GOMUG: Mac Users Group Blog

How to Use FileVault

Found on Mac OSX 10.3 and later, FileVault is a great tool to make sure all your data is completely safe at all times. FileVault encrypts the files, as in it stores them as a Sparse Disc Image, which is essentially one large file and uses a key derived from the user’s password.

It is always safe to take some extra precautions for your Mac and FileVault will help you do just that by allowing you to encrypt your drive.

Encrypt the entire home folder into one file

The entire home folder can be encrypted into one big file. If iTunes, iPhotos and movies are all moved out of this, the file size can be kept small and this helps improve the reliability. By going to Preferences in iTunes, you can go to Advanced and allocate where your iTunes library need to be kept. Then by going to Consolidate Library in Advanced, your files will be moved by iTunes. The same can be done for iPhoto by just moving the iPhoto library.

Create a maintenance user account

By clicking on Accounts in System Preferences and adding the user there, a maintenance user account can be created. It should be ensured that it is an Administrator account to allow unhindered access to system privileges. This account is critical, as without it the FileVault gets corrupted.

Create a complete backup of the Mac

By logging into the maintenance account, a complete backup of the Mac’s contents can be made into an external drive. This saves everything on your Mac and a restore will return your system to its exact current condition.

Create a backup of all your files

After logging out of the maintenance user account and logging in the normal user account, a backup of all the files on the Mac can be made using the Retrospect solution.

Create a whole-drive backup solution

Creating a backup solution of the entire drive is optional, but it is advisable to do so. The SuperDuper software and an external drive can be used for this. It is always safe to have a bootable backup of all the files as you never really know when your system decides to take a walk on the wild side.

Set a master password

A master password can be set by going to Security in the System Preferences option. It is recommended to write down the master password in a secure place in case you forget it.

Request password to wake computer

The settings on the bottom can be changed to request a password to wake the computer, whenever it is on sleep mode. Automatic login can be disabled as it leaves the system open to anyone and everyone while you are away or busy….not a very good idea if you have confidential material on your Mac.

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