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I have my Time Machine backups going to an external disk, and all of it is encrypted with FileVault2. I plan to do a fresh install of Mavericks on my local hard drive, but before wiping the disk, I want to make sure that I can still access my Time Machine backups.

As mentioned in this other SO post, I should be able to use my FV key (and I vaguely remember using my account username/password to access data), but I want to be 100% sure.

Short of plugging this external drive into a separate OS X box (which I don't have), what else can I do to trigger the prompt for password/FV key/etc? Would creating a new user on my machine be enough? Is there some Mavericks LiveCD mode (i.e. like Ubuntu)?

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You can confirm this by booting from the Recovery Partition on the Time Machine disk and choosing to restore from a backup (without proceeding with the restore).

Here are the steps:

  • Connect the external hard disk with the encrypted Time Machine backup
  • Boot (or reboot) the system and during startup hold the Option key so that it shows you the list of available volumes to boot from
  • Select the Recovery HD from the Time Machine disk to boot from it
  • Choose Restore From Time Machine Backup from the list of actions
  • Select the encrypted Time Machine volume from the list
  • Enter the Fila Vault 2 password when prompted
  • Wait for it to show the list of available backups from the Time Machine volume
  • Restart the system now that you have verified the availability of the backup
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you could delete the key in your keychain. After plugin the disk back in, the password prompt should pop up

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  • While this is good, part of my concern is that I saved the wrong key/password for the Time Machine backups, so before deleting/clearing anything from Keychain, I best confirm I have access :) – Dolan Antenucci Oct 28 '13 at 13:14

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