Encryption and time machine

Discussion in 'macOS Sierra (10.12)' started by cupcakes2000, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. cupcakes2000 macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    I recently realised that Time Machine doesn't automatically encrypt when you have FileVault on.

    I want to remedy this, so I'm trying to enable encryption, in some way, on my TM disk.

    The disk is already in use, and I don't want to erase it and start agin, unless I absolutely have to.

    Preferred option: using the inbuilt FileVault.

    I tried this, but right clicking wouldn't work. It says I can only do it on a partition, not a full disk. Is there anyway round this?

    Potential option: using VeraCrypt.

    I use this for encrypting anything other than system disks. Can I use this with time machine? Or will the fact of needing to enter passwords at various time make it impractical? Or using two encryption systems is not good somehow?

    I'm at a loss with searching on this subject, so I'm turning too trusty macrumours for the answers.
  2. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
  3. teidon macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2009
    Encrypting the partition should be enough. Not sure if it's even possible to encrypt the whole disk.

    Also, see this support document: https://support.apple.com/kb/ph21791
  4. cupcakes2000, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017

    cupcakes2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010

    Thanks for the reply! Yes, the link just leads to how to encrypt the disk by reformatting it.

    As for the other thing, well, I don't know! Im just following the 'right click on device in finder and select encrypt' advice. Its the OS thats telling me that I can't encrypt a whole disk, only a partition. Perhaps I have somehow formatted the disk originally so it doesn't have a partition? Is that even possible? Looking in disk utility thats in fact what it looks like from there as well. I don't get it!
  5. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    How is your TM disk formatted? You can enable disk encryption whenever you want, you don't have to reformat it.
  6. cupcakes2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Yes that's what I thought! It works on my other drives. But with time machine it flashes an error that says: 'A portion, not a whole disk, is required for this operation'.

    I am beginning to wonder if I have somehow formatted the time machine disk in a different manor originally or something?

    I checked disk utility, normally it has the generic disk name, then a small arrow pointing down, with the partition named as you see it on the desktop. For some reason my TM disk doesn't have the little arrow, the whole disk appears to be called Time Machine, with no separate volume. there is another random disk name which is maybe the generic name for the disk, but they're not associated with each other, if you get what I mean..
  7. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    Here's what I did...
    • Open TM prefs
    • Click "Select Disk"
    • Select the same disk as you're using only pick it from the "available disks" menu and then check the "Encrypt Backups" checkbox.
    • Click "Use Disk"
    You'll probably get an error window (I forget exactly what it says), dismiss it and reboot your Mac. When it comes back up and you login, click the Time Machine icon in the menu or open TM prefs and you should see a progress indicator for "Encrypting Backup Disk."

    It will utilize your existing backups and not start from scratch, your previous backups will be retained and accessible just like before.

    It'll probably take a while, possibly days, depending on how many files/how much data you have and how fast the disk is.
  8. cupcakes2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Thanks! I got all excited for a second, but it didn't work. Came out with the same error I mentioned before: 'A portion, not a whole disk, is required for this operation'.

    I really think I must have somehow formatted the disk wrong when I originally set it up (was years ago).

    I really think I'm going to have to start again with my back ups (oh Sh*t), unless anyone has advice on using VeraCrypt as an alternative (i.e.; not interfere with the use of Time Machine).
  9. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    What @Yahooligan described should work, so you have something off there.

    Don't even try with VeraCrypt or anything else. You will want to use the macOS included encryption for this.

    Is the current TM disk just one partition?

    Run this command in Terminal and tell us what it says.

    diskutil list
  10. teidon macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2009
    If everything else fails, you can copy your backup (should be one file or folder) to another disk, reformat and encrypt your backup disk and copy back the backup. TM should (hopefully) recognise it as your backup and just continue from where it left the last time.

    Also to help us figure out what's wrong, take some screenshots (error messages, disk util...) and post them here. Shift + Cmd + 4 to take a screenshot and if you want to screenshot one window, press space bar after that key combination.
  11. cupcakes2000, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017

    cupcakes2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately I don't have the space to put the back up whilst I do that. Also, a few years ago I had trouble when I tried to move a back up from another disk and I ended up losing all the data anyway, so Im not entirely sure how to make that work.

    Here are some screen shots though. One is the side bar in Disk Utility, the two marked in blue seem to correspond with each other.
    (The top one appears to be the generic disk label, and the bottom is the mounted volume, but as you can see, its not as it should be!)
    The other is the error I get. If you have some advice.... thanks!! Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 19.45.12.png Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 19.51.11.png
    --- Post Merged, Apr 13, 2017 ---
    It's describing the time machine volume as a 'virtual' disk, rather than a 'external, physical' - and it doesn't make any mention of a partitioning scheme ... I think I have somehow formatted it with something other than apples disk utility.
  12. teidon macrumors 6502


    Dec 22, 2009
    Based on that first image, it does indeed seem like there is no partitions on that disk. Post a screenshot of the that disk's information in the disk util. Maybe there's something that can help someone figure out something. But I don't believe there is a way to convert the disk so that it's properly formatted without losing the data on it. You would have to get yourself an other external disk or free enough space from your existing ones. Good thing is that external disks are pretty cheap now a days.
  13. cupcakes2000, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017

    cupcakes2000 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Ok, Thanks for the advice! I'm pretty sure I have formatted it in a strange way somehow. Seems the obvious thing. I like to play about with things, I have obviously done something that I didn't fully understand at some point.
    I think I'll just bite the bullet, reformat and start from scratch.
    My system is pretty tidy at the moment, I haven't gone into time machine for months and months. Also it's a 4tb disk and I don't really have the funds to buy another right now. It's almost a single purpose machine, I'm a photographer. Most of my stuff is backed up elsewhere, so really it's just the system drive I have to worry about, which is separated out from the rest of the machine anyway.



    I have managed to borrow a friends drive that was spare, so I'm going to attempt some swapping around and reformatting and try to save my time machine data.

    I have tried to reattach a time machine backup file to a new disk before, and I couldn't make it work.
    If anyone has any advice on that I would appreciate it, I'll be back in a few days!!!!

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