Compare with FireVault

Too long to read right now? Read only the conclusion.

FireVault logo FireVault

FireVault is disk encryption software that comes built in with a Mac.

With FireVault turned on, when you save a file in a text editor application with some content like Hello world, your Mac encrypts the content before it writes it to the hard disk. So the bits written to the hard disk will be encrypted gibberish like AAAC3NzaC1lU. When you later open the file in your text editor, your Mac automatically reads the encrypted gibberish from the hard disk and displays it in your editor in its original, decrypted form.

The encryption and decryption key used by FireVault is locked behind your Mac’s login password. This key is unlocked when you log in to your Mac.

FireVault strengths

FireVault weaknesses

FireVault screenshot

Algebraic logo Algebraic

Algebraic is a file encryption application. Algebraic can protect your files in the situations described above in which FireVault can’t.

Algebraic works by rewriting the original data in your file (for example, Hello world) into its encrypted form (AAAC3NzaC1lU), based on an encryption password of your choice. Decrypting the data back into its original form requires the password.

Unlike FireVault, Algebraic changes the actual contents of the file as seen by other software on your Mac, so no-one—including malicious software or an adversary—can view your file’s content, even when your Mac is unlocked, without knowing the file’s encryption password.

Algebraic screenshot

Algebraic’s strengths

Algebraic’s weaknesses

Conclusion

FireVault and Algebraic complement each other. They both perform different functions, and they’re designed to protect your data in different scenarios. Most people should use both.

  FireVault logo FireVault Algebraic logo Algebraic
Encryption type Disk encryption File encryption
What does it do Encrypts hard disk Encrypts individual files
Password flexibility Login password only Choose any password
Encryption/decryption is manual No Yes, requires password
Malware can view file data Always Only when file is decrypted
Share encrypted files No Yes

Turn on FireVault as soon as you start using a Mac. Then additionally use Algebraic to encrypt your most sensitive files, such as personal photos, financial documents, or digital IDs.

To turn on FireVault, follow the steps at support.apple.com.

To get started with Algebraic, download it using the button below.