We are going to compare it with KeePass, another password manager that is making waves for its free and open-source nature.
Dashlane is free to use with an optional premium upgrade. It comes with a nice and intuitive interface, robust security features, and cross-platform compatibility.
KeePass has gained momentum for its open-source nature that gives you more control over your data, reduces the risks of data abuse by big companies, and puts a strong emphasis on security.
Both apps do things a bit differently. Let’s check it out how.
1. How to Begin
Dashlane is pretty straightforward to implement and use. You create an account which will take you to the free version — a solid product with all the essential features as in Dashlane Premium. You can then install Dashlane on any device and begin using it to generate and store passwords, payment gateway information, and profiles. The UI is aesthetically pleasing as well.
KeePass is open-source and free, and comes in two versions — 1.x (.kdb files) and 2.x (.kdbx files). The fundamental difference being that 2.x supports Mono which works on macOS, Linux, Debian, and BSD besides Windows, and supports additional features such as advanced search, OTP, and smart card features.
Apart from this, KeePass also has two unofficial versions — KeePass X forked out of KeePass, and KeePass XC (C stands for Community) which was later forked out of KeePass X by the community. The KeePass XC is in active development due to the community-driven initiative whereas KeePass X is no longer getting any features and its development appears to have ceased.
Similarly, there are multiple apps available for Android and iOS platform as well. The app you will download and use will depend on the file type your chosen KeePass port supports. We are going with official KeePass app for this guide. If you want to go with the ported version, KeePass XC is a great product with more features and is also cross-platform ready.
Dashlane comes with an interactive guide that will take you through the installation and import process. If you are left guessing which version you should use and which app is right, Dashlane will guide you through that as well.
Both KeePass and Dashlane will let you create, store, and auto-fill passwords for your favorite sites across all platforms. Dashlane stores all your data in the cloud, whereas KeePass asks you to create a password database and save it locally on your computer. I decided to use Google Drive for added safety.
You can create profiles to auto-fill forms and make payments using Dashlane. There is also a separate tab to save a digital copy of your important documents and receipts of purchases you make online.
Similarly, you can create groups in KeePass to save entries for important sites with login details, notes, and important docs. Each group can have more sub-groups so you can create a tree format.
You can use KeePass to auto-fill credit card info as well, but you will have to do it using custom auto-type sequence. To do that, create a new entry and enter details, each detail in a new line.
Security’s importance is increasing with the rise in the number of hacks that have plagued the Silicon Valley in recent years. Both Dashlane and KeePass take their security seriously.
Dashlane operates on a ‘zero-knowledge architecture’ meaning the company itself cannot access your data. KeePass being an open-source software stores the password database on your hard disk. Apart from this, both the password managers use the standard AES-256 bit encryption. However, if your master password is compromised, all is lost.
KeePass additionally employs Rijndael encryption algorithm and encrypts not just the passwords, but all fields included in the database.
Dashlane allows users to share encrypted notes and passwords with other Dashlane users like trusted friends and family members. KeePass employs SHA-256 technology to hash key components cryptographically.
Both Dashlane and KeePass support 2FA using mobile apps and Yubikey as an additional layer of security.
Finally, those who would like to store all their data locally instead of cloud and still want the simplicity of Dashlane should use its free version which will only work on one device, but store everything locally like in KeePass. Useful for your primary PC which you only use for work.
4. Uncommon Features
Dashlane Premium account is worth the price (more on that later)as it offers several features to increase productivity. You can change passwords of hundreds of sites at once in case you believe there was a breach.
Dashlane will also alert you in case a site that you are using has reported a breach on their servers. You will receive alerts via mail and in-app notifications.
Dashlane offers free VPN to all premium and business users to further mask identity and data.
Recently, several instances came to light where user data was leaked or sold on the dark web. To deal with this, Dashlane monitors the dark web and alerts you if it finds your credentials, names, or data there.
KeePass differs mainly by allowing developers to contribute to the library and cross-check the source code to make sure everything checks out. While it lacks in the UI department, it makes up for it in the database management department.
Also, there are many plugins and extensions available for KeePass that can really change how the password manager functions. There are plugins for database management and importing data, adding other encryption methods like Twofish, remove duplicate entries, and more. There are over 70 plugins at the time of writing this guide. This makes KeePass highly customizable.
KeePass also has a portable version that you can install on a pen drive, which is quite useful if you need to change your PC often. Admin guys, anyone? You can store docs and images with entries in case you have some relevant screenshots or images or how-to guides.
KeePass also keeps a history of all your old passwords, in case you need them. It stores them with metadata like date and time.
5. Price and Availability
KeePass is free to download and use. It is available for platforms like Windows, macOS, Linux, Ubuntu, BSD, Gentoo, Debian, openSUSE, Android, iOS, and even J2ME based smartphones made by some developers in different flavors.
Dashlane is also available for all major platforms like Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, and browser extensions — Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Opera, and Brave . The free version of Dashlane is limited to one device for holding up to 50 passwords of different accounts.
Dashlane’s Premium plan is billed at $60 annually and removes these limitations to enable advanced functions like password sharing, VPN, and so on. In my opinion, the unlimited VPN service alone makes up for the price that they charge.
Dashlane vs. KeePass: Which One Should You Use?
If you want a hassle-free secure password manager with additional features like receipts and documents storage and sharing, VPN, and you don’t mind storing data in the cloud, go for Dashlane.If you are not an advanced user, Dashlane’s free version will serve you well and let you control your data at will.
KeePass is more suitable for advanced users with some understanding of database management who are uncomfortable with sharing their data with companies or storing on cloud servers. It is not very user-friendly, but it is still a solid product because of its features.
Next up: Already using Dashlane? Want to learn how to share passwords securely with family members? Click on the link below to learn more.