Best fingerprint scanners 

A fingerprint scanner is a small electronic device that guards your computer from intruders. You place your fingertip on the reader; it scans your fingerprint and compares it to the prints stored in your computer’s memory. When the fingerprints match, you’re in without having to remember passwords or PINs. When someone else tries it, they’re locked out.

Fingerprint scanners can do more than provide easy, authenticated logins without personal identification numbers, though. A few can encrypt documents, videos and music. Others can be used to log into websites such as Gmail, Dropbox and Instagram by working seamlessly with password managers.

Connection

Most fingerprint scanners are small devices about the size of your thumb. They plug directly into a USB port on your computer.

  • Laptops have their USB ports on the side, inches from your keyboard, where your scanner is easy for you to reach when you log in. 
  • Desktops have their ports on the back, where it is awkward to reach around to access your fingerprint reader. If you want a fingerprint scanner for a desktop, look for one where the USB port is connected to a cable that lets you place the scanner wherever you like.

Installation

Unfortunately, most fingerprint scanners are not true plug-and-play devices. This means you have to download and install drivers before you can use yours. More expensive fingerprint scanners have simple, goof-proof installation, while you are often on your own with budget models.

360-degree detectability

Some fingerprint readers require you to place your finger in exactly the right position so it can be read properly. A few can read your fingerprint regardless of how you place your finger on the scanner, making things easier all the way around.

FIDO certification

Fast identity online standard (FIDO) is the computer industry’s specifications for biometric devices. Its protocols are intended to ultimately eliminate passwords and all the problems with that method of authentication by replacing them with biometric standards.

Best fingerprint scanners 

Inexpensive fingerprint scanners from $20-$29

Best Tec Mini USB Fingerprint Reader

Tec Mini USB Fingerprint Reader

What you need to know: You can authenticate any registered fingerprint by touching the sensor for one to two seconds.

What you’ll love: This compact scanner plugs into any open USB port on your computer and works with Linux, Windows 10 and Windows Hello. It supports fast pattern matching and 360-degree fingerprint scanning with multiple user fingerprints. 

What you should consider: Driver download and setup may be a challenge for some.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Benss Portable Biometric Fingerprint Reader Analyzer

Benss Portable Biometric Fingerprint Reader Analyzer 

What you need to know: It takes less than a tenth of a second to get going with this reader’s simplified login.

What you’ll love: This plug and play scanner installs automatically and supports up to 10 fingerprints with 360-degree fingerprint scanning and fast pattern matching. You can plug it into any open USB port on your computer to work with Windows 10 and Windows Hello.  

What you should consider: Some customers report issues when computers are in sleep mode.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Ddsky USB Portable Fingerprint Security Key

Ddsky USB Portable Fingerprint Security Key 

What you need to know: This small plug-in reader uses a smart learning algorithm for fast fingerprint matching.

What you’ll love: Based upon the Windows biometric framework, this plug-and-play reader supports multiple accounts and is compatible with Windows 10 and Windows Hello. Smart-ID encryption saves passwords for most websites as well as encrypting documents, videos, music and web pages.  

What you should consider: Downloading and installing drivers can be tiresome.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Midrange fingerprint scanners from $30-$49

Best Kensington VeriMark USB Fingerprint Key

Kensington VeriMark USB Fingerprint Key 

What you need to know: You can carry this FIDO-certified USB scanner on your key ring.

What you’ll love: This plug-and-play reader works with USB 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1 ports and is compatible with Windows 7, 8 and 10 operating systems. You can protect your Google, Dropbox and Facebook accounts with second-factor authentication. You can also use this reader to automatically fill in usernames and passwords.

What you should consider: It’s not compatible with Linux, Chrome or Mac.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Tec USB-C Fingerprint Reader

Tec USB-C Fingerprint Reader

What you need to know: This little reader reads multiple fingerprints with 360-degree resolution for families that share laptops.

What you’ll love: This fingerprint scanner is designed for Windows 10 and Windows Hello applications on computers with USB-C ports. The plug-and-play design installs in just a few moments and it encrypts documents, too.

What you should consider: This scanner takes one to two seconds to authenticate the user.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

High-end fingerprint scanners from $50-$79

Best Verifi Premium Metal Fingerprint Reader

Verifi Premium Metal Fingerprint Reader

What you need to know: The heavy 6-foot USB 2.0 cable lets you place this scanner wherever you like.

What you’ll love: The solid aluminum housing holds a silicone fingerprint slide sensor. The entire biometric unit is compatible with Chrome, Internet Explorer, Windows 7, 8 and 10 as well as Windows Hello and RoboForm.

What you should consider: You must download and install drivers before plugging this device into your PC.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best Digital Persona Kensington VeriMark Desktop USB Fingerprint Key Reader

Digital Persona Kensington VeriMark Desktop USB Fingerprint Key Reader

What you need to know: The soft, cool glow of the blue LED tells you this reader is ready to scan.

What you’ll love: This reader plugs into a USB port on the back of your computer and can be placed anywhere on your desk with its nearly 6-foot-long cable. The rugged metal casing is weighted so it sits securely on your desk without slipping and sliding. 

What you should consider: It ships with no software or manuals. Also, it works with Windows 7 but not with Windows 8, so check for compatibility before you buy.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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