How to create a complicated yet memorable password

Concept art representing cybersecurity principles
(Image credit: Shutterstock / ZinetroN)

Passwords present us with a very real headache, in that we all need them but coming up with one, or many, that’ll keep us safe and secure really isn’t all that easy. In fact, unless you’re happy to use the same one over and over again, which is definitely a bad idea, coming up with rock-solid passwords for all those log-ins requires some help.

The best way around the issue of handling multiple passwords is, without doubt, calling on the services of the best password managers out there. These are standalone apps that can not only generate dependable passwords, but also keep them all secure in a vault-like setup. You’ll generally need to pay for the privilege if you want something that’s really good, but that’s a small price for convenience and security, right?

A great example of this is pCloud Pass, which allows you to keep all of your passwords for accessing every one of your devices within a secure environment. There’s the added benefit of military-grade encryption too, which is rather more robust than some of the plain text formats used by some lesser password managers. Better still, it offers single-click logging in and works across all devices, browsers and operating systems too.


Secure access to all your passwords on all devices

Secure access to all your passwords on all devices
With pCloud Pass, you can log in to sites and fill out forms securely with just a single click. Available for all browsers, devices and operating systems. Start for free today.

Complex secure passwords

So, if you’re looking for an easy way to take control of your passwords, and most of us have lots of them to wrangle, a password manager is the way to go. However, many password managers work by having one main password that keeps all your other ones safe. While a dependable password manager can therefore do a lot of the hard work for you, it’s still vital to come up with a complicated yet memorable password for when that issue arises.

Creating a bulletproof password, which can subsequently be used as your master, needs some careful thought and consideration to implement. There are random password generators that can be called upon if you want to have a decent password, but the only problem with many of these is that you end up with something very cryptic and not at all memorable.

If you’ve got something that is lost from your memory right away, then you’re going to have lots of problems getting into your password manager in the first place.

Smart thinking passwords

One of the best ways to approach the construction of your impregnable yet memorable password is to ensure you’re thinking long. Eight characters is often seen as a good ballpark figure for the average password, but if you’re looking for security then average isn’t the way to go.

You want something longer, so a figure of around fifteen characters is a good amount of characters to head for. Each time you add in a character you’re going to make the task of cracking it that little bit harder, especially when it comes to fending off brute-force attacks.

Of course, the downside to this is ensuring that by creating a longer password you’re not immediately going to make it harder to remember for your own requirements. One of the most common methods for making the task of creating a complicated yet memorable password is to make one up based around a song or a famous quote.

In fact, you can work with anything that’s familiar, like a poem maybe. The key from there is to blend that with lots of hard to crack padding.

Create password perfection

Once you have a song, poem or phrase in your head, one that you’re super familiar with, you’ve got the foundations for creating a potent password. Let’s use For Those About To Rock as a random song title as a loose example, which can be quickly converted into f t a t r , which if you then add We Salute You, you get f t a t r w s y.

Mix in some upper and lower case characters, making it F t A t R w S y with some special characters added for good measure. You could end up with something like F t A t R@w S y keeping the spaces too, or filling those in with characters you can remember.

Whichever combination you use, just be sure to keep the way you’ve thought of it in your head as this is much easier than trying to remember the password itself. It’s also a good idea to put the password into a reputable checker, somewhere like as a random example, which will immediately tell you if it’s a good one.

This method also indicates if it already appears in a list of leaked passwords. As long as you can keep the way you’ve created the password in your head you shouldn’t have any problems using it as a master. You can also use the same thought process to update it from time to time, using another song or poem for good measure.

Remaining vigilant

Creating one master password can be a daunting, but if you make use of fairly simplistic thought processes to come up with what inspires it, the process can be simpler than expected. You may find that your particular password manager might not support spaces, in which case you can just substitute those with something else, like a hyphen, or the = character and, ideally, remember to avoid using the shift key.

If none if that appeals, you can always head in the direction of a passphrase, which is effectively a bundle of unrelated words, that can often be quite easy to memorize. In fact, if you’d prefer to have it done for you there are numerous passphrase generators that can be found online. If your memory isn’t very good, this might be the route to take as a passphrase can be easier to recall, but is also hard to crack.

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Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.