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Enable FileVault (whole disk encryption) on Time Machine backup drives on OS X 10.7


  • FileVault 2 in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) is based on a whole disk encryption (WDE) schema
  • This feature provides added security for data stored on a computer's disk
  • Time Machine data is not backed up by default
  • Those utilizing FileVault (WDE) on their machine(s) and Apple's Time Machine should enable FileVault on their respective backup disk(s)
Please consult with your System Administrator before enabling FileVault on your machine.


Before enabling FileVault 2, it is important to make sure that PGP (if used before) is completely uninstalled. If you are not sure if PGP was used on your machine before, please consult your system administrator. Instructions on how to manually remove PGP from OS X.
  1. Navigate to "System Preferences".
    Apple > System preferences

  2. Select Time Machine from the main System Preferences window.
    System preferences screen

  3. From the Time Machine window, choose Select Disk.
    Time Machine preferences

  4. From the slide-down menu, select your backup disk and check the box labeled Encrypt backup disk and click the button Use Backup Disk.
    Select disk options

  5. When prompted, create a password for the backup disk and click the button labeled Encrypt Disk.
    Backup password"

  6. The Time Machine disk will begin encrypting itself.
Note: The whole disk encryption process used by FileVault takes time (~5 hours for every 250GB). If your Time Machine drive is connected to a laptop, please plan accordingly; your machine will be fully functional during the encryption process.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

January 02, 2013

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