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Always when I install Linux OS (e.g. Ubuntu), there is a possibility to encrypt the home directory. I was asking myself why is this useful.

Is it good in the case when my harddrive is corrupted and I have to go to my manufacturer and let the harddrive at him for about a month for the reparation or exchange? He can't decrypt my data? Naturally, I can't bring the harddrive to him in this state.

What are the disadvantages of encryption of home directory when using it every day?

I was inspired by the question How do I get rid of a hard disk without exposing my source code?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

What you described is the use case of using home encryption. There is a lot of sensitive data stored in other areas, so encrypting home doesn't really give you much protection, but well, it's better than nothing.

The disadvantages are kind of obvious:

  • if you forget your password you will never get access to your data
  • you have to enter the password every time you log in
  • if you don't have a modern Intel CPU with the AES instruction, you will notice a big performance hit
  • recovering corrupted filesystem can be harder with encryption (two layers that can get corrupted instead of one)
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Would you know yet, what is the chance, that the manufacturer will decrypt some files stored in the home directory? If it even has sense to encrypt home dir against this case. – xralf Jun 4 '12 at 14:46
@xralf If you will use a proper password, then decrypting an AES partition is still not practically possible. – Let_Me_Be Jun 4 '12 at 23:44

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