A password manager is a savior in this unsecure world where a different complicated password is required for each and every account that requires login. However, with so many password managers out there, it can be difficult to identify the good ones from the rest. Luckily, we found Bitwarden, which is a comprehensive tool to manage passwords.
Bitwarden is an open-source password manager that supports almost all computing platforms, comes with plenty of features and is free. It is available for Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, and iOS and supports almost all browsers.
Note: in this review we will focus on the Linux version.
You will find Bitwarden in most software centers/package managers. To install Bitwarden, simply search for it and click to install.
Alternatively, you can download the AppImage from Bitwarden’s Download page. Grant it an executable permission and will work in most Linux distributions.
Note: Bitwarden is also available in the Snap store. It can be installed with the command:
Getting Started with Bitwarden
On the first run, Bitwarden will prompt you to create a new account. The next time you use it, you just have to log in using your email address and the password.
Add Browser Extension
Using Bitwarden on its own would be too clunky. You will have to go back and forth between the application and your browser to endlessly copy and paste passwords.
To sidestep this problem, you can use an extension for your browser. This extension will act as a connector to Bitwarden, allowing it to grab your password and autofill it in the browser. It can also prompt you to save the password when setting up a new account.
To help in its installation, bitwarden provides shortcuts for extensions for the most popular browsers. Choose “Help -> Get Browser Extension” and then your browser of choice to visit the appropriate page.
Since we are using Firefox, we visited Mozilla’s add-ons collection by using the provided link. We then clicked on “Add to Firefox” to install the extension.
After you add the extension to your browser, it will show a panel where you will have to enter your login details to gain access to your secure vault.
Click “Login” and use the email address and password you used to register in the previous steps.
Save Passwords as You Go
From this point on, whenever Bitwarden detects that you entered a password for a site that isn’t stored yet in its vault, it will offer to remember it. After that, whenever you revisit the same website, Bitwarden will autocomplete your password for you.
Although you don’t have to, by using the application itself, you can further organize your passwords. You can edit each entry to manually change its name, your login details, the corresponding URL, or even add some notes.
You can also group your stored passwords or mark some of them as “Favorites” for easier (manual) access from the list entry with the same name at the left of Bitwarden’s window.
Upgrade Your Security
Since Bitwarden can remember complicated passwords for you, your next step is to replace all your existing passwords with ones that are more complex. Bitwarden can help you in that, thanks to its included Password Generator, that you will find in its “View” menu, or by pressing the Ctrl + G combination on your keyboard.
The Password Generator window offers options for you to customize the complexity of the password. You can set the length of password, and whether it should contain uppercase, lowercase, digits, symbols, etc.
It also allows you to generate passphrases instead of passwords. Those consist of words that, theoretically, should be easier to remember than a random string of characters.
Saving Your Password Vault
By default, your password vault is saved in Bitwarden’s server. (That’s why you need a login account.) The good thing about this is that you can access your password vault wherever you are. However, if you are concerned about your data security, you can self-host it on your own server. This requires technical skill and (plenty of) time, so it is definitely not for everyone.
As mentioned above, Bitwarden is free to install and use. If you desire more advanced features, like support for TOTP two-factor authentication, two-step login with YubiKey, FIDO U2F, Duo, Password hygiene and vault health reports, and priority customer support, then you can upgrade to the premium version for $10/year. That is less than $1 per month.
While there are plenty of password managers out there, Bitwarden is one of the very few that provides nearly all features for free. You should give it a try if you are not using any system to manage your passwords yet.