Q. I went on a trip without my logins and passwords, which I keep in a paper notebook at home. Is there a way to keep such information protected in my laptop or iPhone?
A. The password manager app is an electronic equivalent of the paper notebook stuffed with user names and passwords, and there are several of these programs to consider for your next trip. LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password are three apps that routinely get good reviews and work on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac systems.
A password manager program serves as an encrypted vault for the login credentials you use for the various sites and services in your online life. Once you set up the program, you need only to remember one password to unlock the vault; fingerprint recognition and PIN codes are also used in many cases. The app can serve as a digital notebook where you jot down your preferred passwords; some apps even nudge you to create stronger passwords if the ones you use are deemed too easy to crack.
Most good apps in this category can also do the hard part for you by creating and saving a unique, complex password for each login that it automatically uses when you visit that site. In addition to passwords, many apps can also store information (like insurance cards and credit card numbers) and issue security alerts when you need to change a password.
The Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times, favors LastPass as the best password-manager app. LastPass and Dashlane both have free versions to download, but they offer premium plans with perks like technical support and expanded syncing. LastPass Premium costs $1 a month, while Dashlane Premium is a monthly $3.33.
The 1Password app also got good marks for those who primarily use Apple hardware, thanks to its wide range of features for iPhones, Macs and the like. 1Password has a free 30-day trial period, and its basic plan costs $2.99 a month.
If you want to have a look at each app and how it works before you make a decision, each company has made videos to demonstrate the software — LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password all have YouTube channels of their own. In addition to viewing promotional material, you can watch tip clips and tutorials for each app.