Last month, Microsoft announced a new feature called Personal Vault for OneDrive users. Personal Vault is a protected area within OneDrive that can be accessed only with a strong authentication method or a second step of identity verification, such as your fingerprint, face, PIN, or a code sent to you via email or SMS. So, files in the Personal Vault will be protected even when someone gains access to your account or your device.
At that time, Microsoft said the feature will be available for users in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada soon and will roll out globally by the end of the year. Starting today, the company is rolling the feature out to users in various regions around the globe. The rollout is done in phases so it might be a while before everyone gets the new feature. We have a short guide for users who want to set up the new feature on their OneDrive accounts.
Just a reminder, Personal Vault is not just 2-factor authenticated folder inside OneDrive. On Windows 10 PCs, OneDrive syncs your Personal Vault files to a BitLocker-encrypted area of your local hard drive. Personal Vault automatically relocks on your PC, device, or online after 20 minutes or 3 minutes (on mobile) of inactivity. Once locked, you need reauthentication to access the files. The feature is available on all the devices: Android, iOS and Windows.
To set it up, you will first need to go to OneDrive.com. You can also do it using your Windows 10 OneDrive app if you have gotten a notification saying “Personal Vault is available”. The process is more or less the same on both the Windows 10 app and on OneDrive website.
Once you got the notification from Microsoft on your PC or on OneDrive.com, click on Get Started to set up the vault. After that click next on the dialog box and enter your credentials to verify yourself. Do note that Microsoft will ask you to verify using 2-step verification as well so make sure you have your phone nearby. Once done, Microsoft will set up the vault and you will be greeted into the folder.
Once inside, you can move the files from OneDrive into your vault to encrypt them. If you did the setup on OneDrive.com, then you will get suggestions from Microsoft as well. The suggestions include files that Microsoft identified as important like your driver’s license and passport. You can also use the OneDrive mobile app to scan documents directly into the vault which is a handy feature for people who work with confidential files.
On Windows 10 and on the web, you will now see a new folder called “Personal Vault” which will require your credentials to access the files inside the folder. On Windows 10, users can right-click on the OneDrive icon on the taskbar to lock and unlock the drive manually. Same applies to the web as well, with the only difference that you will need to right-click on the vault icon to lock and unlock.
As noted above, Microsoft announced the feature last month and the company also announced a new plan for users which is rolling out today as well. Starting today, Microsoft is increasing the amount of storage in the OneDrive standalone plan from 50 GB to 100 GB for the same $1.99 per month. However, both the announcements from Microsoft are in a phased rollout so it might be a while before everyone gets the Personal Vault as well as the new standalone plan with 100 GB storage.