Ubuntu 9.04 Home Encryption Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 7 December 2008 at 09:06 AM EST. Page 5 of 5. 21 Comments.

The IOzone read performance was not as negatively impacted as was the write. The read performance had just dropped from 42.70MB/s to 40.13MB/s.

When using PBZIP2 compression of files, GnuPG file encryption, and Bork File Encrypter, the performance had dropped dramatically when the user's home directory was encrypted. On the other hand, when using GCC to compile programs (such as ImageMagick and Apache), encode audio and video files, and use Sunflow Rendering System, there was a minimal impact on the overall system performance. In our testing though we were using an AMD quad-core processor, but if you are using a slower single or dual core system, you will likely notice greater slowdowns in real-world applications.

The IOzone tests show that the write performance on an unencrypted user home directory is about 2.5x faster than using the eCryptfs implementation to be found in Ubuntu 9.04, but the read performance was not impacted by nearly as much.

Even though you may notice some slowdowns, we would still recommend at least encrypting the user's home directory (if not the entire file-system) on mobile devices whether it be notebooks or netbooks. We will be delivering some benchmarks soon that do look at the home encryption feature when running on an Atom-powered netbook. Those with desktops should be able to get by with this feature enabled while not significantly sacrificing performance unless you deal heavily with encrpyting, compressing, or otherwise manipulating very large files constantly.

If you would like to see how your computer performs with these tests, after installing the Phoronix Test Suite, run phoronix-test-suite benchmark phorocrypt-16497-10491-19665.

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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.