FAQ: What Is the FileVault Feature on my Mac? Should I Be Using It?

What Is Filevault On Mac Credit: Apple
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Apple has always taken privacy and security seriously – and back in macOS 10.3, Apple created a unique encryption system designed to protect the data on your hard-drive. In macOS X Lion (10.7), Apple upgraded its encryption system to FileVault 2, which added even more security features to protect your data. Continue reading to learn more.

What Is FileVault?

Filevault Disk Utility

FileVault is an extra layer of protection, called encryption, for your data. It uses a 256-bit key to encrypt the data. In layman’s terms, FileVault uses a key that is impossible to duplicate.

  • When you initially turn on FileVault, it will take a while to encrypt the drive and get it ready for regular use.
  • If you ever decide to turn off the encryption, keep in mind that it will take a long time to return to normal use.
  • You can also choose which users can unlock the disk once FileVault is configured.
  • All of the work happens in the background, and there are no extra steps to take once it’s set up.

After FileVault has been turned on, you may experience a slight performance difference due to the drive encryption actively working as it reads and writes data on your drive.

Any Mac that is using an SSD will likely see no difference in performance, but any computer using a spinning style hard-drive may see a slight difference, especially if it is an older model Mac.

Should I Use FileVault?

If you work in an industry that possesses or uses sensitive client data and information that needs to be highly-protected, then I recommend using FileVault.

The same thing goes if you have a lot of personal information on your computer that you’re concerned about people having access to (especially if it’s a laptop).

However, if you have a laptop solely for basic web surfing or Netflix watching etc., and don’t have any personal information on it, then you may not need to use FileVault. To turn on FileVault:

  1. Click the  in the menu bar.
  2. Then click System Preferences.
  3. Click Security & Privacy.
  4. Click FileVault.
  5. Press the padlock button to enter your passcode, and then click Turn On.

Remember that it’ll take a good amount of time to fully encrypt your drive and it’ll also require a restart once it’s done.

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