Have you ever forgotten a password to an online account and in frustration, and a little shame, used the “I forgot my password” link?
The ideal password is an elusive creature. A certain length is necessary, contain a particular combination of characters, and everyone tells you not to use the same password over again, but how are you supposed to remember them all?
I’ve got a system for you. It works, and it creates the ideal password, that you can remember, use over again without security fears, and will satisfy all the requirements. And as a bonus, it is ridiculously simple.
Since we’re discussing domain registration, and hosting accounts, and website building, we need to have a foolproof plan for how we’re going to create and manage good, strong passwords for all these accounts.
What makes a good password?
The first thing we need to get straight are the requirements. What are the essential elements of an ideal password?
The memorable password
If you can’t remember the password, it does you no good. We don’t want to use that shameful forgotten password link again if we can help it, and we aren’t supposed to write these passwords down, so we need something memorable.
When setting up your own website, you’re going to have at least three passwords to keep up with, maybe more. A couple of those you’ll use a lot at in the beginning as you’re setting things up, but then you won’t need them very often after that. But a year from now when you need to renew your domain registration, you might need it. Sure, you set it to auto renew, but your credit card number or expiration date has changed and you need to update the account. Let’s make sure you can remember that password!
The unique password
A big “no no” in cyber security is using the same password for more than one account. If a hacker did manage to figure out your password, they’d have the run of all your accounts.
A study done in 2013 showed that more than half of the internet users surveyed, used the same password for most or all of their online accounts. This is a huge security risk.
So we’re going to need at least three unique passwords that we can easily remember a year from now. I know it sounds daunting, but don’t worry, I’ve got a solution for you. Keep reading.
The secure password
This is where things get technical. Different sites and services will start bombarding you with technical requirements for a password when you’re setting up an account. Upper and lowercase letters, numbers, special characters, at least this many characters long, these are requirements that you should satisfy even if not required. They’ll make your accounts much more secure.
Here are a few of the requirements that are common and good practice.
Create a password that:
- is at least 8, preferably 12 or more, characters long
- contains at least one upper case letter
- contains at least one lower case letter
- contains at least 1 number
- contains at least one symbol (special character)
- contains no complete dictionary words
One note on the special characters. Not all systems accept the same special characters. This can prove a bit frustrating at times, so I suggest you stick with the most commonly accepted ones, and avoid commonly disallowed special characters (scroll to the bottom of the linked page).
A system for creating the ideal password
With these pointers in mind, let me share a system that will satisfy all these requirements. It will create secure, unique, and memorable passwords. I learned this from an article I read online a long time ago, which I can’t find now, but it is simple and effective.
Many websites, including a couple I’ve linked to in this article, will recommend that you find a phrase that only you know, that is unique, and then use some combination of the first or last letters of each word, substituting numbers and symbols where appropriate, to create a password. This works. It is secure and memorable (maybe), but it’s not unique. You’ll need multiple passwords, and then they won’t be memorable anymore.
But let’s start with that idea and tweak it a bit. I suggest you choose a line from a book or song that you will absolutely remember. Let’s say you choose the following line from the Bill Monroe song, Blue Moon Of Kentucky.
Shine on the one that’s gone and left me blue
Now, we take the first letter of each word. Let’s capitalize the “B” in blue, since it’s a key word, and we end up with this,
That’s a good start. It’s 10 characters long and contains seemingly random characters both capital and lower case letters. But we’re not done. We need some numbers. This can go two ways. You could simply use the time signature of the song, but this will often give you the same number twice, 44, for example. I prefer to use the verse and line number. In this case, 14. Let’s add that to the beginning of the password for this combination.
Now, we’ve got a password that meets most of two requirements. It is memorable, because all we have to remember is the song. Sing it to yourself and type in the first letter of each word as you sing. And it is 12 characters long. It lacks special characters and uniqueness, but that’s next.
By the way, you could do this same thing with a line from a book, using the page number. Or a favorite bible verse and reference. You get the idea.
Now let’s take this password, add special characters and make it unique, while still be memorable, for every website or service you’ll need a password for.
Choose a special character that is widely accepted. Since we’re singing about the moon, which is up above us, let’s use the carrot symbol, which looks like a little arrow pointing up, ^. You’ll find it hanging out above the 6 on your keyboard, shift 6 should get it for you. Now we add this symbol to the beginning and the end of our password, like this.
Now we’re really getting somewhere. It is memorable and secure, but it is not unique. Let’s make it so. This is so simple and incredibly effective.
Simply add characters to this from the website you need to create a password for. Alway use the same set of characters. You could use the last three characters places before your formula. Or, you could use the second, third, and fourth characters placed after your formula. Or any combination, as long as you do it the same way every time, for every website. And that becomes your password formula.
So let’s say you want to use the last three characters before, and the first character after. Here’s what happens with your password.
A domain registration account at NameCheap.com becomes:
Your hosting account password at Bluehost.com becomes:
Your password at Facebook.com becomes:
And on and on it goes. Unique, secure, and memorable passwords. All you have to remember is the formula, and you can remember every password you use. When you come back to NameCheap.com a year later to update your billing info, you can easily remember the password, it’s just the formula with the site name plugged into it.
Figure out a formula that works for you, that you’ll remember easily. Then get to work setting up your website without fear of your password being hacked or forgotten.
So there you have it, passwords that are memorable, unique, and secure.Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. We receive compensation from these companies, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. We test each product and service thoroughly and only recommend products we use and/or believe to be of value to our readers. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.