TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft Kills Off 'My Private Folder' Application

Microsoft Kills Off 'My Private Folder' Application

Mark Hachman (
Fri, 14 Jul 2006 20:19:18 -0500

Mark Hachman - ExtremeTech and Natali Del Conte - PC Magazine

If you've heard of Microsoft Private Folder 1.0, forget it. As of 2:30
p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, it no longer exists.

Microsoft quietly added the free encryption utility earlier this
month, and then just as quietly deleted it. The utility allowed users
to encrypt and store files inside a private folder.

"Private Folder 1.0 was designed as a benefit for customers running
genuine Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a
statement. "However, we received feedback about concerns around
manageability, data recovery and encryption, and based on that
feedback we are removing the application."

While it lasted, the software created a "My Private Folder" on a
user's desktop by installing a Private Folder Service. Inside the
folder, files were apparently encrypted and locked with a password.

The problem was that the password assigned to the folder was binding
so losing or forgetting it locked users out of their data permanently.

"There are lots of passwords out there and with this, if you forget it
then there was no way to get back into it," said the Microsoft

One of the issues that also puzzled consumers was that the feature was
remarkably similar to an existing option, where consumers could
right-click a folder and select a "Sharing and Security" option. That
allowed a user to manually add a password to a folder and protect
users from using it.

Microsoft said that the utility was designed as an "extra" or reward
for installing the WGA service. Other extras included Windows
Defender, an anti-spyware services, which also requires installation
of the WGA service.

Microsoft has no plans to fix or rethink the concerns that caused them
to scrap the program, the spokeswoman said. The company is simply
removing the application with no plans to re-release at a future date.

PCMag Says...

[Editor's Note: This was written when Private Folder was live,
obviously.] I was afraid it would be just a pretty user interface for
one of the many folder-encryption possibilities already present in
Windows. It's more than that - it runs a service in the background to
allow encryption/decryption, and it pushes you to use a strong
password. Looks like you can't change the password ex post facto, so
make it good. I'm not terribly impressed.

Right after I installed the Private Folder service my system slowed to
a crawl, with over 90% of CPU usage devoted to svchost.exe (meaning
*some* service was hogging the CPU). And when I uninstalled it, the
CPU-hogging stopped. Coincidence? -- Neil Rubenking

Copyright 2006 Ziff Davis Inc.

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