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Windows 10 fall update will restore (and improve) OneDrive’s best feature

Feature restores and improves upon the way OneDrive worked in Windows 8.1.

Microsoft will cut OneDrive and Skype access to standalone Office users

When Microsoft launched Office 365 in 2010, Microsoft officials said then that customers were asking to move to the cloud.

Beginning in 2020, some Office customers will need to buy an Office 365 subscription to do so.In an update to Microsoft’s Office 365 system requirements released today, Microsoft said that consumers who have already purchased “perpetual”—i.e., standalone—versions of Office, such as Office 2010, Office 2013, and Office 2016, would be cut off from accessing the business versions of OneDrive and Skype after mainstream support expires.

Those who have purchased those Office suites will be allowed to connect until Oct. 13, 2020—the day mainstream support ends for Office 2016, and the day the new support policy kicks in. To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Office 365’s deskless worker package expands with new features

Microsoft is adding new capabilities to one of its cheapest enterprise plans for Office 365, in a push to capture a group of users traditionally underserved by the productivity suite.New to the Office 365 Enterprise K1 plan (the K stands for Kiosk) now includes 2GB of OneDrive for Business storage, along with access to Microsoft Teams, PowerApps and Flow. Users on the plan also get the ability to send instant messages using Skype for Business and participate in video meetings conducted over Skype Meeting Broadcast.[ Office 365 vs.

Google G Suite: Productivity smackdown • Collaboration smackdown • Management smackdown. | Our guide to Exchange-based tools in Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android: Desktop Outlook vs. mobile Outlook vs. native apps. ]
Expanding the capabilities of this plan is part of Microsoft’s continued push to make Office 365 useful for employees who don’t spend all day in front of a computer.

All of these capabilities are designed for people like retail employees and service workers.

The K1 plan is also priced at $4 per user per month, drastically lower than the company’s other enterprise subscriptions.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

38% off Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 2TB Portable External Hard...

The Backup Plus Ultra Slim Portable Drive is one of Seagate's thinnest and most eye-catching portable hard drives.

Available in stunning gold and platinum colors- style meets storage- and easily slips into your backpack along with your other essentials.

At 9.6mm thin, capacity is not sacrificed with 1TB and 2TB options-bring your most important files and head out the door.

Back up and manage your favorite files from your computer, tablet and mobile devices using the Seagate Dashboard. Run a one-click backup or schedule an automatic backup plan to help protect your files.

Convenient tools for local, mobile, cloud and social media backup at the ready. With high-speed USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity, you can depend on seamless plug-and-play functionality.

And the USB bus-power eliminates the need for an external power supply, letting you access your files while on the move.

The Lyve mobile and desktop app gives you the ability to access a single, consolidated and personalized photo and video library. When you purchase a Backup Plus Ultra Slim Portable Drive, you get 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage for 2 years (US$95 value).   The Backup Plus Portable Drive averages 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon (read reviews).
It's typical list price of $129.99 has been reduced 38% to $79.99 on Amazon.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

OneDrive’s missing smart files found in Google Drive

If you’ve been using Microsoft’s OneDrive online storage for a few years, you likely remember “smart files,” aka placeholders.
It was one of the few features—arguably the only—that made Windows 8 tolerable.
Smart files let you see all your OneDrive files and folders in the Windows File Explorer, but not have to actually sync them to your PC.

Those offline files would "stream" to your PC only when you tried to open them.

Thus, you could save space on your PC while still accessing the rest of your files in OneDrive as needed. The technology is easy to describe, but apparently hard for Microsoft to implement in Windows 10.[ The cloud storage security gap—and how to close it. | The InfoWorld Deep Dive: How to make document sharing really work in Office 365. | Put to the test: Office 365 vs.

Google G Suite productivity smackdown. ]
Two years ago, Microsoft released a beta test version of Windows 10 that didn’t support smart files. Windows 10 still doesn’t have this capability despite the continued customer angst. Microsoft says it is coming back—one day.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Microsoft Graph: The APIs to Office 365’s hidden riches

Microsoft Graph, a collection of APIs that link into many of Microsoft's core services, is under the hood of several of the newer Office 365 services.
It's a powerful tool that simplifies working with Microsoft's numerous cloud services, including A...

Smackdown: Office 365 vs. G Suite productivity

Google has been trying for years to get businesses to abandon Microsoft Office in favor of what it now calls G Suite, the collaboration-oriented trio of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, plus companion apps Gmail and Drive. Microsoft has long been the ...

Untangle OneDrive and SharePoint integration in Office 365

The good news: Microsoft has finally brought SharePoint file synchronization to OneDrive.

The bad news: Some details may confuse you and your users about how it all works. Businesses have very different approaches to data sharing among users: Some love the idea of a single portal to shared files, while others hate it. Plus, SharePoint can be more than a project file repository (it’s also meant to support discussions and workflow via project websites), and other value becomes invisible when accessed via OneDrive.[ The cloud storage security gap—and how to close it. | How to make document sharing really work in Office 365. ] Microsoft’s goal is to consolidate its various file managers into one, says Seth Patton, Microsoft’s general manager for OneDrive and SharePoint.

That way, OneDrive and SharePoint stores are treated the same as network and local drives for both the operating system and applications.

That’s exactly the right goal.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Mobile is still the safest place for your data

When I talk to IT managers, I almost always hear fears of mobile devices as conduits for sensitive corporate data to leave the company.
I don’t know why I keep hearing this.

There’s simply no evidence to support this fear.
In fact, there’s solid evidence that says mobile devices are not a significant—or even moderate—risk factor. Every year, I check the Identity Theft Resource Center’s database of personally identifying information (PII) breaches, which require disclosure by both state and federal laws.
I’m sure many losses go unreported, and the database doesn’t cover corporate information not containing PII.

But if mobile devices were a conduit to data loss, they should show up in this database. Mobile-linked breaches haven’t shown up in previous years, and they didn’t show up again in 2016—despite the fact that nearly everyone these days uses a smartphone. What does show up? Paper records, thumb drives, external hard drives, laptops, hacks into databases and storage systems, and successful phishing attempts. Many of the reported breaches involve lost papers, drives, and laptops, where a data thief probably wasn’t involved.

But many involve active hacking of IT systems where data theft is the goal.

And some involve insiders (contractors and ex-employees) steal data to use themselves, bring to new employers, or—least often—sell to others. None of the lost, stolen, or compromised devices were smartphones or tablets.

That’s probably because encrypted devices need not be reported; they’re presumed safe. iPhones and iPads have long encrypted their contents, and professional-grade Android devices have done that in recent years.
In both cases, a simple IT policy can enforce that encryption.
It doesn’t take a fancy mobile security tool; Microsoft Exchange can do the trick. Well, there was one data breach involving a smartphone: A former hospital manager, after resigning, took patient-identifying information by forwarding certain documents such as patient lists to her personal email account.
She had work email set up on her personal smartphone—a common BYOD scenario—and simply forwarded the work emails to her personal email account.

That’s not a mobile-specific issue—she could have done that from a work computer or a home computer. IT’s remedy for this case is the same no matter the device running the email app: Use restricted email accounts where possible and data loss prevention (DLP) tools where not to identify and perhaps prevent such odd email usage.

And don’t distribute PII or other sensitive information in routine documents in the first place! Also not in the breach list were the cloud storage services that IT managers fret about after they’re done worrying about mobile devices: Apple iCloud Drive, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. But that omission may be misleading because if a lost (unencrypted) laptop has stored the access credentials for such services—which is common—then the data on that cloud drive is available to a data thief, just as the locally stored data is.

The Identity Theft Resource Center database doesn’t go into great detail of each case, but because a lost (unencrypted) laptop is presumed to be a data breach, that breach extends to any data on that laptop, including cloud-accessed data. Still, we didn’t see cases of these popular cloud storage services as the specific vector of a data breach—despite frequent IT fears to the contrary. In this day and age, IT pros have plenty of security threats to deal with.

Active hacking is the biggest threat, of course, and should get the lion’s share of the resources. The client side should be addressed but not dwelled on. Of the clients in use, mobile is the least risky.

Based on the actual risks, a good place to start is securing laptops, then external drives that people use when they don’t have access to a corporate cloud storage service.

Those devices compromise the biggest client risk.

Encryption is your main line of defense for these devices—for cloud storage, too. For the much smaller risk posed by mobile devices, mobile management tools are both mature and effective; there’s no excuse not to have them in place already.

Vera to Help Protect Office 365 Files Across Various Platforms

Working with an installation base that numbers more than 85 million, 3-year-old Vera may soon be a little-known company no longer. Relatively unknown security software provider Vera soon will be enabling Microsoft customers to automatically protect every file created in Office 365 and stored in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business.Working with an installation base that numbers more than 85 million, 3-year-old Vera may soon be a little-known company no longer. Office 365 officially now is Microsoft's best-selling office-productivity product in the history of the company.With this new integration, which becomes available this month, Vera will be the only content-agnostic security package that provides zero-click, data-centric security, access control, and audit that works across every major cloud-based and on-premises collaboration and storage platforms—including Microsoft, Box, and Dropbox.This is because the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has built key business relationships during its startup years and is now putting them into action. Automates Security Across Platforms More than 85 million users rely on Microsoft Office 365 every month to create and share files in OneDrive and SharePoint, but many enterprises still lack the most basic tools to monitor, track, and control how data is used as it moves through the cloud, Vera said.

Gartner Research recently predicted that in the next two years more than 40 percent of Office 365 deployments will require these capabilities. In contrast to Microsoft's limited security features, Vera automates data security across OneDrive and SharePoint, ensures that permissions remain with files regardless of how they're shared, and enables seamless external collaboration without requiring proprietary software installs, the company said.The 3-year-old startup, whose product went GA (general availability) in April 2015, literally breaks down IT security to its most basic component: the protection of each file individually by putting it into a secure wrapper. No matter where the file goes, it cannot be viewed by a hacker inside any IT system without the key for the file.Yet, Vera is not exclusively about protecting individual files; the software provides a way for users to protect all their digital content wherever it is moved. Key features in Vera for Microsoft include the ability to: --Automate security in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. Automatically encrypt, track and control access to content uploaded to OneDrive and SharePoint, with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Security teams can use Vera's smart policy engine to create custom rules to grant access to Active Directory or SharePoint Groups, enable secure external collaboration, and enforce usage policies for classified content. --Protect any content, anywhere, across platforms. As a content-agnostic platform, Vera secures any type of file with zero friction to end-users or forced proprietary plug-ins.
Vera's dynamic data protection ensures confidential content remains protected through its entire life cycle and gives security teams the tools to audit and revoke access rights at the click of a button, even after content is downloaded to a local device. --Secure and prevent data loss in all Office file types, including Visio.
Vera now provides full dynamic data protection for Visio files, giving businesses the ability to prevent data loss from sensitive workflow, process, and operational diagrams. Unlike the Microsoft Azure Information Protection suite, which only protects static, PDF-based versions of these documents, Vera allows organizations to dynamically control editing, copy/paste, printing, watermarking, and even restrict screenshots of these files, in real-time.Vera, which means "truth" in Latin and is the core of the term "verify," ostensibly is providing a promising new data- and file-centric security that may be able to succeed where conventional IT network security leaves off, CEO and founder Ajay Arora told eWEEK.Vera has experienced solid growth since its launch, adding more than 300,000 users at Fortune 500 companies in the financial services, media and entertainment, manufacturing, and technology sectors.Vera also has partnered with industry leaders, such as Dropbox, Okta, and Centrify, and announced strategic integrations with Box and VMware within the last 18 months.A public preview of the Vera for Microsoft integration is currently available to Vera customers, and these integrations will be made generally available early in 2017.To schedule a demo or for more information on Vera's integration with Office 365, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint, go here.

Steganos Safe 18

Having your laptop stolen is traumatic; having the thief gain access to your sensitive documents could be catastrophic.

To avert the possibility of catastrophe, use an encryption tool to protect your most important files. With Steganos Safe 18, you can create any number of encrypted storage containers.
Steganos combines an impressive variety of security options with an interface that's very easy to use.

Your $39.95 purchase lets you install Steganos Safe on up to five PCs.

This is a one-time cost, which is a common model for encryption tools.

Editors' Choice utility Folder Lock also costs $39.95, and Ranquel Technologies CryptoForge goes for $39.70. You'll pay $45 for Cypherix PC, and $59.95 for CryptoExpert. Note, though, that those are single licenses.

The five-license Steganos package is quite a bargain.

In addition to being available a standalone product, Steganos Safe is an integral part of the full Steganos Privacy Suite.

This suite also includes Steganos Password Manager 18 and a number of other useful tools.

What Is Encryption?

Throughout history, rulers and generals have needed to communicate their plans in secret, and their enemies have devoted great resources to cracking their secret communication systems.

A cipher that simply replaces every letter with a different letter or symbol is easy enough to crack based on letter frequency.

France's Louis XIV used a system called The Great Cipher, which held out for 200 years before anyone cracked it.

Father-son team Antoine and Bonaventure Rossignol conceived the idea of encoding syllables rather than letters, and letting multiple code numbers represent the same syllable.

They also included nulls, numbers that contributed nothing to the cipher.

But even this long-unbroken cipher pales in comparison with modern encryption technology.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the US government's official standard, runs blocks of data through multiple transformations, typically using a 256-bit key.

Bruce Schneier's Blowfish algorithm should be even tougher to crack, as it uses a 448-byte key.

Whatever the size of the key, you must get it to the recipient somehow, and that process is the weakest point in the system.
If your enemy obtains the key, whatever its size, you lose. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography has no such weakness.

Each user has two keys, a public key that's visible to anybody and a private key that nobody else has.
If I encrypt a file with your public key, you can decrypt it with the private key.

Conversely, if I encrypt a file with my private key, the fact that you can decrypt it with my public key proves it came from me—a digital signature.

Getting Started with Steganos Safe

The Steganos encryption utility's installation is quick and simple. Once finished, it shows you a simple main window that has two big buttons, one to create a new safe and one to open a hidden safe.

When a safe is open, it looks and acts precisely like a disk drive. You can move files into and out of it, create new documents, edit documents in place, and so on.

But once you close the safe, its contents become totally inaccessible. Nobody can unlock it without the password, not even Steganos.

Like Editors' Choice tools CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box, AxCrypt, and Folder Lock, Steganos uses AES for all encryption. However, it cranks the key size up from the usual 256 bits to 384 bits.

CryptoExpert and CryptoForge offer four different algorithms, and Advanced Encryption Package goes over the top with 17 choices.

Few users have the knowledge to make an informed choice of algorithm, so I see no problem sticking with AES.

Steganos warns if you try to close a safe while you still have files from the safe open for editing.
In addition to the basic safe, Steganos can optionally create portable safes and cloud safes.
I'll cover each safe type separately.

Create a Safe

The process of creating a new safe for storing your sensitive documents is quite simple, with a wizard that walks you through the steps. You start by assigning a name and drive letter to the safe—the program's main window shows you the name.

By default, Steganos creates the file representing your safe in a subfolder of the Documents folder, but you can override that default to put it wherever you want, including on a network drive.

Next, you define the safe's capacity, from a minimum of 2MB to a maximum that depends on your operating system. Unlike Cypherix PE and CryptoExpert, with Steganos the initial capacity doesn't have to be a hard limit. You can create a safe whose size grows dynamically.

Folder Lock works a bit differently. While you must set a maximum size at creation, it only uses as much space as its current content requires.

A newly created Cypherix volume requires formatting. With Steganos, the safe is ready for use immediately.

The next step is to select a password.
If you've created a master password for
Steganos Password Manager, the password dialog should look familiar.
Steganos rates password strength as you type.
If you wish, you can define the password by clicking a sequence of pictures rather than typing it in.

There's also an option to enter the password using a virtual keyboard.

Folder Lock and InterCrypto Advanced Encryption Package 2016 also offer a virtual keyboard.

Here's a useful option. You can choose to store the password on a removable drive, making that drive effectively the safe's key.

By default, a safe opened in this way closes automatically when you remove the key.
It's not two-factor authentication, as you can still unlock the safe using just the password, but it's certainly convenient.
In a similar situation, you can configure InterCrypto CryptoExpert 8 to require both the master password and the USB key.

Digging into the program's settings, you can simplify the process by disabling advanced wizard options.
If you do so, Steganos chooses default values for each new safe's drive letter and filename.

There's a special option that only appears for safes smaller than 3MB.
If you've chosen an acceptable size, a link appears explaining how you can create a hidden safe.
Steganos can hide a small-enough safe inside a video, audio, or executable file.

After creating the safe, you click it, choose Hide from the menu, and select a carrier file.
Steganos stuffs the entire safe into the carrier, without affecting the carrier's ability to function as a program or audio/video file.

To open it, you click Open a Hidden Safe on the main window, select the carrier, and enter the password. Just don't forget where you hid the safe.

Portable Safes

For additional security, consider creating a portable safe that you only bring out when you need to access it.

The process is similar. You start by selecting the target device, which can be a USB storage device or an optical drive. You define the size and create a password, just as for a regular safe.

But then the process diverges.

Steganos creates and opens what it calls a prepackaging drive, using the drive letter of your choice.
Showing its age, the tool warns that portable safes don't support Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 95/98/Me. You click to open the prepackaging drive and drag the desired files into it. When you click Next, Steganos creates the necessary files on the target device. You're done!

If the size of the portable safe is less than about 512MB, Steganos creates what it calls a SelfSafe by default.

As with the hidden option for regular safes, you won't even see this as a choice if your desired size is too large.

The SelfSafe is a single executable file called SteganosPortableSafe.exe that contains both the necessary decryption code and the data representing the safe's contents. Otherwise, it stores the contents in a folder called Portable_Safe and adds a file called usbstarter.exe.

Either way, launching the file lets you enter the password and open the portable safe.

In testing, I did run into one surprise; a portable safe is not completely portable.
It requires the Steganos encryption engine. You can only open and work with your portable safe on a PC where you've installed the program.

Cloud Safes

As noted, you can open a portable safe on any PC where you've installed Steganos Safe.

Creating a cloud safe is another way to share your encrypted files between PCs.
Steganos supports the cloud storage services Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. Whichever you choose, you must install that cloud service's desktop app.

The help points out that Google Drive and OneDrive must re-sync the entire safe when there's any change, while DropBox can selectively sync changes only.

My test PC didn't have any of the desktop apps installed, and the cloud safe creation dialog reflected this fact.

For testing purposes, I installed the Dropbox app.

As with a regular safe, you select a name and drive letter and then choose the safe's size.

For a cloud safe, you don't get the option to have the safe expand as needed.

Create your password, wait for the safe's initialization, and you're ready to go.

The safe syncs to the cloud each time you close it, and you can use it on any PC that has both Steganos and the proper cloud app installed.

Advanced Features

Click a safe and click Settings to bring up the administration dialog. Here you can change the password, name, and file location for the safe, but that's not all. On the main page of the dialog you can color-code the safe, and choose whether Windows should see it as a local drive or a removable drive. On the Events tab, you can choose whether to open the safe when you log on, and whether to close it on events such as screen saver activation or going into standby.

There's an option to define an action that occurs after the safe opens, and after it closes.

For example, you could configure it to automatically launch a file that resides within the safe after opening it, or automatically make a backup copy after closing it.

Perhaps most interesting is the Safe in a Safe feature.

This defines a separate safe, hidden within the normal safe, occupying a user-defined percentage of available space, and having its own password.

Depending on which password you use to open the safe, you either open the Safe in a Safe, or the original safe that contains it.
Sneaky! But take care.
If you overfill the outer safe, its contents can wipe out the super-secret Safe in a Safe.

Steganos Shredder

It's all well and good to put your most sensitive files into an encrypted safe, but if you leave the unencrypted originals on disk, you haven't accomplished much, security-wise.

Even if you delete the originals, they're not really gone, because their data remains on disk until new data overwrites it.

For true privacy, you must use a secure deletion tool that overwrites file data before deletion, something like this program's file-shredder component.

The easiest way to use the shredder is to right-click a file or folder and choose Destroy from the menu that appears.
Steganos overwrites the file's data once and then deletes it.

This should be sufficient to foil software-based file recovery systems, though it would still be theoretically possible for a hardware-based forensic tool to get back some or all of the data.

Folder Lock, by contrast, lets you choose up to 35 overwrite passes, which is overkill, as there's no added benefit after seven passes.

Launching the full File Shredder from the main window's menu reveals that it does more than just securely delete files.

As with Folder Lock, Steganos can overwrite all the free space on a disk.

Doing so wipes out all traces of previously deleted files, in effect shredding them ex post facto.

This can be a lengthy process, so you may want to use the scheduler to set it for a time when you're not using the computer. You can also schedule daily or weekly free space shredding. Note that if you stop and restart the free space shredding process, it skips quickly past previously shredded areas.

Finally, there's the Complete Shredder nuclear option.

Choose this to completely wipe out all data on a drive, including partition data.

A drive that's been shredded in this way must be formatted before you can do anything with it. Like shredding free space, this process can take quite a while.

By observation, you can't shred the active Windows volume, which makes sense. When I tried, there was no error message, but it did nothing.

Comprehensive Encrypted Storage

Steganos Safe 18 focuses on the singular task of creating encrypted storage containers for your sensitive files, and it does that task very well.
It's easier to use than most of its competitors, and its Safe in Safe and hidden safe options are unique. You can only use its portable safe and cloud safe features on PCs that have the program installed, but your purchase gets you five licenses.

However, Folder Lock does most of what Steganos does, and quite a lot more.
It features include encryption of individual files and folders, secure storage of private data, a history cleaner, and (at an extra cost) secure online backup.

AxCrypt Premium is even easier to use than Steganos, and supports public key cryptography.

And CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box protects your cloud-stored encrypted files against any possibility of a data breach.

These three are our Editors' Choice products for encryption, but Steganos is a worthy contender.

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