The Cost Of Home Directory Encryption & LUKS Full Disk Encryption On Ubuntu 18.04

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 9 February 2018 at 11:00 AM EST. Page 1 of 5. 33 Comments.

With many of you likely upgrading to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS upon release and the recommendation to use disk encryption as important as ever on any important system especially laptops/ultrabooks, here are some fresh benchmarks using a development snapshot of Ubuntu 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" and looking at the current performance overhead of using the current "home directory encryption" and "full disk encryption" options available to Ubuntu Linux users.

I certainly recommend using full-disk encryption on any system containing sensitive information, particularly laptops/ultrabooks that you may be taking around with you. There is also the recent news of System76 looking at using disk encryption by default with their future systems on Pop!_OS. So I decided to run some fresh benchmarks seeing what the current performance impact looks like with Linux disk encryption.

After first doing a clean Ubuntu 18.04 daily install without any encryption, I then did a fresh install while opting for the eCryptfs-based home directory encryption...

And then another fresh re-install but this time opting for the LUKS-based full-disk encryption. Full-disk encryption offers much greater protection than just your home directory and is what I personally use on business systems.

Ubuntu 18.04 Disk Encryption Benchmarks

While the Phoronix Test Suite was running these various benchmarks, it was also monitoring the CPU utilization to show how the CPU usage was different with these encryption options on the EXT4 file-system. The default location for Phoronix Test Suite benchmarks to be installed is within the home directory. For making these test results applicable, I used a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop with a modest Core i7 5600U Broadwell CPU and 128GB Samsung SATA 3.0 SSD.

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