Microsoft announced today that the OneDrive Personal Vault security feature is now available for all OneDrive consumer accounts worldwide. Personal Vault, first announced in June, offers a more secure storage folder for your OneDrive account that is protected by a second layer of identity verification, such as a fingerprint, pin code, or a code sent to you via SMS or a mobile authenticator app. Initially, Personal Vault was only available to OneDrive users in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But the global rollout starts today.
To access this storage area, you must verify your identity every time, even if you are already signed in to your main OneDrive account using two-factor authentication (2FA). It may be useful to use a different style of 2FA for Personal Vault than you use for OneDrive, in case your mobile SIM is hacked or someone has compromised your PIN or email address.
Microsoft suggests that you can use the Personal Vault to back up sensitive documents in the event that your main account is compromised, such as a copy of your passport or sensitive financial information such as tax returns. With Microsoft you can also scan documents from the mobile OneDrive app and save them directly in the personal safe.
These documents have extra security than just 2FA – the personal safe is also locked automatically after a period of inactivity and Microsoft says that if you use OneDrive on a Windows 10 PC, your personal safe will be synchronized with a BitLocker-coded area of your hard disk.
In my own short tests, the personal safe seems to work as advertised. When I logged into my OneDrive account through a browser, OneDrive asked me to try out the personal safe. After I verified myself, I was able to upload files as I normally would to OneDrive. The process seems pretty painless and it sounds handy for those who want an extra layer of security for their accounts.
Microsoft also announced today that OneDrive can automatically back up your desktop, documents, or image folder to your OneDrive on Windows 7, 8 or 10. If you choose to do that, you must be able to access those folders from any device with OneDrive. This feature sounds similar to how iCloud Drive can automatically back up your desktop and document folders from Finder.