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)?


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

you could delete the key in your keychain. After plugin the disk back in, the password prompt should pop up

  • 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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