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How to use OneDrive Personal Vault. What is it?

OneDrive Personal Vault part of OneDrive storage that adds more security for important files synchronized with cloud storage.

Personal Vault is a part of your OneDrive quota that needs an extra layer of secure login to access. It’s intended as a place for personal or business data storage.

Personal Vault does NOT appear to be the fully encrypted online storage that customers have been asking for, to match Apple’s Advanced Data Protection.  Files saved on Microsoft’s servers are still accessible by the company or government agencies.  Full online encryption saves users files with a strong encryption key known only to the customer.

When and who gets it?

Personal Vault is available to all paid OneDrive users, including Microsoft 365 customers with the included 1TB quota or Microsoft 365 Basic. Free OneDrive account also get Personal Vault, limited to just three files, though there’s a way around that limit.

What is Personal Vault?

It’s a reserved storage space within an existing OneDrive quota.  Files saved in the Personal Vault space need second verification before you can access them on a computer or device.

All OneDrive files on a computer or device are protected by whatever security you have on the device.  Password login, fingerprint, facial identification plus maybe Bitlocker drive protection.

Personal Vault files get all that security PLUS either:

  • What Microsoft describes as a ‘strong authentication method’
  • another verification like a PIN, code sent to you via email/SMS or the Microsoft Authentication app (similar to two-factor authentication). On devices with Windows Hello use your fingerprint or face.

On Windows 11/10 PCs, Personal Vault files are saved to a BitLocker-encrypted area of the local hard drive.

The idea is that Personal Vault files are more secure on your computer/device even if someone get the hardware and manages to access the drive.

Source: Microsoft

Any files can be saved to the Personal Vault including pictures, videos and scanned documents via the OneDrive app.

Microsoft 365 customers could put everything (or almost everything) into the Personal Vault, up to the limit of their online storage.  Though that’s probably too much hassle for most files.  Personal Vault seems intended for more important and private documents.

Source: Microsoft

Open Personal Vault

The Personal Vault doesn’t appear in the Windows folder list. Go to the OneDrive app menu and choose “Unlock Personal Vault”.

Timeout protection

Personal Vault files can’t be left open on your device. After a period of inactivity (configurable) the Personal Vault will be locked up again and you’ll need to reauthenticate to gain access.

Open Personal Vault files will be saved and closed automatically if the inactivity time is reached.

OneDrive for Mac?

OneDrive for Mac: the Personal Vault doesn’t appear to be supported on Mac computers

Apple iPhone, iPad plus Android all support Personal Vault via the OneDrive app.

More about Personal Vault

Beating the Personal Vault limit of 3 files for free OneDrive accounts
OneDrive Personal Vault, deep inside and tricks

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