Mysterious Multi-Restart Logins Plague File Vault MacBook Users [Updatedx2]



MacBook users are reporting that they are experiencing an issue after installing full disk encryption using File Vault. The problem manifests itself by automatically restarting the MacBook after it is turned on and restarted once already forcing the user to login twice before actually reaching their desk top.

Although the problem doesn’t seem wide-spread it is an interesting one that I am also experiencing on my MacBook Air.  A discussion,  Why does Lion immediately reboot with FileVault Enabled?, on Apple’s Support Community forums describes the problem. Here’s the process peschkaj goes through when the problem manifests itself:

  1. Shutdown the laptop
  2. Do something else (take a nap, eat a sandwich, whatever)
  3. Boot laptop
  4. Log in
    Here I get the little grey pinwheel for a while (30+ seconds, far longer that I’d expect with either a brand new Air or a 2010 MBP 15″)
  5. Experience an immediate reboot.
  6. Log in
  7. ???

In my case on my 2011 MacBook Air I get the Finder desktop when I hit step 7.

It isn’t clear why the problem is occurring, but I also saw a 2010 model 13-inch MacBook Air spontaneously restart three times while sitting at the File Vault login screen (which is different from the normal one) for full disk encryption.  That computer had full disk encryption turned on and once it was shut down it was okay the next time it was turned on. Afterwards it did not spontaneously restart again.

Full disk encryption in Mac OS X Lion using File Vault was one of the biggest things I was looking forward to when I got Lion. However, these weird quirks have made me reconsider using it and so I’ve switched back to using virtual disks to store private information using one of my favorite utilities – TrueCrypt.

Calls to AppleCare and speaking to a Senior Advisor haven’t led to a fix yet and a bug report was submitted to Apple Engineering.

Are you experiencing any problems with File Vault and full disk encryption after upgrading to Mac OS X Lion?

Updated 09/15/2011 at 3:30 AM PDT: According to Cult of Mac readers in the comments section below the problem may be caused by an interaction between Parallels Desktop 6 and 7 and Mac OS X Lion 10.7.1. There is additional discussion on Parallels forums which indicates they are aware of the problem, but it isn’t clear if the person making this statement is a Parallels employee or not. I’ll be testing this theory later today and I’ll reach out to Parallels for comment. I’ll update this post again once I get more information.

Updated 09/22/2011 at 06:03 AM PDT:  Installing the latest version of Parallels Desktop 7 resolved this problem for myself and most users that I’ve spoken too.