If your main objective is to secure your accounts with Two-Factor Authentication, Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator are great choices. However, when you consider many additional options offered by the former, the choice becomes clear.
Google Authenticator vs Microsoft Authenticator – main differences.
- Microsoft Authenticator offers an optional Cloud Backup which is not available in Google Authenticator.
- An optional App Lock feature will lock the Microsoft Authenticator until a valid pin or fingerprint is provided.
- Microsoft Authenticator offers Passwordless Logins with an on-screen prompt not available in Google Authenticator.
- Unlike Google Authenticator you can use Microsoft Authenticator as an authentication method with your Work or School account.
- Manage your passwords with Microsoft Authenticator and sync them across devices.
- Microsoft Authenticator will Autofill your passwords for you on sites and applications, a feature that is not available in Google Authenticator as it does not have a Password Management option.
- Microsoft Authenticator will save passwords on apps and sites you visit.
- You can use the Microsoft Authenticator application on multiple devices including Android, iOS, and Windows, and your TOTP or OTP codes and passwords will sync across. Google authenticator is available only for Android and iOS and does not have a synchronization option.
- You can import you existing passwords from a wide variety of applications to Microsoft Authenticator.
- Sync the data between Edge browser and Microsoft Authenticator.
As you can see, there is a big difference between both apps. However, the Microsoft Authenticator easily outperformed Google Authenticator with the vast array of features offered by the app.
But are all these options essential and useful, or is it just a gimmick?
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Cloud Backup – Back up and recover account credentials.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the Google Authenticator app is the lack of a backup option. You can use Google Authenticator on multiple devices or transfer the codes to a new phone or perhaps use an old phone as a backup, but the codes will not synchronize across devices.
Just imagine what will happen if you lose your phone with Google Authenticator on it and you haven’t saved your QR codes or Secret Keys.
You will get locked out of your accounts and rely on online support to hopefully unlock them, providing that you can prove your identity to them.
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That’s why the Cloud Backup option, in my opinion, is the most useful feature available in Microsoft Authenticator.
App Lock – Secure Microsoft Authenticator app with Pin or Biometric authentication.
An App Lock is an optional feature, and once enabled, it will protect the Microsoft Authenticator app with Pin or Biometric authentication.
Unfortunately, such a solution is not yet available in the Google Authenticator app. However, this functionality can be achieved by installing a third-party app or using the Android built-in App Lock option.
Passwordless Logins with on-screen prompt.
Secure your Microsoft account or any other compatible account with the Passwordless Login feature. Instead of typing your password, log in using your phone by simply pressing Approve when a login request is made.
Authenticate your Work or School accounts with Mircosoft Authenticator.
If your work or school uses Two-Factor Authentication, you can set up your accounts to use Microsoft Authenticator to verify when logging in.
Manage your passwords with the Password Management feature.
With the help of a Password Management feature available in Microsoft Authenticator, you can safely store all your login credentials.
You can also import them from various other applications, including Google Chrome, 1Password, LastPass, Firefox, or RoboForm Password Manager.
The Autofill option will automatically populate the login forms for you, so you don’t have to remember your passwords.
An Autofill option is already built into the Edge browser, and you need to download the Microsoft Autofil extension if you like to use this option in the Google Chrome browser.
Should I switch to Microsoft Authenticator from Google Authenticator?
Again, in my opinion, the best option in the Microsoft Authenticator is the Cloud Backup and the fact that the data will automatically sync across devices.
I have recently lost my phone with Microsoft Authenticator on it, and thanks to the cloud backup option, it took me less than five minutes to restore the Microsoft Authenticator app on my new device.
Although Cloud Backup is not the perfect solution since you will rely on someone to protect your data, I don’t believe we have many choices.
One day, I have lost my phone with Google Authenticator on it, and it took me weeks to regain access to most of my accounts. At that time, I switched to Authy as this was the only app that provided Cloud Backup and automatic synchronization across devices.
The benefit of selecting Microsoft Authenticator over Authy is the Password Management feature offered by the former.
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I like the fact that I can use one application to store my Passwords and authenticate with 2FA. However, the fruit on the cake is the Autofill option provided by the Password Management feature, which will auto-populate the credential forms for me.
If you decide to switch to Microsoft Authenticator, make sure to read my other article on how to delete the Google Authenticator app from your phone safely.