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Question: Should I use FileVault?

Got a mid 2012 MacBook pro and was wondering if using FileVault is a good idea for this machine.


Will it slow down performance?


Thanks

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2)

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Jul 20, 2015 5:17 PM in response to Silvolde In response to Silvolde

Adding my 0.02 cents: I strongly agree with ds store and Kappy as well as other nay-sayers. FileVault 2 (what is shipped with Yosemite and later editions of OS/X) should be avoided unless you are very, very concerned about corporate espionage or some such.


My own experience: I got a brand new Mac Book Pro Retina (2015). I thought I'd try it out and see if there was a noticable performance impact, so I turned on FileVault. After using the machine for a week, these were my findings:

  1. The encryption of the disk went just fine, but I imagine if something went wrong during the encryption you would be in a lot of trouble (eg., sewercat's unfortunate experience). Make a backup first!
  2. In general, and as confirmed by several benchmarks that you can find on the web, the performance impact was "not too bad," most of the time taking less than a 10% hit on disk performance.
  3. However... every now and then the performance impact was huge. For seemingly unrelated, simple operations, I would end up waiting 15 to 20 seconds, including things like:
    1. Opening the finder on a directory in my Projects/ folder. It took 20+ seconds to show me the 14 folders in my Projects/ folder. For those 20 seconds, the Projects/ folder appeared empty which totally freaked me out because that's where all my work lives.
    2. Once the Projects/ folder opened, several of the subfolders experienced similar delays. Once the folder went through it's 20+ seconds delay, and was properly loaded, it would behave normally.
    3. Also rarely, but on a regular basis, access to specific files would seem to "hang" for a period of time. I suspect this was exactly the same problem as I ran into with opening a folder that I hadn't accessed in a while – in this case, the file would simply seem to take forever (well, probably 20+ seconds) to open.
    4. This kind of problem seemed to repeat, more or less randomly, "here and there." It seemed to be worse after a reboot, so my guess is it was some kind of decryption that would run when I accessed certain information – and for whatever reason, it was horribly, horribly slow.
  4. During reboot/login, the login time was extended considerably. This is because of how FileVault 2 works: It boots on the rescue partition, and if you successfully login, it then decrypts your entire disk on the fly, and then logs you in (at least, this is how the procedure is described elsewhere). So it's sort of like logging in twice. Not a major problem, and I probably would have kept FileVault 2 turned on if this was the only problem... but the issues under #3 above were totally unacceptable.
  5. I also noticed that the system would frequently consume a huge amount of processing power. I bought this machine to replace my almost 3-year old Mac Book Pro Retina. I'm well familiar with now often the fans should kick to 100%. The brand new one (with FileVault 2 enabled) would frequently – and I mean as much as half the time it was running – run its fans at 100%. It would even do this will sitting perfectly idle, logged in, doing nothing but sitting there with a couple of programs open. (In the meantime, my older Retina never behaved like this).


After all of this, I wiped the disk, re-installed from scratch (being paranoid), and chose not to use FileVault 2. I recommend that you avoid it. It was nothing but headaches for me.


If you do have some sensitive data that you need to protect, I recommend using utilities like 1Password and Knox. Both work very well, and are superbly integrated with OS/X so you hardly know they are there.

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May 22, 2013 3:38 PM in response to Silvolde In response to Silvolde

If you wish to keep youe data in your home folder much more secure filevault will help protect it if you lose yoe machine or some one gets into it. After the first encryption (which will take a while) and your first back up as in time machine (which will also take a while, it should not really be noticable. DO NOT FORGET YOUR FILE VAULT PASSWORD, if you do retrieving your data is virtually impossible.


Some info regarding FV:


http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4790


http://support.apple.com/kb/PH10578


http://support.apple.com/kb/PH10923


http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5077


Hope this helps

May 22, 2013 3:38 PM

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May 22, 2013 3:41 PM in response to CMCSK In response to CMCSK

There's no need to use FileVault just because Apple included it on the machine. There are many attendant risks to using FileVault that are not good for you or the machine. Such as catastrophic loss of data and files.


Send over that boxing clown of yours, and I'll give him a little pop in the nose. 😁

May 22, 2013 3:41 PM

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May 22, 2013 5:12 PM in response to Silvolde In response to Silvolde

I 100% agree with Kappy on this one, unless your a spy or something, avoid Filevault like the plague.


If you need to encrypt files or a folder of files, there are dozens of more specific solutions that are way more easier to manage than encrypting the entire boot drive.


Filevault will make it so it's impossible to fix the machine with software tricks, or recover files, (even encrypted ones) if there is a mechanical problem.


Also since one has to give up the password when having one's machine fixed, it offers no true privacy protection.



If you have a lot of data, a external self-encrypting hard drive is available.


If you don't have a lot of data, there are US "Iron Keys" which also are self-encrypting.


The benefit with these is you can use them with any machine and the files are not locked into the machine, thus it can be taken in for repair.


You want the sensitive files off?, just disconnet and reboot to clear the RAM.



Apple put Filevault on the machines because they are used by some government agencies, but nearly most all consumers have no need for it.

May 22, 2013 5:12 PM

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May 22, 2013 5:27 PM in response to Silvolde In response to Silvolde

I agree with Kappy and ds store stay away from it! Unless completely necessary but then I would still be looking for other solutions. I had a catstrophic time with a harddrive failure and firevault about a year ago that I know I never want to go near again.


Good luck

May 22, 2013 5:27 PM

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Jan 25, 2015 9:43 AM in response to CMCSK In response to CMCSK

This is late but I can safely (or unsafely, as the case may be) say DO NOT USE FILE VAULT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. It hung while encrypting, refused to stop encrypting unless completed, took up all the space on the SSD and corrupted the entire SSD when I tried to verify it from disk utility. I can't even reinstall OSX on to it now. The MBP is toast without a new $500 SSD.


I say again DO NOT USE FILE VAULT.

Jan 25, 2015 9:43 AM

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Question marked as Helpful

Jul 20, 2015 5:17 PM in response to Silvolde In response to Silvolde

Adding my 0.02 cents: I strongly agree with ds store and Kappy as well as other nay-sayers. FileVault 2 (what is shipped with Yosemite and later editions of OS/X) should be avoided unless you are very, very concerned about corporate espionage or some such.


My own experience: I got a brand new Mac Book Pro Retina (2015). I thought I'd try it out and see if there was a noticable performance impact, so I turned on FileVault. After using the machine for a week, these were my findings:

  1. The encryption of the disk went just fine, but I imagine if something went wrong during the encryption you would be in a lot of trouble (eg., sewercat's unfortunate experience). Make a backup first!
  2. In general, and as confirmed by several benchmarks that you can find on the web, the performance impact was "not too bad," most of the time taking less than a 10% hit on disk performance.
  3. However... every now and then the performance impact was huge. For seemingly unrelated, simple operations, I would end up waiting 15 to 20 seconds, including things like:
    1. Opening the finder on a directory in my Projects/ folder. It took 20+ seconds to show me the 14 folders in my Projects/ folder. For those 20 seconds, the Projects/ folder appeared empty which totally freaked me out because that's where all my work lives.
    2. Once the Projects/ folder opened, several of the subfolders experienced similar delays. Once the folder went through it's 20+ seconds delay, and was properly loaded, it would behave normally.
    3. Also rarely, but on a regular basis, access to specific files would seem to "hang" for a period of time. I suspect this was exactly the same problem as I ran into with opening a folder that I hadn't accessed in a while – in this case, the file would simply seem to take forever (well, probably 20+ seconds) to open.
    4. This kind of problem seemed to repeat, more or less randomly, "here and there." It seemed to be worse after a reboot, so my guess is it was some kind of decryption that would run when I accessed certain information – and for whatever reason, it was horribly, horribly slow.
  4. During reboot/login, the login time was extended considerably. This is because of how FileVault 2 works: It boots on the rescue partition, and if you successfully login, it then decrypts your entire disk on the fly, and then logs you in (at least, this is how the procedure is described elsewhere). So it's sort of like logging in twice. Not a major problem, and I probably would have kept FileVault 2 turned on if this was the only problem... but the issues under #3 above were totally unacceptable.
  5. I also noticed that the system would frequently consume a huge amount of processing power. I bought this machine to replace my almost 3-year old Mac Book Pro Retina. I'm well familiar with now often the fans should kick to 100%. The brand new one (with FileVault 2 enabled) would frequently – and I mean as much as half the time it was running – run its fans at 100%. It would even do this will sitting perfectly idle, logged in, doing nothing but sitting there with a couple of programs open. (In the meantime, my older Retina never behaved like this).


After all of this, I wiped the disk, re-installed from scratch (being paranoid), and chose not to use FileVault 2. I recommend that you avoid it. It was nothing but headaches for me.


If you do have some sensitive data that you need to protect, I recommend using utilities like 1Password and Knox. Both work very well, and are superbly integrated with OS/X so you hardly know they are there.

Jul 20, 2015 5:17 PM

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Jan 11, 2016 10:17 AM in response to Kappy In response to Kappy

Unless you have an essential requirement for encrypted files I would avoid FileVault. It's unnecessary unless you keep extremely sensitive files on your drive or are required to use it by your employer.


Is FileVault the same thing as encrypting your hard drive?

Jan 11, 2016 10:17 AM

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Jan 11, 2016 2:21 PM in response to Duane In response to Duane

Yes FileVault encrypts your hard drive.


Thanks.


So when I am formatting a brand-new hard drive, if I choose, "Encryption" I have FileVault ?


I was surprised to read the negative opinions here about FileVault. Some of those posts are little bit old now. I wonder if they are still valid?

Jan 11, 2016 2:21 PM

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Jan 11, 2016 3:15 PM in response to Ziatron In response to Ziatron

So when I am formatting a brand-new hard drive, if I choose, "Encryption" I have FileVault ?


...


Yes.



I was surprised to read the negative opinions here about FileVault. Some of those posts are little bit old now. I wonder if they are still valid?


I have been using it with my latest MacBook Pro with no issues.

Jan 11, 2016 3:15 PM

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Question: Should I use FileVault?