FileVault Sucks

It sounds like a good idea in theory, but Apple’s FileVault sucks, and here’s why…

I installed the Mac OS X 10.4.7 update today (from 10.4.6) and it didn’t go so well (it’s not like I have some old/bunk Mac either, I have the newest quad processor PowerMac)… A reboot would give the system a kernel panic. Gee, cool… so I put the machine into firewire target disk mode and mount it as a volume from my laptop so I can pull some suspect extensions out of there. Okay, so far so good… ended up being some dependency issue with the USB driver, so I just yanked the kernel extension for the USB driver out of there for now.

Well guess what I found out? If you use your computer in firewire target disk mode and you go into your home directory, your FileVault image becomes corrupted. Hmmm… interesting… that means I just lost everything important (everything in my home directory). Would have been nice if someone tells you this (or better yet, just not let you do it). So now I have no home directory. 🙂 Rad.

Thankfully, I just realized that the RAID mirror on my computer broke about a month ago and never rebuilt itself… so worst case scenario is I have to go back a month. Right now I’m disabling FileVault on the month-old volume (only another 1 1/2 hours to go). When that’s done, my home directory is going to be backed up to something (iPods are handy for more than just music). Then I can see about figuring out a way to “uncorrupt” my up to date FileVault image.

Just for the record, if anyone is using FileVault, disable it. If your single FileVault disk image gets corrupt (by whatever means), you just lost all your files.

I’m going to be one pissed off bitch if I end up having to go back a month…


I just found this… I hope this helps (I’ll know in another hour or so I guess)…


11 thoughts on “FileVault Sucks”

  1. Did you just refer to yourself as “one pissed off bitch”? haha…

    p.s. Remember when I ate the best part of your Drumstick ice cream last weekend? That was funny :).

  2. Yeah, I do remember that… and I’m still pissed about that. But if you read my post, I have other things I’m worrying about at the moment (like loosing all my files.. heh)

  3. Ahh, so the little bit of kudos I gave to Macs over their way cool commercials just went out the door with this blog entry… you definitely have more work to do before you can assimilate me to Macs 😉

  4. Well it’s off by default… 🙂 I think I got all my crap back too… in the process of copying it to my iPod right now.

  5. What IS FileVault anyway? It’s on my PB and it delays shutting down every now and then but I never checked out what it actually does… Suppose I could Google it…

  6. It stores your home directory in a single encrypted disk image. I would disable it if I were you, because if that one file gets corrupted (your disk image), you just lost everything in your home directory.

  7. Wow, losing your entire home directory from a routine OS update? I bet the teenage Apple-iz-kool crowd at Digg would have had a field day if it had been Windows!

  8. Hmmm. I have filevault turned ‘on’ and running on all my macs (6) from G3s to G5s and my MacBook Pro… it’s never screwed me. Then again, I haven’t attempted to change my homedir while in FW disk mode, either. LOL That sucks man.

    One other negative thing about FV… you can’t easily use file recovery software that requires you to reboot from their CD… because they can’t mount your home directory. Bleh!

  9. I’m not sure how you did this. If your computer is in FireWire target mode, then you will just see an empty directory as your home directory. Perhaps you browsed it with The Finder, and it left one of those .DS_Store files behind, preventing the mounting happening and breaking things?

    I have File Vault turned on, and I find it particularly useful for backups. Now, instead of having to backup a lot of files, I can just log out, copy the encrypted disk image somewhere else, and then log back in. Since it’s a disk image, I can store my backup on a UNIX machine without having to worry about forks getting lost. Since it’s encrypted I don’t have to worry about the number of people who have physical access to my backup machine.

  10. referring to David’s July 26th, 2006 at 6:32 am comment. I dealt with this today when I tried to use my other macbook pro to pull all the information off my primary macbook pro which just had its screen break. I had not backed up in a while so needed to get in the machine to get all my info out. Unfortunately, I use filevault so I could not even get past the login screen because I could not figure out where to click and put my password in (I really can’t see anything).

    Fortunately, once the computer was on, I was able to remotely login over my network w/ the registered username and password and pull all my files out of my home directory one by one over wireless. I then put the damaged macbook pro in target mode and pulled the rest of the files out which were in the shared directory.

    The only thing that’s confusing me now is that I can’t seem to login over wireless into my damaged macbook pro’s home directory anymore. I am just seeing an empty folder. Fortunately, I got everything out that’s important.

    This is all preparation for the service which is about to happen w/ my macbook pro w/ the broken screen. If everything gets fixed I’m good. But if they have to wipe out the hard drive for any reason then I know I’m ok

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