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How should we use Microsoft's Personal Storage Manager power tool?

Microsoft pulled its Personal Storage Manager power tool at the last minute. In this Ask the Expert Q&A Identity Management and Access Control expert Joel Dubin addresses Microsoft's growing interest in encryption and explains the risks of using withdrawn programs.

Microsoft recently released a power tool called Microsoft Personal Storage Manager, which was supposed to offer extensive file and folder password protection or encryption. Then within days it was withdrawn. I saved it as an MSPSMgr.APPLICATION, but I don't know what to do with it. Do you have any suggestions?
As part of Microsoft's efforts to beef up security, it has shown interest in different technologies and ways to encrypt files, folders and mobile storage devices like USB keys. Microsoft Personal Storage Manager fell into this category. However, since I am not a Microsoft employee, I can only speculate about what happened to this tool.

One possibility is that Microsoft removed the tool to replace it with another similar tool called Microsoft Private Folder 1.0, which was released around the same time the Personal Storage Manager was withdrawn. Microsoft Private Folder is also a free tool and has similar functionalities -- allowing individual files and folders to be encrypted.

As for what you should do with it, there's always a risk with unsupported software. It could be buggy and cause problems, slow down your system or conflict with other software. If you want to play with it, I suggest placing it on a junk server or workstation that isn't connected to your network and that is only used for testing. It shouldn't be put in any production environment, or on your network, under any circumstances.

This was last published in September 2006

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