11/14/12

Encrypting an External Hard Disk With Finder vs Disk Utility

In Disk Utility, you can encrypt an external drive when you format it as “Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encryted)”. In Finder, you can encrypt an external drive by right-clicking on the drive name, then clicking Encrypt. Is there any difference between these two processes? Do you end up with the same result?
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Bob

One Response to “Encrypting an External Hard Disk With Finder vs Disk Utility”

  1. Good question. To answer it I simply took a 1GB flash USB thumb drive and tried it both ways. First, I used Disk Utility to create a Journaled, Encrypted drive. The result was a partition of format “Encrypted Logical Partition.”
    To contrast this with a non-encrypted drive, I used Disk Utility to reformat it as simply a Journaled drive. The result was a partition format of “Mac OS Extended (Journaled).”
    Then I used the Finder function to encrypt it. The result of that was that the partition then changed to “Encrypted Logical Partition.”
    In addition to the partition matching exactly between the two methods, the drive itself is also seen by Disk Utility to be the same. When encrypting with either method, it shows that the drive is formatted as a “Logical Volume Group.” If you format the drive as Journaled (non-encrypted) it doesn’t show that. In fact the drive info looks completely different.
    So my conclusion is that yes, the results of these two methods is the same. I guess the advantage of the Finder method is that it should work while keeping the content of the drive intact. It probably does this by copying the data into memory or scratch disk space, re-formatting the drive, and then copying it back. But I can’t be sure.
    However, using the Disk Utility method you will be erasing the drive completely and will lose all data on it.

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