this step during the installation or migration process.
We found Bitwarden’s autofill function to be a bit clunky. Whenever you enter a new login on a site or app, Bitwarden will save that login to your password vault. Then, when you log in to that website or app again, you will see the number “1” in Bitwarden’s browser extension icon. If you click on that icon, this will reveal the relevant saved login. By clicking that login, this will autofill your password.
This is not the worst kind of autofill option we’ve seen. But we don’t think it’s as convenient as a provider like Dashlane or LastPass, which allows you to click an icon in the site’s login field to autofill. If you want autofill to be as seamless and simple as possible, then there are some slightly better alternative providers to choose from.
We’re not surprised that Bitwarden has remained one of the most popular password managers on the market. This provider offers an excellent array of features and at the most affordable price we have come across. The interface could use a little fine-tuning but for the price you pay, we think this is a small sacrifice. This password manager would be a well-suited addition to your security toolbox.
Alternatives to Bitwarden
The disadvantages of using Bitwarden, including its pricing, may make you want to try out a different password manager.
Here are the best alternatives to Bitwarden:
Other ways to protect your security
Protecting your online security should include more than just the use of a password manager. There are other crucial steps you can take that will help improve your online privacy, as well as prevent hackers from gaining access to your private information. Consider using:
Methodology: How we tested Bitwarden
Our tests essentially covered three main areas: features, effectiveness, and trustworthiness. Let’s explore how we tested these in turn.
- Features: We looked at the kinds of features that were included in each of the available packages, including the free version. We made a note of the crucial features that came with each package, as well as those that were missing and which we thought should’ve been included.
- Effectiveness: We made a judgment call about the effectiveness of Bitwarden in different ways. We tried to see how effective this provider was from a security standpoint. This meant making sure that Bitwarden had a strong encryption algorithm in place, as well as checking for features like 2FA and biometric authentication.
- Trustworthiness: We decided whether or not we could rate Bitwarden well in terms of trustworthiness. This involved seeing how transparent the provider was about its billing, as well as how reliable and helpful their customer support was.
- Price: We also analyzed the cost-effectiveness of Bitwarden. This meant deciding whether the benefits and downsides made sense in terms of the price tag.
Here is a full description of our testing methodology for password managers.