Data Encryption: Mac FileVault Vs Windows BitLocker

Posted on: 9th May 2018

What is data encryption?

Data encryption works by changing data into another form so that only people with access to a special key or password can read it.

Encrypted data is otherwise known as ciphertext and unencrypted data is referred to as plaintext. Encryption is one of the most popular and effective data security methods used by organisations.

When would we use data encryption? Well, it happens all around us, for example when we log in to a secure website such as your online banking, the connection between you and the website is encrypted so no one can listen in on the data you’re sending.

What is BitLocker?

Image result for bitlocker


BitLocker is Microsoft’s native encryption program for Windows that can encrypt your entire drive as well as help protect against unauthorised changes to your system.

It is designed to stop a user’s data from being viewed, extracted or retrieved in case a drive is stolen. To access the drive in an offline mode, BitLocker requires a recovery key.

BitLocker is generally aimed toward individual users who may fall prey to computer/laptop theft and so is relevant to many different groups of people; students, home users and also business users who may take laptops out of the office.

Bitlocker is available on;

  • Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 8 and 8.1
  • Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions of Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2008 and later

What is FileVault?

FileVault is essentially Apple’s version of BitLocker and is available on machines using OS X Lion or later. FileVault debuted in Mac OS X 10.3 and the earlier versions of FileVault actually only encrypted the user home directory, whereas modern versions of FileVault encrypt the entire hard drive and all its data, making it much more secure than previous versions.

With FileVault you have the choice to either create a Recovery Key or to use your iCloud account as a key to access your data. While FileVault is turned on, your Mac always requires that you log in with your account password.

Data Encryption

So how are they different?

Well, truth be told, there’s not a whole load of difference between the two!

Both encrypt the start-up disk and both use the same type of encryption. The only difference is the recovery methods. With FileVault for Mac, you can link to an iCloud account, or recovery key.

Whereas, with BitLocker you can use a recovery key, but you can also save it in Active Directory with the right addons and setup. There’s also the ability to use Pin, USB Key or password to unlock devices with BitLocker, however FileVault can only be unlocked with a password.

Final thoughts

So, should you start using BitLocker or FileVault? Well, yes!

Data encryption is important for everyone, even though it can seem intimidating for those who may not have a lot of computer experience, or who aren’t confident with using technology, but thankfully, for most users, keeping sensitive data safe is a relatively straightforward process.

If you are unsure of whether you are able to use Bitlocker or FileVault then we can help you with checking that your machine(s) are running on an operating system that is compatible with the encryption software.

We are also able to set up the encryption software for you and provide any other guidance or advice you may require.