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FileVault for Apple

FileVault is a built in part of OS X which is used to encrypt the entire contents of your home directory.  It uses strong AES-128 encryption to create a sparse image file to store your data.  Unfortunately this means that all of your movie and music files are encrypted as well, together with the important files that you’re attempting to keep safe.  With all of your files together in one large file, the importance of backing up your data is increased, because even a simple write error, which would cause a single file to become corrupted normally, would corrupt the image file, rendering it unreadable. 

For this reason, we’ve set the master password on all of the systems we’ve configured and recommend strongly against the use of FileVault.  The Disk Utility (in the Utilities folder, under the Applications folder) can be used to create encrypted disk images.

  • Launch the Disk Utility
  • Click on New Image
  • Choose a name for your file in the Save As: field
  • Choose a location for your file from the dropdown, or click on the downward facing triangle for more choices.
  • Choose a size for your file from the Size dropdown.  Choosing the size of a DVD or CD would allow you to easily back up this image file.
  • Choose AES-128 from the Encryption dropdown.
  • Choose sparse disk image from the Format dropdown.
  • Click on Create.
  • Choose a password and verify it.  If you choose to remember the password in the keychain, you won’t need to type the password each time you open the file.  DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSWORD.  This password cannot be recovered, nor can the encryption be broken.

Using this image, you can store all of the data that you want encrypted safely, without reducing the physical security of the data system.

If you’re still interested in using FileVault, let our staff know, and we can enable it with the Master Password after you’ve signed a release that you understand the risk you’re taking with your files.
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