How to use Dropbox Vault

Updated Aug 03, 2023
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This feature is available to users on the Dropbox Plus, Professional, and Family plans.

Dropbox Vault is a feature that lets you create a location in Dropbox with an additional layer of security for your most sensitive files and share it with trusted contacts. This location, or “vault”, in your Dropbox account is guarded by a numeric password, or “PIN”, and can't be opened or accessed by third-party apps.

If you are a trusted contact, or have been invited to be one, visit this article about becoming a trusted contact.

Not using Dropbox Vault yet? See how Dropbox helps you safely store personal information online.

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Note: Users on the latest Dropbox for macOS update will no longer be able to access Vault through the Dropbox desktop app. You’ll still be able to access Vault on dropbox.com and the Dropbox mobile app.

Create your vault

To create your vault:

  1. Log in to dropbox.com.
  2. Click your avatar (profile picture or initials) in the top-right corner.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Under Features, next to Vault, click Set up. A setup window will open.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Type a PIN and click Set PIN.

Your vault is named “Vault”, and is listed alongside your files and folders on dropbox.com, the Dropbox mobile app, and the Dropbox folder on your computer. 

When you unlock your vault in the Dropbox folder in File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), files in your vault automatically download to your hard drive. When you lock your vault again, files in your vault are automatically removed from your hard drive and are only stored on dropbox.com.

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Note: If you already have a folder named “Vault” in your Dropbox account, your vault will be named “Dropbox Vault”. If you already have a folder named “Dropbox Vault”, your vault will be named “Dropbox Vault (1)”.

Lock your vault with your PIN

Dropbox Vault keeps your files extra secure with a PIN. You set a PIN for your vault when you create your vault. When you open your vault, your PIN allows 10 attempts before you’re locked out. If you’re locked out, contact support to reset your pin. 

After you use your PIN to unlock your vault, your vault auto-locks again after 20 minutes on dropbox.com and after 3 minutes on mobile. While your vault is locked, the files in your vault won’t appear on your content suggestions, recents, updates, and notifications lists, or in the search bar suggestions.

To manually lock your vault, a PIN is needed to unlock it:

  • On dropbox.com: Click the padlock icon in the top-left corner of your vault.
  • On the Dropbox mobile app: Tap “” (ellipsis) in your vault, and then tap Lock Vault.
  • In File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac): Right-click your vault and click Lock Vault.

Your vault’s security measures are in addition to the security measures Dropbox takes with all of your files and folders, including encryption in transit and at rest. To add security to your entire Dropbox account, we recommend enabling multi-factor authentication

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Note: If you’re a Windows 10 or later user, your computer automatically caches photos, which means your photos might still be viewable after your Vault is locked. To fix this, run Disk Cleanup to clear your thumbnail cache.

Choose files for your vault

Some suggestions for sensitive files to add to your vault are:

  • Identification files: Pictures of your passport, driver’s license, social security card, or birth certificate
  • Medical files: Health records or your insurance card
  • Legal files: Your will, your marriage certificate, or your lease
  • Financial files: Tax forms

Let Dropbox suggest files to add to your vault

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This Vault feature is only available to some Dropbox customers.

When you create your vault, you have the option to let Dropbox suggest files to add to it. If you let Dropbox make suggestions, a list of files are displayed for you to choose from. These files are chosen because their names and content include keywords common for sensitive files, like “tax return” or “passport”. This information is private and only used to suggest files to you.

Add files to your vault

If you add a Dropbox file or folder to your vault, it’s removed from its original location in Dropbox and added to your vault. If you add a file or folder to your vault from somewhere else on your computer, it remains in its original location and a copy of it is added to your vault. 

To add a Dropbox file or folder to your vault, you can move it there just as you would normally move a file or folder in Dropbox. You can also add a file or folder from Dropbox or anywhere on your computer to your vault with the instructions below.

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Notes:

  • Shared folders can’t be moved to your vault. Unshare the folder with all members before moving it. 
  • Files with “can edit” sharing permissions can’t be moved to your vault. Change sharing permissions to “can view” before moving them. 
  • You can’t open or share the files in your vault with third-party apps.
  • On your mobile device, you must open files stored in your vault directly on the Dropbox app, not through third-party apps (like Excel or MS Word).

Add a file or folder on dropbox.com

  1. Log in to dropbox.com.
  2. Click Vault in your files and folders list.
  3. Enter your PIN.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Click one of the following:
    • From Dropbox: Click a file or folder and click Choose.
    • From computer (file): Click a file and click Open.
    • From computer (folder): Click a folder and click Select folder (Windows) or Upload (Mac).
    • New folder: Type your new folder name, choose a location, and click Create.

Add a file or folder in the Dropbox desktop app

To add a file or folder to your vault in File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), drag or copy the file or folder into your vault.

Share the files in your vault

You can give “can view” access to the files in your vault in the same way you would share regular files in Dropbox. Anyone you give “can view” access to can view and comment on your files without a PIN, but can’t edit them.

Change your PIN

To change your PIN:

  1. Log in to dropbox.com.
  2. Click Vault in your file list.
  3. Enter your PIN.
  4. Click the Settings tab.
  5. Click Set PIN.
  6. Enter your old PIN and the new PIN you’d like to use. 
  7. Click Save.

Reset your PIN

To reset your PIN, open your vault from dropbox.com or the Dropbox folder in File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) and click Forgot your PIN? to use your Dropbox account password to reset it. 

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Note: If your Dropbox account password was just changed, you must wait 48 hours before you can reset your PIN.

Delete your vault

If you delete your vault, the files you stored in your vault are permanently deleted and can’t be restored. To delete your vault:

  1. Log in to dropbox.com.
  2. Click your avatar (profile picture or initials) in the top-right corner.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click the General tab.
  5. Under Features, next to Vault, click the “” (ellipsis).
  6. Click Delete Vault.
  7. Click Delete.
  8. Enter your PIN and click Delete.

Downgrade, upgrade, or delete your Dropbox account

If you downgrade your Dropbox account to Basic or upgrade your Dropbox account to a team account, the next time you enter your PIN to open your vault, it will become a regular folder.

If you delete your Dropbox account, your vault is deleted.

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