I want to encrypt a file and be able to decrypt/encrypt it again only for me to use that file.

If I use a key pair to encrypt the file, then I need to move the key files around to new devices if I want to decrypt it there. But that is not very convinient, and if only I am going to use the file, it is nescessary to have a key pair then, or is it enough to just use gpg --symmetric file.example and make the file only ask for a password and not requiring key files as well?

Summary: Is it recommended to encrypt a file with gpg --symmetric so that decrypting the file only requires the correct password to be provided if only one person(me) is going to use it? Compared to creating a key pair and using the key pair to encrypt/decrypt, in which case I will have to have the key files with me if I want to decrypt on a different device.

  • I do that all the time. Just use a long enough passphrase (80 bits should do it, which means about 7 diceware words if I recall, or if you're using random printable characters about 12-13 characters. More than that is fine, but 80 bits is plenty unless you're being specifically targeted by some nation-state :)
    – user1003916
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


Using a passphrase is fine. GPG contains outdated crypto and can be misused, I'd suggest age as a better option.

  • Thanks for answer, what do you mean with being misused?
    – Grass
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 20:52
  • You can specify using insecure ciphers with it. Age doesn't let you do that by simply only including secure methods. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 20:54
  • Okey, but the default cipher used in gnupg 2.1 is AES-128, so if I use the default, then it should be secure?
    – Grass
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 10:47
  • As long as you pick a secure enough passphrase (10 diceware words is enough), yes. And preferably sign the files after encrypting as well if you're going to upload any of them to cloud backup servers. Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 22:40

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