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How to encrypt and protect your data with FileVault on a Mac

FileVault is an additional security feature included with Macs that encrypts all the files contained within your system. By using the disk encryption component, all the information sitting on your Mac will essentially be locked to anyone who isn’t the admin. As such, if you’re ever at risk of losing your Mac when, say, commuting to work, or if it simply gets stolen, you can rest assured that at least your data is safe.

For anyone who possesses sensitive information on their system, FileVault is one of the most effective methods for ensuring it can never be accessed by an unauthorized source. We take a look at how to encrypt and protect your data with FileVault on a Mac.




5 minutes

What You Need

  • A Mac system

Enabling FileVault and starting the encryption process

In order to set up FileVault, the user must be logged in as an administrator.

Step 1: Click System Preferences, choose Security & Privacy, and then select FileVault (you may need to click the Lock button on the bottom-left of the window and enter your login details).

Step 2: Click the Turn On FileVault button. Your admin password may be required.

Step 3: Next, you’ll have to select your desired method to unlock your disk and reset your password in the event you forget it. From here, there are two options to choose from:

iCloud account: If you prefer to utilize iCloud to unlock your Mac’s disk, then select the Allow My iCloud Account to Unlock My Disk button. Those who wish to use this specific method but don’t use iCloud can choose the Set Up My iCloud Account to Reset My Password button.

Recovery key: Alternatively, you can make use of the recovery key feature. Select the Create a Recovery Key and Do Not Use My iCloud Account button. Please note that it’s imperative you keep your recovery key somewhere safe so it’s ready to be applied if required.

Step 4: Finally, click Continue.

The encryption process will now begin. Depending on the number of files that need to be encrypted, it could take several hours before the entire procedure is completed. Apple has therefore made it a requirement for your Mac to be connected to its charger. That said, FileVault will encrypt your information in the background so you can continue using your Mac as normal.

Once the process has commenced, progress can be checked through the FileVault window located via Security & Privacy.

After FileVault has completed the entire setup, you will be required to restart your Mac. When you log in after this, an admin account password will have to be inputted to unlock the system’s disk. Furthermore, automatic logins will no longer be permitted. Instead, with FileVault enabled, you’ll have to manually log in every time. This will even be the case after waking your Mac from a sleep state, as well as attempting to use the system when leaving the screen saver.

All files that are created from this point onwards will be automatically encrypted as soon as they’re saved to the Mac’s startup disk.

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