2-factor authentication is one of the major advancements in Internet security.

Well, What is 2-factor authentication? It’s just an authentication that requires more than just one type of evidence to claim account ownership.

Various methods are used to implement 2-factor authentication, which includes, SMS, authenticator apps, and hardware.

I specifically recommend that you use an authenticator app rather than SMS because it’s safer (Hardware is as safe). Not to mention the loss of access to the locale SMS in case you move to another location, say a new country.

If you can’t have a stronger password then at least a 2-factor authentication app is an additional measure which makes it hard for intruders to have a way into your accounts. It’s actually one of the fundamental measures that I recommended for Facebook here.

After a long search for a perfect authenticator app, I happen to have found 4 best ones from which you can also pick one.

What I considered when compiling the best authenticator apps

  1. Multi-device support – It’s very essential to have an authenticator app that syncs across multiple devices. This helps in case your main phone goes missing. Remember without the OTP generated in the app, you could permanently lose access to an account.
  1. Multi-platform – Both Android and iOS users need to keep their accounts safe with multi-factor authenticator apps. All the authenticator apps I examined are multi-platform which you can use it with whatever phone you have.
  1. The simplicity of use – I looked at how easy it is to use the application, for even the non-tech user.
  1. Security history – This involves history about past security breaches. So be guaranteed to find the most secure 2-factor authenticator apps.
  1. Offline mode – All these 2-factor authentication apps can be used when your phone is not connected to the internet.

Let’s dive straight in.

The Best free multi-factor authenticator apps

Microsoft Authenticator

Microsoft authenticator listing

This is my best pick for one reason. Its multi-device sync doesn’t require SMS verification.

As the name suggests, this is a product of Microsoft.

The Microsoft authenticator has a strong encrypted backup feature that allows syncing of your codes across multiple devices. As I told you earlier in the introduction, this is very important.

The simple user interface makes it easy to use for everyone.

In order to use this app, you need to sign up for a Microsoft account. However, if you already have a Microsoft account that you use on services like Windows 10, MS Office and more…, then you don’t need to open another one.

What I like about Microsoft Authenticator

  • Multi-device synchronization (You need to turn on cloud backup from the app settings)
  • Support for smartwatch wear
  • App lock. It has an inbuilt app lock that allows you to lock this specific app with either biometrics or a password.
  • Security notifications concerning your saved accounts.
  • Battery optimization. The app has a feature to enable battery optimization
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To add an account to Microsoft authenticator, click on the menu icon at the top right corner (3 vertical dots). Click Add account and then tap Other account.

You can then scan the QR code displayed on the site where you’re enabling 2-factor authentication, or click on ENTER CODE MANUALLY in case you’re unable to scan.

On a successful add, the account will be displayed in the authenticator’s home page, after which you can always use the constantly changing code attached to the account.


Authy 2-Factor Authentication

Authy 2-factor authentication listing

Authy is another good 2-factor authenticator app that supports multi-device use through backups. So never worry about being locked out when you lose your phone.

You’ll always login back to your previous account state.

Authy is trusted by many providers including the Bitcoin companies like Coinbase, CEX.IO and many others…

The application uses your phone number and email address for back up and multi-device synchronization. I don’t like attaching my login information to my phone number. But most people have no problem with it which makes it suitable for many.

What I like about Authy

  • Multi-device synchronization. To use this feature, you need to turn backups from the app’s settings
  • Encrypted backups
  • App protection with a pin or biometrics
  • Provision for a smartwatch app

What I don’t like Authy

  • Phone number verification when synchronizing on a new device

You can add an account to Authy by clicking on the menu icon located at the top right corner. Then tap on Add Account.

Here you can either scan the QR code on the site you’re adding or enter a code manually.

The Account will then be added to the list displayed on the App homepage.


LastPass Authenticator

LastPass authenticator listing

LastPass Authenticator is a great multi-factor authenticator app, especially for users of the LastPass password manager.

It has one-tap push notifications that allow you to just tap a button displayed on your phone to approve an authentication. This, however, can only be used by LastPass password manager users.

one tap push notifications for lastpass

LastPass authenticator also provides a backup and restore feature just in case to change or lose your old phone.

If you like a simple interface then LastPass will be a good fit. Not a lot of time was put into UI, but you’ll be humbled by the work done.

What I like about LastPass Authenticator

  • Restore and backup of saved accounts
  • One-tap push notifications for authentication
  • App lock with either a pin or biometrics
  • Adjustable length for codes generated

What I don’t like LastPass Authenticator

  • No smartwatch app
  • One-tap push notifications only work for the LastPass Password manager users

Then tap Scan Barcode to scan the QR code, or Enter Manually if you can’t use the scan feature

Add accounts to your LastPass authenticator by clicking on the floating button with a plus sign displayed on the app’s homepage.

You can then view the accounts added on the app’s homepage with their OTPs.


Google Authenticator

Google authenticator listing

This Google’s official 2-factor authenticator app.

It one of the authenticator apps with the simplest interfaces. If you’re looking for something simple then This can be a good choice.

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The interface can be boring if you’re looking for a more appealing look

Google Authenticator is a very secure authenticator app that has a provision for changing the OTP codes depending on the time zone.

Although the interface might seem boring, it comes with a dark mode feature that most apps on the list are missing.

The major problem you’ll find with Google Authenticator is the pain to restore your codes after changing a phone.

What I like about Google Authenticator

  • Simple interface
  • Adjustable OTP time zone
  • Smartwatch support

What I don’t like about Google Authenticator

  • Pain to restore codes after changing a phone
  • No app lock to protect the authenticator

If it’s your first time using Google Authenticator, just click on the Begin button displayed in the app. Then click on Scan a barcode or Enter a provided key.

OTPs for all added accounts are displayed on the app’s homepage.

Enock Lubowa
A technologist who writes for both the geeks and non-geeks. I am an entrepreneur and Android developer with a Computer Science background. Get in touch with me via my social handles below.