Of the many recent changes and updates that Lion offers, FileVault has me a little baffled. What's the point of it? Does it allow me to encrypt my files and folders with a password? If so, I haven't seen that option yet. After turning on FileVault, Lion started the process of encrypting my files (so it says) but without the option to enable a password for folders and programs, I'm not sure I understand what purpose it serves.
What's the point in Filevault?
For most people it's unnecessary and will substantially hinder file recovery efforts though direct access of the 1's and 0's on the drive itself.
It is performance robbing as it ties up your CPU with another task. Not such a big deal for word files, but it can be a issue with large video files etc.
For those who work in security or have that sort of high level need, then it's needed of course.
Most folks who only want to encrypt a few select files or folders are better off with third party file encryption software, the advantage of this is they can be transferred or even recovered encrypted and decoded on another machine with the right software and password.
So if the computer dies, the storage can be removed and the encrypted files accessed, even from Linux or Windows machines.
Some people/places like hospitals/medical records use a self encrypting external hard drive either with a key and/or a keypad password to decrypt the data stream thus the files can be accessed by any computer.
Others have more disposable/smaller needs, something like a self encrypting Iron Key which they can hide or toss at a sign of danger.
Filevault is likley necessary with SSD's and private data because they can't be "scrubbed" like hard drives can, so with a SSD and any private data, Filevault should be utilized.
Of course Apple has to give certain authorities access or likely there is some sort of crack.
If you take your broken Mac to a Apple Store they will require the Filevault password.
If your at Customs/Immigration, they will sometimes ask for the password to snoop in your computer and clone your drive.
US courts have required suspects to decode their drives, seems the right to not implicate oneself has little effect.
There is a device that can read the entire SSD of iPods, iPhones and iPads (all cell phones too) in minutes and retrieves the password for decoding, so apparently the "industry" is providing access to these devices.
Eventually Mac's will also be just as susceptible to this sort of easy intrusion.
IMHO, if you have something to keep private and can't be disclosed ever, should keep it encrypted in a manner that doesn't draw attention, can't be obvious or in plain sight and is easily disposable.
Powerful rich governments with a strong bio-sciences/medical certainly can make or already have DNA computers which are cable of taking all the keyboard combinations and running it against a encrypted block of data.
I doubt many people will have the capacity to remember several hundred or thousand random character passwords in order to defeat such methods.