How to create unique passwords that you’ll never forget

It’s the dirty little secret that we all share.  We all know that we should have unique passwords for each web site we use.  Your bank.  Your Facebook account.  Your PayPal account.  Each should have a different password, but who can remember them all?

What do we end up doing?  Using the same password everywhere.

Sound familiar?

Here’s a trick to give you have a strong, unique passwords on every web site you visit — and you’ll never forget it.


Step 1:  Start with a word that you can remember.  It could be a band name, a place, an object — anything.  Ideally, it should not be something obvious, like your own name, the name of your wife, etc.  Also, make sure at least one of the letters in the word is Upper Case.

For the purposes of our example, we’ll use a band name — Beatles. This is all we need to remember.


Step 2:  Replace the vowels in your word with numbers or symbols.  A password that includes Numbers and Symbols along with Letters is much more secure, and much harder for someone else to guess.

To make sure it’s still easy to remember our password, we’re going to replace the vowels with numbers and symbols that look similar to the letter they’re replacing:

  • The letter a becomes the symbol @ because it looks like an a.
  • The letter A becomes the number 4 because a four looks like a capital A.
  • The letter i becomes the number 1, because a one looks like an i.
  • The letter e becomes the number 3 because a three looks like a backwards capital E.
  • The letter o becomes 0 (zero)
  • I also tend to replace the letter s with the number 5.  It may not be a vowel, but since the two look so similar, it just seemed to make sense.

Using this method, our original word — Beatles — now becomes B3@tl3s.  Now we have a nice, strong Base Password.


Step 3:  Having a strong password is a great start, but it’s not enough.  What we really need is a strong, unique password for each site.  If someone manages to get a hold of our Facebook password, we don’t want them to be able to get in to our PayPal account, right?

So how do we get a unique password for each site?  We incorporate part of the web site name into the password.

Let’s say, for example, that we need a password for a Yahoo account.  Take the first two letters – y and a, and tack them on to your Base Password.  That gives us yaB3@tl3s.  Bingo!  We have a unique password for Yahoo.

Our password for Google would be goB3@tl3s.

Our Amazon password would be amB3@tl3s.


It’s that easy!

You never need to memorize dozens of passwords, just one small word and a simple method for recreating the password.



Updated: [6-7-2011]

CNet brings us this sobering news:  Cheap GPUs are rendering strong passwords useless

Looks like we need even longer and more complex passwords than most experts believed.  My advice?  Shoot for 15 characters.  Instead of using a short word like “Beatles” as your base word use something longer, such as “Ringo Starr” or “Eric Clapton”.  Be creative — it’s dangerous out there!

Updated: [1-20-2014]

SplashData has issued their annual list of the 25 most common passwords found on the Internet. “Password” unseated by “123456” on SplashData’s annual “Worst Passwords” list

If your go-to password is on this list, you’re in trouble…