Apple macOS

Time Machine Encryption Slow Takes Too Long

Time Machine encryption can take literally days to complete. How do you speed this up?

The problem is here: It is common and logical to follow the pattern:

  • Format a drive “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”
  • Select that disk in Time Machine and select “Encrypt backups”.

Time Machine will perform the first backup (unencrypted) on the drive, then after it finishes, it will begin this long process of encrypting the drive. This is the routine that can take multiple days, even if your first backup was only a few gigabytes. This sucks.

The faster technique is in Disk Utility to:

  • Format the drive “Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)” (which only takes a few seconds)
  • Select that disk in Time Machine and select “Encrypt backups”.

Time machine will perform the backup on the encrypted disk and will be done immediately after.

Hope this saves you some time!

16 replies on “Time Machine Encryption Slow Takes Too Long”

I did as you suggested and encrypted first but it still tries to encrypt the disk every time I do another backup… and yet it seems to be on track to take multiple days to finish.

My problem – I created a Time Machine using the “common/logical” method and backed up 800GB on A 4 TB HD – after 24 hrs it was still encrypting and was only about 25% complete.

Then I found you article . I reformatted the HD and created a Time Machine using the method that you suggested. Worked great. Only 4 hours for entire backup/encryption.

Thank you so much for sharing.

I’m having the issue but don’t want to format and encrypt, because I have a lot of old computer data also on that disk. When it eventually finishes encryption will future backups be faster? Or is it this style of encryption every backup? It’s been multiple days and at encrypting 48% currently for a 1TB drive -> 4TB external drive.

So if I already have a backup on my external hard drive, when I go into Disk Utility under “External,” Am I deleting the name of backup itself (sub tab)?

I created my TM backup disk as Journaled and Encrypted, but TM still insists on a multi-day encryption process. Why is it trying to encrypt data on an encrypted disk?! Seems to work for other, but not for me for some reason.

Just wondering, if the disk is encrypted initially before taking the first back up, what is the point of selecting “encrypt” in the Time Machine setup as the disk is already encrypted? Are you not double-dipping?

I plugged in my External Hard Drive for a routine backup. My issue was that it was my first time taking a backup on my new computer (I had transferred my data over previously). It’s been stuck encrypting the backup disk for over 24 hours. How would I go about “killing” the in progress encryption, reformatting, then setting up the disk again?

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