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How to Create a Strong Password the Old-School Way

by Hung Nguyen

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

Creating a strong, secured and memorable password is not difficult. Follow our guide to do so at the snap of a finger.

It's not that difficult to set a secure and robust password these days. Mobile phones now allow you to enter six-digit passwords, or to customer them with alphanumeric combinations. For online portals, you can use password managers (we are still debating on whether Dashlane or LastPass is the superior tool in our office) 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 are not memorable.

  2. These services may not be available at times.

strong password 1

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

For the ladder, 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! The downside is, you need to remember it. As such, 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 things are great, but not for passwords

For a strong password, make sure that it is at least 10 characters in length. Also, include numbers, capital, and lower case letters, and of course, symbols.

Don't reuse a password

This is a no-no. Don't expose threats to a pay-one-get-all buffet.

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. Furthermore, these words may still be relatively common, and are hard to remember as well!

Don't use your personal information

Don't use your date of birth. Don't use your parents/siblings/cousins/long distant cousins/best friend/cat's date of birth either. If you must, use something that no one else knows, such as the date that you last moved. Furthermore, make sure that it's apart of a longer chain, and that the keywords and numbers are not related.

Don't use common substitutes

We're no longer in the early 2000s. Don't replace your o's with 0's, and l's with capitalized i's. We mean it! A strong password back in the days is weak nowadays.

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 niffty!

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 no-one would knows. 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:

2018 Smallpdf GmbH - Made with ♥ for the people of the internet.

Taking the first character of each word, the password formed would be "2SGMwlftpoti"

If we opt for the last character, including the period, it would then be "8fHehereefrt."

Finally, for the first two characters, it'd be "20SmGmMawilofothpeofthin."

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 that strong but unique and memorable password for your files.

Happy creating.

encrypt pdf file with smallpdf

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

Hung Nguyen
Hung Nguyen
Content Marketing Manager @Smallpdf