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Use FileVault Disk Encryption In macOS – Complete Guide

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Use FileVault Encryption In Mac OS X

FileVault is a Disk encryption program for macOS that saves your data if your Mac is ever stolen or misplaced by encrypting the hard disk. So, a misplaced macOS is not something to worry about. FileVault is whole-disk encryption that secures Mac by encrypting all the data at rest on its hard drive.

But for those who are not familiar with FileVault encryption, this article will help them understand it.

What Is FileVault Disk Encryption Mac?

Filevault is a term used for disk encryption specified for Mac. It was introduced with macOS Panther (10.3), and since OS X 10.7 “Lion” is launched, it’s been in the current incarnation. Using XTS-AES 128 block cipher technology, FileVault secures your Mac’s hard disk. Whenever your Mac is started, you are required to put the password if FileVault is opened. Without entering the required password, the data is not recognized.

At the time of FileVault disk encryption, a password and a recovery key are given to enter your Mac. Without this password, nobody could access the original data from the drive. Even you couldn’t reach the data.

However, the recent OS X versions have allowed users to access their data using an iCloud account.

So, if you are concerned about your private data, FileVault encryption provides you a secure way to protect data if your Mac is lost or stolen. Another significant cause for which apple also recommends using FileVault is the opportunity of deleting data securely from Mac equipped with SSD whenever you stop using it.

Should I Use FileVault?

When you are connected to a computer or accessing data through browsing, FileVault Mac encryption provides you the secure feeling, protecting your data from malicious intrusion.

The concept that Filevault encryption in Mac requires a password that involves memorization to get to the drive makes computer processing more complex. So if you are not good at remembering passwords or don’t want to bother, consider your approach to whether it’s worth the effect.

Making FileVault operate faster, hardware encrypting features are incorporated in the CPU. Also, Solid State Drive (SSD) flash is used instead of spinning hard drives in newer Macs, making a difference in performance. These are the reasons for which apple turned to make Filevault on by default instead of keeping it off.

If you are still using Mac with a hard drive, you will find a massive difference between FileVault-encrypted Mac and the older one. But before turning on FileVault, ensure your Mac is up to the mark.

Consider Warning Before Using FileVault

There are specific warnings you should keep in mind before going to FileVault encryption for your Mac.

  • You should always be aware that the initial encryption and decryption process will take time. 
  • You would be able to use your Mac while FileVault sets up, as the encrypting process is done in the background. Therefore, Mac users must put their laptops in and run while the FileVault encrypting process is complete.
  • It is observed that a FileVault with a regular hard drive is more challenging than FileVault with flash-based storage. So, if your older Mac has still equipped with a spinning drive, you might want to upgrade your Filevault.

Furthermore, FileVault-encrypted Mac requires a password, so make sure you secure it, which gives you access to your data, and without that encrypted key, your password would be lost and unreachable. But if you are using OS X 10.10 “Yosemite” or later, you have a chance to recover data by inserting your iCloud account information at the time of need.

Lastly, you need to know that FileVault is whole-disk encryption that enables users to unlock the disk by entering their password.

How To Turn ON FileVault Encryption In macOS?

If you are thinking of getting FileVault for disk encryption, you can follow specific steps to get it.

  1. Click on the  menu.
  2. Click on >System Preferences.
  3. Click on >Security & Privacy.
  4. Click on the >FileVault tab.
  5. Click the lock in the lower right-hand corner.
  6. Enter your administrator password.
  7. Click the >Unlock button.
  8. Click the >Turn On FileVault button.
  9. If you want to reset your password or unlock your disk, Apple connects your FileVault with your iCloud account. Another option FileVault gives you is the recovery key you have to keep safe if anything goes wrong with the password. Choose an option, then click the >Continue button.
  10. Click the Restart button to restart your Mac and begin the FileVault encryption process. Due to rewriting the drive’s contacts by your computer, the process will take a little while. The Mac will continue operating while it’s going on.

FileVault Is Enabled; What Now?

After FileVault encrypts your Mac’s hard disk, you need to enter a password every time you start up your Mac. However, FileVault requires a password to decrypt the drive. It will not need a password if you have customized it to automatically log in for a specific user or administrator account.

Your Mac will normally run once the password is entered, except that any data written to the primary storage system (its internal SSD or hard drive) of the Mac will be encrypted and decrypted on the fly. However, processes like copying information over the network, uploading files to the Internet, or transferring files to external devices like USB thumb drives, hard disk drives, or NAS devices would remain.


Providing the security features none other technology could provide, FileVault encryption for Mac accurately fits your search for smooth and easy-to-use whole-disk encryption.

The data on your hard drive is safely encrypted on Mac using FileVault, so if your Mac is lost or stolen, you have nothing to worry about regarding your data safety.

Just the thing you have to make sure of is to prepare for the unexpected and always back up your Mac before activating FileVault disk encryption.

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Waqas is a cybersecurity journalist and writer who has a knack for writing technology and online privacy-focused articles. He strives to help achieve a secure online environment and is skilled in writing topics related to cybersecurity, AI, DevOps, Cloud security, and a lot more. As seen in: Computer.org, Nordic APIs, Infosecinstitute.com, Tripwire.com, and VentureBeat.

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