FileVault Disk Encryption: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Keeping your data safe is a big deal, and FileVault disk encryption is one way to do that on a Mac. But is it the right choice for you? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

FileVault Disk Encryption: The Step-by-Step Guide

FileVault is a built-in disk encryption feature for Macs that uses XTS-AES-128 encryption with a 256-bit key to help prevent unauthorized access to information on your startup disk. Here’s how to enable it:

Step 1: Open System Preferences

Click on the Apple menu and select "System Preferences."

This is your starting point to access various settings on your Mac, including security features like FileVault.

Step 2: Click on Security & Privacy

Find the "Security & Privacy" icon and click on it to open the panel.

This panel contains settings that help you manage the security of your Mac, including the FileVault encryption settings.

Step 3: Click the FileVault tab

At the top of the "Security & Privacy" panel, click on the "FileVault" tab to access its settings.

The FileVault tab shows you the status of FileVault encryption on your Mac and allows you to turn it on or off.

Step 4: Click the Lock and Enter Your Administrator Name and Password

Click the lock icon at the bottom left of the window, then enter your administrator name and password.

You’ll need administrative privileges to make changes to FileVault settings.

Step 5: Click Turn On FileVault

Once you’ve unlocked the settings, click the "Turn On FileVault" button.

After turning on FileVault, you’ll be asked to choose how you want to be able to unlock your disk and reset your password, in case you ever forget it.

After completing these steps, your Mac will begin encrypting your disk. The process can take a while, especially if you have a lot of data, but you can still use your Mac while encryption is in progress. Once it’s done, your data will be much more secure.

Tips for Using FileVault Disk Encryption

  • Make sure you have a backup of your data before enabling FileVault.
  • Remember your login password; if you forget it, you might lose access to your data.
  • Consider the performance impact; older Macs may run slower with FileVault enabled.
  • Keep your recovery key in a safe place; you’ll need it if you forget your password.
  • Consider the impact on other users; all user accounts on your Mac need to log in with their password to unlock the disk.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is FileVault disk encryption?

FileVault is a security feature on Macs that encrypts your startup disk, making it hard for unauthorized people to access your data.

Does FileVault slow down my Mac?

It might. FileVault encryption can slightly reduce the speed of file access, especially on older Macs.

Can I access my encrypted files on another computer?

No, if your disk is encrypted with FileVault, you can only access the files from the Mac that encrypted them, and you’ll need the password.

What happens if I forget my FileVault password?

If you forget your password and you haven’t saved a recovery key, you could be locked out of your data permanently.

Can I turn off FileVault once it’s on?

Yes, you can turn off FileVault by going back to the Security & Privacy settings on your Mac. However, it will take some time to decrypt your data.

Summary of Steps

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Security & Privacy.
  3. Click the FileVault tab.
  4. Click the Lock and Enter Your Administrator Name and Password.
  5. Click Turn On FileVault.


So, there you have it—the lowdown on FileVault disk encryption. It’s a pretty nifty tool for keeping your digital life under wraps, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Sure, you’ll sleep better at night knowing your data’s as safe as a squirrel’s nut stash, but you might have to wait a bit longer for your Mac to wake up in the mornings. And heaven forbid you forget your password—without that recovery key, your files could be as lost as a phone signal in the wilderness. But hey, that’s the price of security, right?

When it comes down to it, enabling FileVault is like putting a big ol’ padlock on your personal treasure chest. Just make sure you keep the key safe, ’cause no one’s getting in—or out—without it. And remember, in this crazy digital world, a little encryption goes a long way. Stay safe out there!