Bitwarden Password Manager 2021: Test & Experience Report

Bitwarden Password Manager 2021: Test & Experience Report

To protect their computers and accounts, users like to secure their accounts with a password manager such as Bitwarden, Lastpass or Keypass. These generate a unique and secure password for each online service, which is then encrypted and stored centrally. The protected services can be used with any browser, including Firefox or Chrome.

Bitwarden is such a younger generation protection program. Bitwarden is open source software whose basic program code is openly accessible to users. We took a closer look at the provider and analyzed whether this password manager is really worth it.


Backgrounds on Bitwarden

Bitwarden is an open source password manager developed by 8ibit Solutions LLC. This service was first released as a mobile application in 2016, and two years later the protection software was expanded so that it can now also be used on desktop computers.

Users who consult a review will quickly realize why this comparatively new program certainly does not need to hide from applications that have been on the market for some time:

Because Bitwarden has a cloud connection, it is easily possible to synchronize passwords and all kinds of data between the computer and various mobile devices.

Access via the browser is just as easy. This is ensured by a plug-in that is tailored to a large number of browsers such as Safari, Chrome or Firefox.

The user interface and ease of use at Bitwarden

Bitwarden divides the functions of the personal password center into three components. Namely on the web vault, the browser extension and the desktop app:

Web VaultDesktop AppBrowser extension

The Web Vault

If a visitor is looking for special features that they don't need regularly, they have to go to the web vault. Here he can not only import data but also view various reports on how secure his passwords are. However, only premium users can make use of these functions.

Bitwarden's desktop application dashboard is streamlined by accommodating some important functions in the web vault. What is still missing is a shortcut that can be used to switch to the web version more conveniently in the application.

The desktop app

In the desktop application, the user not only has the opportunity to manage his data records, but also to create new entries. Because the premium features have been housed elsewhere, there are no paywalls here. The dashboard is therefore extremely straightforward and does not require any unnecessary frills.

The browser extension

In terms of functions, the Bitwarden browser extension offers a little more than comparable protection programs such as Avira or NordLocker. A special plus is that the user can also create new data records quickly and easily by hand. The fact that the user can open the browser extension in an external window is also extremely practical.

Because the slimmed-down version offers almost all necessary features, it is often not even necessary to open the main program.

Basically, the protection program is structured in such a way that it is extremely easy to use, so that the user can fully concentrate on the actual task of the software. This is also the reason why some functions can only be used in the web vault, even if one or the other may find this annoying if they want to use exactly these functions often.

The advantage that the user can find his way around immediately and hardly encounters any insurmountable obstacles should more than outweigh this.

The features of Bitwarden

Bitwarden is also extremely simple in terms of functions, so that the program does not offer any sophisticated functions, but only covers the important areas related to password protection. A password generator, with the help of which the user can create secure passwords and phrases, is of course not missing.

Passwords and phrases are of typical length and contain different characters.

Under the "Settings" menu item, the user has the option of setting a PIN. He can use this instead of the master password to unlock Bitwarden. The user can also change the design of the program, but with four themes the choice is somewhat limited.

The password sharing

The function of sharing passwords in Bitwarden differs somewhat from comparable programs. If a user wants to share passwords, they can create "organizations" in their web vault. These are shared vaults used by multiple users. Records that he wants to share with others must be filed in these organizations.

This option is now considered a standard function in many programs, but with Bitwarden it is chargeable. Although the administrator does not have to pay anything to create an organization, it can only be used by two users. For other functions, the user pays a price of at least one US dollar per month.

The autofill function

When it comes to regular login autofill, Bitwarden does well. For example, all forms on the websites that were tested were filled out correctly by the extension, but this only affects logins. With bank data, for example, it is necessary to copy them from the vault via Copy & Copy paste into the correct box.

The autosave function also has weaknesses. Actually, a small pop-up window should automatically ask whether the security software should remember the data for the login. If a user wants to use this function, he must check this in the "Options" menu item. However, the autosave function does not always work even then.

If a user wants to change his passwords, he must proceed with the appropriate caution. If the autosave function proves to be unreliable, the user must manually copy their passwords into the corresponding data record so that they do not lose them. In terms of this feature, other password managers prove to be better.

While Bitwarden covers all the major features, you have to pay extra for some of them. This also applies if a user has taken out a premium subscription. And the automatic saving also leaves a lot to be desired, because this is one of the most important features of a password manager.

Security features

The various security features are also not available free of charge at Bitwarden, so only premium customers have access to these functions. For example, they receive reports about passwords that have been reused, are weak, or are compromising.

Only the data theft report is available free of charge.

The security of Bitwarden

The data is encrypted by the software using the AES 356-bit standard. This is considered absolutely safe. Bitwarden works according to the principle of zero knowledge. This means that only the user knows the master password, and the program is also denied access to it.

In addition, Bitwarden has two-factor authentication. Those who use the free version can verify the login via email or use apps such as Authy or Google Authenticator. Premium customers have more options. This also includes Duo Security and Yubikey.

Bitwarden had its security checked externally by Cure53 at the end of 2018. Significant hazards were not observed. In any case, the fact that the provider is willing to undergo such an audit shows that it takes the privacy and security of its customers extremely seriously.

The mobile use of Bitwarden

Bitwarden Password Manager 2021: Test & Field Report

The mobile version of the program is very similar to the desktop version. All collections, folders and records are displayed in the main window. In the lower area of ​​the screen there is a menu through which the user can switch to the settings or to the password generator.

The software does not have an integrated browser. Instead, the data sets open in the browser that the user regularly uses. However, the reliability of the autofill function is not always guaranteed here, which was not the case in other apps.

So that the user does not have to constantly enter the master password, Bitwarden can also be unlocked using a fingerprint or PIN. Despite the weaknesses in the autofill function, the Bitwarden app basically leaves nothing to be desired for mobile use.

How is Bitwarden set up?

Bitwarden is available for numerous different platforms:

Step 1: Users who want to download Bitwarden in German must select the correct install file for the download in the first step.

Step 2: You can then create a free account on the provider's website or alternatively do this in the desktop client. To do this, the user sets a master password, which serves as the key to all his other passwords.

As soon as the user has entered the master password, the program checks the security level of the password. If you are afraid of forgetting your master password, you can also add a note to the correct password here.

Step 3: As soon as the user has registered, he is forwarded to the dashboard.

This is organized in the classic way, namely according to the three-column structure: The left-hand column contains the main menu, which contains folders, data record types and shortcuts. In addition to the search function, the middle column also contains the various data record entries. More information about the entries that the user selects can be viewed in a window. If the user wants to create a new entry, all he has to do is click on the plus sign.

The interface is kept very simple, so that the user can quickly find his way around and does not have to search for specific functions for a long time.

Only the import is a little complicated: Because importing data is only possible in the web vault, i.e. in the browser version. However, LastPass .csv files, for example, can be imported very well in the test. Both the passwords and usernames have been mapped to the correct fields. And the categories defined in LastPass are also adopted by Bitwarden as folders in the main menu.

Because there is no automatic installation of the browser extension, the user has to add it manually, which he did within a very short time. Bitwarden is also based on proven concepts with this extension, so that it can be viewed as a small version of the desktop app.

However, Bitwarden has a little more features than other programs. Here, too, it is possible for the user to add new entries and he has access to his complete safe. A small special feature is that the user can open the extension in a separate window with a click.

Although Bitwarden is a relatively new password manager, the programmers have based all important points on established programs. All applications can be operated intuitively and the functions are self-explanatory, so that even newcomers can quickly find their way around.

The support at Bitwarden

The support at Bitwarden is not in German. However, the most important questions are answered by the Help Center in an FAQ. There is also a forum where users can ask individual questions. If a user wants to contact the support team directly, they can do so by email. However, this provider does not have a live chat or ticket system.

But e-mails with questions from users are answered extremely quickly, in the best case even on the same day.

The price of Bitwarden

This program is extremely cheap compared to other protection programs. The premium version, which includes additional data storage, security features and better support, costs less per year than many other programs per month.

If you want to use the sharing functions, you have to pay extra every month. Individuals and companies can buy the program at different tariffs.

These are the pros and cons of Bitwarden

The user-friendly applications are very well thought out.

Security is good, which is also confirmed by external tests.

The support provides valuable assistance.

The price is low.

Disappointing autofill performance

The user has to pay for some basic features

The conclusion to Bitwarden

Some programs are so reliable and good that any errors are all the more obvious. At Bitwarden, this applies in particular to the reliability of autosave and autofill. These are a far cry from the program's otherwise excellent offerings.

A big plus, according to experience, is that Bitwarden is fast, secure and intuitive to use.

The small deficits, however, ensure that users have to take extra steps, which not only means more effort, but also causes unnecessary frustration in the long run.

Because Bitwarden is still a young program, the weaknesses that can currently be identified can be eliminated as soon as new versions appear. Apart from these small shortcomings, Bitwarden is completely convincing - especially since the price is extremely cheap.

If you still want to use a sophisticated and comprehensive password management program, the LastPass application is a good choice. With the free version, almost all aspects of a password manager are fulfilled. If you want to test the premium version for a month without obligation, you can do so and convince yourself of the quality of LastPass.

Best password manager

Extensive functions: password generator, emergency access, security tests, multi-factor authentication and much more.

High usability: Fast setup & Autofill function

High security measures: AES-256 encryption standard

Top price-performance ratio: Extensive free version & very cheap premium version

To LastPass

About Kevin Seeberger

Kevin Seeberger is a graduate economist with a focus on e-commerce & Marketing. He takes care of various topics related to computer security, cryptocurrencies and reviews.

All posts by Kevin Seeberger →