• Pricing
  1. Home
  2. Protect PDF
  3. How To Protect PDF
  4. How to Create a Strong Password the Old-School Way
encrypt pdf

How to Create a Strong Password the Old-School Way

by Hung Nguyen

You can also read this article in German, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Italian and Portuguese.

Creating a strong, secure, and memorable password isn't difficult. Follow our quick guide to get it done in a jiffy!

It's not that hard to set a secure and robust password these days. Mobile phones now allow you to enter six-digit passwords, or to customize them with alphanumeric combinations. For online portals, you can use password managers or even a random but strong password generator to do the job.

However, these online tools often fall short for two reasons: 1. These passwords are long, secured, but not memorable. 2. These services might not always be available.

strong password 1

Strong passwords are great, but one that's memorable to you is even better.

For the latter, one case may be when you need to set a password for a PDF document. Our popular Protect PDF tool allows you to encrypt your PDF files with a nearly unbreakable password, but of course, you'll need to remember it. So we've gathered up a few tips to help you set the strongest passwords you can, within seconds.

Essential Tips To Follow for a Strong Password


'Short and sweet' is great, but not for passwords

For a strong password, make sure that it's at least 10 characters long. Include numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and of course, symbols.

Never reuse a password

This is a big no-no. This habit is the main reason why so many people get hacked nowadays.

We know, it's hard to remember dozens of passwords for every account, so it's hard to resist the urge to reuse them.

But what's the big deal? If you suffer a minor leak anywhere, you're at risk of jeopardizing multiple accounts.

Non-dictionary words are no good either

You may be tempted to open up the good ol' dictionary and pick out a random word for a strong password. Problem is, these words may still be relatively common and easy for hackers to crack, but they're hard to remember as well!

Don't use your personal information

Don't use your date of birth. Don't use your parents’, siblings’, cousin's, distant cousin's best friend's cat's date of birth either. If you must, use something that no one else knows, like the date that you last moved house. Also,, make sure that it's part of a longer chain, and that the keywords and numbers aren't related.

Don't use common substitutes

We're no longer in the early 2000s. Don't replace your "o"s with "0"s, "l"s with capitalized "i"s, "S" with “$”, "a"s with "@," and the list goes on. We mean it! A strong password back in the day is weak nowadays. There are password-cracking applications that can recognize these substitutes, also known as “leetspeak” passwords.

Test how strong your password is

How secure is my password? Many free and online services will let you know how many years it would take for a computer to crack your password. Pretty nifty!

strong password 2

Definitely not a strong password.

The Advanced Guide on Setting a Strong Password That Is Also Easy to Remember


Here's a trick that we go by on how to create a strong password:Pick a phrase that's ingrained in your mind, but one that no-one would know. You can use a quote, lyrics to your favorite song or slogan. Whatever you like. Then take the first character of each word in the phrase and combine them. You can also use the last character, or if you're hardcore, go for the first two characters. For instance, take our footer that's displayed at the bottom of our web pages: © 2021 Smallpdf AG — Made with ♥ for the people of the internet. Taking the first character of each word, the password formed would be "2SAMwlftpoti" If we opt for the last character, including the period, it would then be "8fHehereefrt." Finally, for the first two characters, it'd be "20SmAgMawilofothpeofthin."

According to How Secure Is My Password, a computer would take:

  • 3 THOUSAND years to crack the first password
  • 5 MILLION years to crack the second
  • 408 OCTILLION years to break the last

Pretty good if you ask us!

And if you are wondering what the inspiration behind this article was, check out our Protect PDF tool to put your newly gained knowledge to a good use, and set those strong, unique, and memorable passwords for your files.

Still don’t trust your own memory? We also have an Unlock PDF tool to make your files safe! Lock your PDF and make it read-only to prevent the possibility of it being copied or edited. For extra security, encrypt your PDF to prevent unauthorized access to your file.

Our tool allows you to work on your document easily through a simple drag-and-drop interface. And don’t worry, your files are protected with TLS encryption and removed from our servers after an hour.

Happy creating!


How to set a strong password for your PDF files, with Smallpdf. :)

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Senior Growth Marketing Manager @Smallpdf