How to enable FileVault encryption on Mac

As a Mac user, you must have heard of or encountered a feature called FileVault. In this article, we take a look at what FileVault is and how to enable or disable FileVault on Mac.

What is FileVault?

FileVault is best described as a built-in disk encryption feature available on your Mac. FileVault Disk Encryption (FileVault 2) uses XTS-AES-128 encryption with a 256-bit key to protect all your files and data on Mac.

As soon as you enable the FileVault feature on Mac, it starts encrypting the current files and folders on your Mac. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours depending on the amount of data on your Mac and the speed of your Mac.

However, once the hard drive is encrypted, FileVault offers on-the-fly encryption for every new file you create or modify on your Mac.

While encrypting new files on Mac doesn’t really take much time, there is a slight performance hit when using the FileVault feature on your Mac.

The difference in performance is barely noticeable on newer Macs with SSD drives and can be noticed on older Macs without SSD drives.

Benefits of FileVault Encryption on Mac

As mentioned above, FileVault encrypts all files and data on your Mac, making it virtually impossible to gain unauthorized access to files and data on your Mac.

This ensures that your data and personal information is protected even if your Mac is misplaced, lost, or stolen.

Disadvantages of FileVault Encryption on Mac

While FileVault is so easy to use, it’s not for everyone. It is not recommended for those who do not need such a high level of security, and especially not for those who are likely to forget or lose passwords.

FileVault encryption is so powerful that if you lose your password and backup recovery key, there really is no way to recover your data.

Also, FileVault uses on-the-fly encryption, which can cause a noticeable drop in performance on older Macs.

How to enable FileVault encryption on Mac

Follow the steps below to enable FileVault encryption on Mac.

1. Click on that apple icon located in the top menu bar on your Mac, then click System Settingsā€¦ option in the drop down menu that appears.

System Preferences option on Mac

2. On the System Settings screen, click security Possibility.

Security & Privacy option in System Preferences screen on Mac

3. On the Security & Privacy screen, click the small lock icon located in the lower left corner of the screen (see image below)

Unlock to make changes to system settings on Mac

4. If prompted, enter your admin username and password.

5. While still on the Security & Privacy screen, click the data vault tab and then click Enable FileVault button (see image below).

Enable the FileVault option on Mac

6. On the next screen you can choose either yours iCloud account to unlock FileVault Encrypted Disk or select the option to Create a recovery key Option to unlock the encrypted disk (see image below).

Create a recovery key to unlock FileVault on Mac option

Choose an option that suits you and click on it Continue button (see picture above)

7. If you chose to create a recovery key, write down the recovery key that appears on the next screen and keep it in a safe place.

FileVault recovery key generated by Mac

The FileVault recovery key generated by your Mac is a 24-digit alphanumeric alternate password that can be used to decrypt the drive if you forget your password.

If you have multiple user accounts on the Mac, you must enable FileVault access individually for each user account by clicking Activate user next to the user account (see image below).Enable FileVault for individual users on Mac

Once you have activated users, click Continue Button.

8th. Finally click on the Start anew button to start encrypting files on your Mac.

Start the process of encrypting files on Mac

The time to encrypt files depends on the amount of data on your Mac and also the speed of the hard drive. The process is faster if you have an SSD drive on your Mac.

How to disable FileVault encryption on Mac

If you decide you don’t really need FileVault Encryption or you notice a slowdown in your Mac’s performance, you can always turn off FileVault on Mac by following the steps below.

1. Click on that apple icon located in the top menu bar on your Mac, then click System Settingsā€¦ option in the drop down menu that appears.

System Preferences option on Mac

2. On the System Settings screen, click security Possibility.

Security & Privacy option in System Preferences screen on Mac

3. On the Security & Privacy screen, click the small lock icon located in the lower left corner of the screen (see image below)

Unlock to make changes to system settings on Mac

4. Enter your administrator in the popup username and password.

5. While still on the System & Privacy screen, click the data vault tab and then click Disable FileVault Button.

6. Then confirm that you want this Disable FileVault and restart the Mac by clicking Reboot and disable encryption

Your Mac will automatically restart and begin the decryption process.

Decrypting the drive may take some time depending on the amount of data on your Mac and the speed of the drive. SSD drives are faster compared to normal HDD drives.

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