Secure Erase after File Vault Encryption - progress stopped?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by acyclone99, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. acyclone99 macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2010
    Company policy - encrypt hard drive. I'm running OS 10.6.4 on a 2009 MacBook Pro

    I turned on File Vault and it encrypted the Home Folders. I checked the option to securely erase the Previous Home folder. Once encryption finished the system began the secure erase. During the Secure Erase I could go to the Security button on System Preferences and see that the secure erase was making progress. There is a line on the window that says: "Securely Erasing Previous Home Folder 10% complete." The percentage slowly incremented every 20-30 minutes. After work I enabled Insomnia (like Caffiene), closed the laptop and put it in my bag so the computer could continue the erase during the drive home. When I arrived and opened my bag the laptop had overheated. It was too hot to touch. The machine was off. I let it cool and booted back up and was able to log in.

    Performance had been slow all during the Secure Erase. That's understandable since the machine is burning up the hard drive (though for some reason the disk IO meter on Activity Monitor was not as high as I expected.) Upon a reboot the secure_erase process continued to run as it had before. I noticed that the process would cycle. It would idle near 2% and then a few minutes later it would spike and remain around 94% and a few minutes drop down. This repeated continually.

    The problem was that after the crash the message on the System Preferences did not increment. It has been stuck on 42% (where it was when the computer shut down from overheating). The secure_erase process remains running. I logged out and logged in. Process continues to run. I shut down and restarted. The process continues to run after booting back up. I Forced Quit the process (probably not a good idea but I got desperate), and the secure_erase process respawned.

    I noticed in Activity Monitor that my disk usage had spiked from 101 GB to 215 GB. I learned from reading that this is how the OS erases securely - writing and deleting sparse images. I left the computer on overnight and the usage has fallen back to 157 GB. (Free space increasing, usage falling.) Usage continues to fall very slowly. Therefore it does appear that something is going on. I am concerned, however, because the progress on the System Preferences is no longer incrementing - stuck at 42%. I did look for the spare image files, but the different sites that say where they the files reside are dated. I could not find the files in my version 10.6.4 of the OS.

    I performed several searches and all I could find was people talking about the problems they have logging in when Secure Erase is interrupted. Fortunately I do not have that problem. The system works, albeit slowly.

    I'm wondering if there is any way to know what is actually going on with the secure erase process. Can I tell if it is really getting close to finished?

    One other issue. I have an SSD and am concerned that this secure erase is burning though the drive's life. I assumed the OS would be "smart" enough to know that I have an SSD and not a platter. I think that was a foolish assumption. My preference would be to just kill the secure erase if I could do it in a way that it won't return.

    Any suggestions?
  2. acyclone99 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2010
    Update - I left the process running. Performance on the machine was horrible. Then magically about 7 hours later progress continued 43 then 44 then 50. Now up to 78% erased. The machine is more responsive. The answer to my problem, it seems, is to wait. Also it appears that OS 10.6.4 is more resilient to system shutdowns and log offs than prior versions. I'm not suggesting you do it, but if it happens the system appears to continue to work.

    Note - don't start this process unless you can stand to go 48+ hours without using your machine.
  3. pxjenkins macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2010
    restart while secure erasing

    I just had a similar issue. Left my Macbook Air secure erasing the home folder overnight. Could not wake it from sleep this morning, so had to hard restart using power button. Secure Erase proceeding normally, though slowly. Activity Monitor shows it using between 40-60% of CPU.

    Perhaps it might have been an idea to untick 'put HD to sleep when possible' in Energy Saver Prefs.

    Anyway, all seems well so far...

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