Filevault, unvaulted

Even though I ended up having to work while in Japan, I didn’t pack my work laptop, a 15-inch MacBook Pro with all kinds of corporate IP goodness on it. I just took my little 12-inch MacBook, with all kinds of personal goodness on it. So I backed it up three times, encrypted the SSD with Filevault, and took along an encrypted backup drive that I stored in a separate bag.

In theory, between modern CPUs and modern SSDs, the penalty for full-disk encryption should be pretty small. This is sadly untrue for the 12-inch MacBook, even with a Core i7; I could cope with the N% I/O slowdown, but it rippled through the system, causing other things to either slow down or get a touch flaky. The most visible culprit was kernel_task chewing up a lot of CPU, which generally indicates thermal throttling, but the temperature sensors reported all-is-well, so I’m guessing something about Filevault was setting it off. APFS was also getting really sluggish after a few days, requiring reboots.

Now that I’m safely home and more or less caught up on life, I made three backups and turned Filevault off. Currently the system’s grinding away rebuilding the Spotlight indexes (cache-like stuff is skipped in the encryption/decryption process), and kernel_task is nowhere in sight.

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