Microsoft OneDrive users will find a little something extra in the cloud today, with the announcement of the worldwide availability of the Personal Vault feature for OneDrive. The new feature carves out a protected area in OneDrive that requires additional authentication for access.
The new feature works with the consumer version of OneDrive and Office 365 Home and Personal editions. It's not available in OneDrive for Business.
The Personal Vault folder sits in OneDrive along other folders but is distinguished by an icon that resembles an old fashioned bank vault.
Opening that folder from any device requires a second form of verification, such as biometric authentication or an SMS-based code. The goal is to segregate sensitive files and photos from casual snoops, so even if you leave your PC unlocked, those files will remain protected from prying eyes.
What types of files? The suggested list includes passports and driver's licenses, tax records, insurance documents, financial records, and any other document whose physical equivalent you would consider putting in a secure location such as a locked file cabinet or even a safety deposit box. You can add subfolders to the Protected Vault folder.
On Windows 10 devices, files that are stored in Personal Vault are synced by default to Bitlocker-encrypted locations. For additional security, sharing is disabled by default on files that are stored there, and the vault locks automatically after 20 minutes (if that interval seems too long, you can change it from OneDrive settings).
On mobile devices, you can use the OneDrive app to scan documents or shoot photos and store them directly in the Personal Vault, bypassing less secure temporary storage such as the Camera Roll.
On mobile devices, the default lock time is three minutes, and you're prompted to create a six-digit PIN for access to the Personal Vault's contents.
If you're working with a free OneDrive account or one that's been updated to the new standalone 100 GB plans, prepare to be disappointed. You can store a maximum of three files in Personal Vault. To remove those limits, you'll need an Office 365 Personal or Home subscription.