Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, due to be released in the summer, could include a new 'safety deposit box' for important and private files, it has been reported.

Patently Apple reports that the aim of the system is twofold - to protect files from unauthorised access and to protect files from loss due to a failure of a storage device.

The system could be an extension of MobileMe or Time Machine and will likely provide storage space for personal media collections, backing up music, movie, app and ebook purchases. Files stored in the system will be encrypted and, the report says, Apple is thinking of adding creaky door noises when you first open the safe deposit box app and a slamming sound when close the app.

Putting a file into secure storage will be a simple case of dragging and dropping, whereas accessing files will require a user to click on the safe deposit box icon and verify their identity. Files stored in the safe deposit box could be subject to a "timeout monitor" that limits the amount of time that they can be accessed for.

The patent was originally filed in Q3 2009 by engineers Duncan Kerr and David Falkenburg but details were only made public last week.

There have been plenty of rumours circulating in recent weeks about Apple's plans for future cloud-based services, including reports that MobileMe could become a free service very soon.