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Article:
  An Unencrypted Look at FileVault
Subject:   FileVault hard drive failure?
Date:   2007-02-02 13:39:24
From:   Jeep2000
This is the best article I've seen on FileVault after spending hours researching. Thanks for a great resource!
I have never used encryption and am investigating this for the first time. One thing I'm not clear on is the ramifications of a hard drive failure when a user had FileVault enabled. IF their only backup was one of the FileVault sparseimage, would there be any way to restore the sparseimage on a new drive, setup FileVault on the newly-installed OS and unencrypt the data? Or is this why it is recommended to back up the files unencrypted in another location?
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  • FJ de Kermadec photo FileVault hard drive failure?
    2007-02-03 07:37:16  FJ de Kermadec | O'Reilly Blogger [View]

    Jeep2000,

    Thank you for your kind words! I am glad and honored you found the article of interest!

    A FileVault sparseimage is basically a disk image that you can mount on any old Mac with Disk Utility. In that light, a copy of a sparseimage constitutes a reliable encrypted backup. A drive failure on an encrypted Home Folder would probably leave the virtual volume that is the "Vault" in an unstable, unusable state, making keeping good backups of any encrypted files extremely important.

    The only drawback to backing up the encrypted images is that they are susceptible to corruption, a phenomenon which can sometimes lead encrypted volumes to stop mounting, with no apparent cause or reason. Unencrypted data is obviously a lot less fragile to such problems. The decision is, in the end, yours and will depend on how much protection your data needs from indiscreet eyes.

    I hope this helps,
    FJ