Password protect macbook pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by HyperX13, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. HyperX13 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    #1
    Coming from thinkpad family of laptops to Mac Book pro as my daily laptop, I have a question about a feature that I miss (or can't figure out how to turn on). In the thinkpad you could password protect your hard drive. When you turned the computer on, a password prompt would come up and you had to type it to boot. This is not the bios boot up password. Also, if the hard drive was removed, you could not get into it. Is there such a feature in the Mac Books?

    This is a recent article relating what I am looking for:

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/hard_disk_passwords_offer_great_security_for_free
     
  2. oculus42 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
    #2
    No. That feature is not available. You can use FileVault to encrypt your home directory, but not the whole drive.

    You can use a firmware password (equivalent to a BIOS password) to prevent someone from booting your computer (Apple Article HT1352). It won't prevent someone from yanking the drive and getting your data, though.
     
  3. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #3
    Have a look at System Preferences->Security->FileVault to encrypt your home folder.
     
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #4
    For starters...

    Turn off automatic login in the Security preference pane in System Preferences. Between that and the Accounts prefpane you can configure a login screen that requires a password.

    Additionally, full disk encryption requires a 3rd party utility, such as PGP. But it DOES exist.
     
  5. Darth.Titan macrumors 68030

    Darth.Titan

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2007
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #5
    There is a Firmware Password Utility in the "Utilities" menu of your OS install disc. That will pretty much do what you want.

    http://mac101.net/content/how-to/tips-tricks-mac-security-fixes-set-a-firmware-password/

    From what I can tell what this does is prevent someone from booting using modifier keys (i.e. booting from CD, Target Disk, Single User mode) without a password, but that plus your regular account password should leave you pretty secure.
     
  6. HyperX13 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Sep 3, 2009
    #6
    Just curious. What kind of performance hit does the laptop take when you encrypt your home folder?
     
  7. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Nov 2, 2007
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    SF Bay Area
    #7
    Good question. Against my better instincts I have never turned on FileVault. So I just did. I have 4 Windows VMs whose file bundles total about 65GB that will take a while to encrypt. I suspect they will not perform so well, but I'll find out. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. I will also be interested to see how Lightroom performs rendering the raw files in its catalog. I imagine decrypting normal files like documents or spreadsheets, or an email mailbox goes pretty quickly.

    If I decide to leave this turned on, then I am going to need to validate my backup approach too.
     
  8. codo macrumors 6502

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    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    England, United Kingdom
    #8
    I shall be very interested in hearing your results - I have never turned it on either, despite only ever owning Apple portables, for exactly the same reason.
     
  9. HyperX13 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    #9
    Thanks for doing that!! When I turned it on (just now) it warned me about backup that time machine does (how I can't browse into the backup any more). I will also validate my backup (specifically restore entire system) and see if I can do it.
     
  10. HyperX13 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2009
    #10
    Interesting restore procedure from time machine:

    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=2007111404402514

    If you need to restore files in your encrypted home directory, the Apple warning is correct in that you can't use the Time Machine application's 'galaxy' interface to do so. However, you can restore them using the Finder.

    Double-click on your backup drive, and you'll see a folder called Backups.backupdb. Double-click it and you'll see a folder with the name of your machine. Double-click that, and you'll see a bunch of folders named with dates and times. Double-click the one from which you want to restore the file(s), and double-click your way down through your startup disk name, then Users, then your username.

    You'll then see a package called username.sparsebundle. Double-click it, enter your login password, and a copy of your home directory will mount. You can drag files off of this copy -- just don't drag any files onto it or delete any files! After you are done, eject the mounted home directory to avoid confusion. There isn't any reason that Apple couldn't automate the restore process; apparently they ran out of time when releasing version 10.5.
     
  11. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #11
    Seems ok so far. Taking a Win 7 VM to and from a suspended state seems to take a bit longer than usual, but once the VM is open performance within it is fine. Working with normal files under OS X apps also seems fine. My photo library is hosted on my Mac Pro, so I'm going to have to create a subset of that library to export and move over to this machine before I can play with Lightroom much.
     
  12. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    Oct 1, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO
    #12
    Be very careful when using any type of file encryption. I had a document folder encrypted once and I lost all everything because the encryption key became corrupt (not sure how). I did some research and found that nothing can be done. I haven't used FileVault and this was using NTFS encryption but that one event has made me very wary of using any type of encryption again if I don't have an unencrypted backup offsite.
     
  13. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #13
    Backups are definitely a key protective element. I'm just thinking of all those security breaches I read about in the newspapers involving poorly protected laptops. I'm not walking around with 500,000 social security accounts on my laptop, but I do have some of my own private information on it that I would prefer be shielded from prying eyes. A login password is insufficient protection.

    I don't plan to encrypt my Mac Pro since it rarely leaves the house..
     
  14. McGilli macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    #14
    I've been using FileVault for over a year - and I see no difference between using it, and not using it.

    I tried it initially with one account on the mac with file-vault - and a copy of that account - just under a different login name with no file-vault. switching between them u can't tell which one has file vault on.

    You can also try TRUE-CRYPT for full disk protection.


    ***the only issue is if you use TIME MACHINE - it doesn't back up your data hourly if you use file vault. it only backs it up as a whole when you log out.

    So - for me - since i only restart when updates require it - sometimes (i am on wireless N) it can take 30 mins for the time machine to back up my changes I have made of the last month or so.

    Still - i've never had a problem, - and i use the password so no one can boot my machine with any external device.

    Plus I have 2 SSD's in a Raid 0 configuration - so the chance of anyone knowing that and getting my data of is practically zilch....
     

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