Dashlane is a popular password manager with a lot of additional features. Bloated, or essential? That’s the question.
Dashlane is a solid option for some consumers — namely those that want one-app-to-rule-them-all. The features aren’t best in class, but they’re useful and probably fine for the majority of low-tech users.
Dashlane, founded in 2011, has grown immensely in popularity over the past few years. The company now boasts over 10 million users(!) and has well over 100 employees working on its product.
Over the years, Dashlane has expanded the product significantly, to offer a VPN, password changer, identify theft insurance, and more.
It’s clear to see why so many people are interested in the product. To me, though, it’s more often that I find myself disappointed with products that purport to do everything. It’s really hard to get one thing right — much less tying together a handful of related services. While these types of products are initially impressive, you often lose the flexibility and robust features that come with standalone applications.
Can Dashlane avoid the trap of bloated tools? Let’s find out.
If you’ve used a password manager at all, you’ll feel right at home in Dashlane. It looks like most other password managers, and it behaves like most other password managers, too. I was able to test the app on desktop (macOS) and mobile (iOS) and it behaved exactly as expected.
I found the keyboard shortcuts on desktop to be quite nice. I used them much more often than I did with other services for some reason — maybe because of the impala logo set into the forms as a subtle reminder that I have logins available.
This is a unique feature that I found very interesting. In the event that you’re unable to access your logins, Dashlane allows you to add a contact as an emergency contact.
Presumably, at some point in the future, they’ll be able to request access to your logins. You’ll receive an email, approve the request, and off they go.
Here’s where it gets neat: if you don’t refuse the request within a certain period of time (which you set), the request will automatically be granted.
This feature could come in super handy for those times when you are otherwise unable to approve a request or give someone access to something (jail, death, illness, etc.).
This feature is not currently available in the iOS or Android mobile apps.
Dashlane can go out and change your passwords for you. Most (all other?) password managers cannot do this — so I was interested in taking it for a spin.
Using the app, I clicked on the tab, and it offered me three sites it could change passwords on. After trying for a minute, one password was successfully changed, and the other two failed for unknown reasons.
Dashlane maintains a list of supported sites on their website, but it looks like a small-ish list of a few hundred sites currently available.
Dashlane also offers a VPN for the Premium Plan (or higher).
It’s an interesting idea, as many users who are thinking about increasing their password security are probably also thinking about their online privacy.
The question is whether or not the product is worth using over a standalone VPN or just another piece of fluffware to make an expensive (for the product category) subscription seem more valuable.
The first thing to note here is that the VPN is actually running on the AnchorFree infrastructure. Instead of building and maintaining their own VPN, Dashlane partnered with the makers of Hotspot Shield, Betternet, etc. — a good choice, if you ask me.
The glaring flaw that I found is that the VPN doesn’t allow you to select your location, so it’s not good for anything that requires a foreign location. It always connects to the closest location to you. It won’t work for circumventing content restrictions on Netflix or Hulu for example.
It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have or category killer and I’d strongly recommend running your own standalone VPN on another service. That said, it’s not bad for hopping onto while at a coffee shop or other free public wifi.
If you’re on the Premium Plan (or higher), you’ll get access to a feature called Dark Web Monitoring & Personalized Alerts. The way it works is you give Dashlane an email address, and it’ll scan known data breaches where your information was disclosed.
I tested the service and it found the same results as something like haveibeenpwned.com — and not really anything else.
It’s a neat feature, but one that most competitors have parity with (and I think 1Password executes better with their Watchtower service).
Dashlane is more expensive than most of its’ competitors that I’ve tested.
Dashlane has a free plan, which allows you to manage up to 50 passwords.
If you need more than this (most do), you’ll pay $4.99 per month (annual billing) for the Premium plan. Premium also includes Dark Web Monitoring and the VPN.
There’s also a Premium Plus plan offered, for $9.99 per month (annual) that includes all of the above, real-time credit monitoring, identity restoration support, and up to $1 million in identity theft insurance (underwritten by AIG). I don’t think that many users should select this plan.
It’s odd to me that Dashlane doesn’t have a family plan — given that I think it’s a great choice for people who want to install one app (no standalone vpn, or other browser extensions) and go on about their business.
Dashlane is a solid product, but it feels like it’s doing too much.
I was able to find dozens of threads where longtime users of Dashlane chimed in and said that the product had had long-standing bugs and issues that seem to have been ignored by the development team.
Take that with a grain of salt though, because Dashlane certainly has a lot of users and it’s difficult to determine how much of this is base rate related and how much of the userbase is actually experiencing these issues. People who complain online tend to be in the vocal minority, not the regular majority!
I also want to note that during my tests I did not experience any real issues outside of the password changer not working on some of the sites it offered.