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Acerose Support Page

Note that Windows® Vista, Windows® 7, Windows® 8, 8.1, Windows® 10, and Windows® 11 are NOT supported and you shouldn't use Acerose on them.

The last version of Acerose is 1.0.5. If you have an older version, download version 1.0.5 and install it. Starting with version 1.0.5 the Acerose program (acerose.exe) and the setup file (apvsetup.exe) are digitally signed. It's particularly important for password management software that you can verify the source of the file and that it has not been altered in any way. See Verifying Digitally Signed Software for more information.

In versions after Windows® XP, Microsoft dropped support for the help file that's installed with the program such that it won't open unless you install some add-on that Microsoft warns is a security risk. Rather than do that here's a link to the contents of the help file translated to HTML.

Now that Microsoft has dropped support for Windows® XP we no longer offer email support for Acerose. If you have questions or problems please read through this page as you'll likely find the answers are here.

Troubleshooting (can't open vault file)

You type in your user name and password as you've done many times before and to your surprise the following message pops up.

Create new vault file message

The most likely cause is that you made a mistake typing either your user name or your password. Click No and then OK on the next message and carefully enter your user name and password again making sure to use the same exact case (capital letters) and spacing you used when you created your vault file. Tip: Uncheck the Conceal Password box so that you can see your password to make sure it's correct.

If you still can't open your vault file click No as before and then take a good look at the Error message as it's telling you what file the Acerose program is looking for.

Error Message shows vault file name and folder

The Acerose program only looks for vault files in the folder the program file "acerose.exe" is located in and launched from. The name of the vault file is derived from the user name and the password. The file extension of active vault files is always "apv".

The key to fixing most problems is understanding the above paragraph, so you may want to go back and read it again.

If you have moved your vault file to some other folder, the Acerose program can't find it. If you have moved the program file "acerose.exe" to some other folder, the Acerose program can't find your vault file. If you are launching a copy of the program file "acerose.exe" in a different folder, it can't find your vault file. If you have renamed your vault file the Acerose program can't find it.

If you are sure you are using the correct user name and password launch Windows Explorer and open the folder given in the error message and make sure both the program file and the vault file are in that folder.

If both files are in the expected folder and you are getting the create new vault file message then you are not entering your user name and/or password correctly. There is no backdoor into Acerose. If you've lost or forgotten your user name and/or password there's nothing that can be done to open your vault file. The best hope is for you to try different combinations of what you can remember of your user name and password. Often it's as simple as you forgetting that you used upper or lower case for one or more letters in your original user name or password. Write down various combinations of your user name and password and systematically try them.

If you have made only one vault file than there should be only one file with the "apv" file extension in the folder regardless of how many records it contains. An empty vault file has a file size of 1 KB and each record in a vault file adds 1 KB of space, so you can tell if a vault file contains the number of expected records by it's file size. This is useful to know if you have been trying to open your vault file and have ended up creating a new one that doesn't contain any records as it will have a file size of 1 KB.

If the vault file is not shown in the expected folder, or it's an empty one you inadvertently created, then search for the original vault file in other folders. This can happen if you are launching a second copy of the Acerose program rather then the one you expected. Maybe you installed Acerose more than once and to different folders or you made a backup copy of the entire Acerose folder and somehow you are launching the wrong copy. Whatever copy of the program you launched will show it's own folder in the Error message shown above. If you find the vault file then copy it to the same folder the Acerose program file is in, but be careful you don't make a mistake and copy an empty or old vault file over the one containing your current records. Once you have the vault file in the proper folder launch the copy of Acerose in that same folder by double clicking on the "acerose.exe" file, and then enter your user name and password normally.

Note that you can't open vault files by double clicking the vault file's name. You have to open the Acerose program that's in the same folder as the vault file and then enter your user name and password to open a vault file. There's no viable means of figuring out what user name and/or password was used to create a particular vault file.

In some cases when you enter your user name and password the following message pops up.

If you are not tying to create a new vault file then this message means the Acerose program found the vault file but can't open it. This means the file has been corrupted or overwritten. Hopefully you made a backup.

In other cases you may see a message similar to the following when opening a vault file.

In this case one or more records within the vault file have been corrupted. If you click Yes the program will attempt to repair the record. Both the user name and password in each record are saved redundantly and the program will use that redundant data to fix the user name and password for that record, if possible. However, other fields within the record cannot be repaired.

If nothing happens at all after you type your user name and password and press the Enter key or click Open or Create Vault File, then Acerose is finding the expected file, but it's so corrupt that the program doesn't recognize it as a vault file. Hopefully you made a backup.

Another possible cause of not being able to open a vault file is a problem with the hard drive. Hard drives can fail catastrophically or in a way that initially only effects a few files.

To avoid loosing data from all these causes you should be making backup copies. See recommendations and how to information for making backups and restoring them in the FAQ section below.

When you first create a vault file you see the following message.

Over the years, to the best of our knowledge everyone who has followed the instructions and recommendations on this page has been able to recover their passwords. Just as a reminder, however, before you created your vault file you had to click the checkbox indicating you have read the warnings and that you accept all risks in using or not being able to use the Acerose Password Vault program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do you recommend for backing up my passwords?

A: By default Acerose is installed to the "C:\Acerose" folder. Just copy the entire install folder to an external drive, such as a USB flash drive or memory stick. It's only about 1.2 MB in size, which is nothing nowadays. Besides being able to copy back to hard drive, once the Acerose folder is on the flash drive you can actually open your vault file on the flash drive by launching the program "acerose.exe" on the flash drive. Acerose always looks for the vault file in the folder the program was launched (started) from. If it can't find it you'll be asked if you are starting an new vault file. Vault files have the extension ".apv", which stands for Acerose Password Vault.

It's recommended that you make multiple backups and have some in a secondary location such as on a CD that's kept in a bank safe deposit box. It all depends on how valuable your passwords are to you. Remember, the vault files (*.apv) are encrypted, so the risk of someone hacking the vault file is far less than the risk of losing all copies of the vault file due to catastrophic hardware failure or a building fire.

It's also recommended that you turn on auto backup as it always maintains a second copy of your latest vault file in a separate location. With the vault file open, click Options on the main menu and then click Auto backup options...

Check the box labeled "Automatically back up the vault file", select the number of versions you want to keep and finally select the location the backups will be saved in. If you have more than one physical hard drive in your computer, then select a hard drive other than the one Acerose is installed on. This ensures that a copy of your vault file will survive if either hard drive crashes. You can select a network location, but you risk someone else deleting those files even though they can't open them.

Backup vault files made by the auto backup option have the same name as your vault file, but have a number as the extension rather than ".apv" as shown below.

The backup with the extension ".1" is the same version as your current vault file. The backup with the extension ".2" is the version prior to the last change made to your vault file, and so on. These backups can be used from within Acerose by clicking File on the main menu and then clicking Records recovery... If you can't even get that far you can copy the backup file with the extension of ".1" such as "Z2UTT7G6.1" to the program's folder (C:\Acerose by default) and change it's extension to ".apv" such as "Z2UTT7G6.apv". Then launch Acerose and enter your user name and password normally to open the vault file.

If your passwords are important to others than make sure you write down your vault user name and password and save that information in a secure location such as a bank safe deposit box. There is no backdoor into Acerose vault files and it's no fun explaining that to someone who's spouse died unexpectedly and left them desperate for help because they have no means of accessing their on-line accounts and maybe don't even know where they are or that they even exist.

Q: Does Acerose work with Windows® Vista, Windows® 7, and Windows® 8?

A: No. Microsoft dropped support for the help system Acerose and many other programs use. Even newer Microsoft help systems don't work if the help files are installed on a network drive. A user can download a fix from Microsoft, but they warn that doing so opens a security hole. Yes, we could add an HTML based help system as we have done with other software, but that minimizes the portability of Acerose. Besides, users can now select from among many free password managers that are now on the market, which was not the case back in 2003 when we wrote Acerose to fill that need.

Q: How many passwords can I keep in a single vault file?

A: There is no specified limit. The more passwords a vault file contains the longer it takes to open. As an example, a vault file containing 100 passwords opens in 3 seconds on a machine with a 1 GHz processor.

Q: Can I use spaces in the User Name and Password when making a new vault file?

A: Yes, but you must use the same exact number of spaces to open the vault file again. For the password, we recommend using a phrase or make up a random word, but one which you can remember.

Q: Can I use the same password for more than one vault file?

A: Yes, if the user name is different in any way, then it's a different vault file. You can also use the same user name with different passwords. The auto manager takes care of the details.

Q: Can I have more than one vault file open at a time?

A: Yes, you can open as many vault files as your system has resources for. If you have more than one vault file open and in the tray, you can tell which user name is for a given icon by pausing the mouse over the icon.

Q: What's the best way to organize my passwords in a vault file.

A: When a vault file is open, it's sorted by the Description field, so the best way to organize a vault file is to use key words in the Description field to group like items together. For example, start the description of all your e-mail passwords with the word "Mail", and all your banking or retirement accounts with a word like "Financial."

Q: How do I know the name and location of my vault file?

A: When you first create a vault file you'll be shown it's name and location. The location is always the same folder where the "acerose.exe" program file is located. Once a vault file is open you can see its name and location by selecting File from the main menu and then selecting Vault file information.

Q: Can I rename vault files?

A: No. The auto manager calculates the file name based on the user name and password using the versatile SHA-1. The auto manager has been tested to over 120 million random combinations of user names and passwords without finding a file name clash. In the rare possibility that there is a clash, you'll be given a message to select a different user name or password. With SHA-1, there is no means of working backwards from file names to discover user names or passwords.

Q: What's the advantage of closing or minimizing to the tray?

A: Typically, we select to view just the Description and Note fields, so that if a guest is watching they don't see our passwords or other detailed information. For enhanced security we select to both close and minimize to the tray and require a password to restore. This lets us quickly protect our passwords by clicking the close or minimize icons on the upper right of the window. The tray restore password can be something short, as the only risk is that someone may try to guess it while we are temporally away from the computer. The short password makes it easy to restore the vault file when we need a password.

Common Problems

P: Unable to export password information.

A: This is usually caused by the output file being set to read-only. Either export to a different file or use Windows Explorer to set the file's properties to allow writing to the file (uncheck the read only box). Also, if you have just added new records, exit Acerose and then reopen the vault file before trying to export.

P: Unable to launch web pages.

A: You must have a default browser set up to launch web pages from within Acerose. The best way to test this is to open Windows® Explorer or My Computer, locate some *.htm or *.html file (or make one) and double click on it. If you have a default browser, the file will open in your default browser.

To select Windows® Internet Explorer (IE) as the default browser, open the Tools menu and click on Internet Options... Then click the Programs tab and check the box near the bottom of the dialog that says something about Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser and then click OK. Finally exit IE and start it again.

If the default browser test still doesn't work, then you likely have installed some other browser and it's keeping IE from garbing the default status, yet it's not selected as the default browser either. See if you can get it set up to either be the default browser or allow IE to be the default browser.

Another possibility is that you may have installed some third party browser that you didn't like and then uninstalled it. Sometimes uninstalls leave orphaned settings in the Registry that prevent IE from being the default browser. In that case you may need to manually remove those settings, the details of which may depend on what version of windows you are running and what third party browser you tried. As a last resort, you may be able to reinstall that third party browser and use it as the default browser. You may even be able to select IE as the default browser once the third party browser is installed.

P: Unable to open another vault file from within an open password vault.

A: Make sure the User Name and Password fields are correct. Enter the full path to the Acerose.exe file in the URL field such as "c:\acerose\acerose.exe". The path must not contain any spaces (spaces are not allowed in URLs). The vault file you want to open must be in the same location as acerose.exe. Select Script #3 in the Launch Using box. Give it a try.

If you still can't open the vault, click Options on the main menu and select Launch setup options... In the Launch Setup Options dialog, select Script #3 in the Enter or Edit Launch Script box. The script will display in the Launch Script box. That script should be as follows:

%URL% "%UN%" "%PW%"

If script #3 is different, you may not want to change it as any change will effect every record where you have selected script #3. Rather, edit the vault record by adding the User Name and Password to the URL such as follows:

c:\acerose\acerose.exe "my user name" "my password"

Be sure to select URL Field in the Launch Using box. That should do the trick.

If Acerose opens to the enter user name and password dialog rather than opens the vault file, that means either the user name or password is incorrect. Remember, these fields are case sensitive, so a password of "Blue Direction" is different than "blue direction".

Background Information

Just like you, we have a number of important assets, both on-line and off, that are password protected. For the security of those assets we wanted to use strong passwords and a different password for each asset. The solution is to use a password management program, but which one? In researching this, we found that the market is full of such programs, but to our surprise, we found that many are fundamentally flawed in one of two ways. Either they use a storage protocol known to be subject to corruption or they incorporate a password generator for which serious attacks are known to exist.

Being software developers, we set out to create a password management program that would avoid both these fundamental flaws. The rock solid reliable storage of password information required a number of features including a top notch streaming cipher. This was solved by using the SHA-1 (Secure Hash Algorithm 1), which is at the heart of all federally approved digital signature protocols. In it's role as a streaming cipher, SHA-1 generates chaff (pseudo-random characters), which is mixed with the plain text to produce the cipher text. That's where the name Acerose comes from. One of the definitions of acerose is "having the nature of chaff; chaffy."

It's a natural fit for password management programs to include a password generator, but many such generators produce only the appearance of security. We wanted a true cryptographic quality password generator for our program, and once again the SHA-1 was the solution.

With a bit of checking we found that typical users have less than 50 password protected assets. With this relative small number of items a hierarchical organization is unnecessary. The grouping of like items is easily accomplished simply by starting the description with key words, such as Financial, News group, Boards, Mail, etc. Of course, you can also sort on the date the record was created or edited, or by URL, User name, or Note. This makes finding the item you want easy and quick.

Ballistic Explorer is a trademark of Dexadine, Inc.   All other products mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
Last updated: July 25, 2022
Copyright 2015 by Dexadine, Inc.