Is Knox compatible with Time Machine?

I have been using FiveVault full disc encryption on my MacBook Air but I am interested in encrypting individual folders. I read a positive review about Knox on TopTen Reviews but there is one important detail that is not mentioned in the review and also not on your website: Is Knox compatible with TimeMachine or an I required to run a separate backup for folders encrypted with Knox? (I am running El Capitan).

Thank you!


  • What does "Body it required

  • Hello @beckeno7! Thanks for your interest in Knox. :)

    Time Machine is not a good match for Knox vaults, and we actually recommend disabling their backup in Time Machine preferences and using Knox’s own backup feature to schedule their backups. As you mentioned, you can (and probably should) back up the backups that Knox creates to Time Machine, however. Put the backups in a separate folder from the actual Knox vaults on your Mac so you can exclude just the vaults themselves from Time Machine while still backing up the vault backups.

    My colleague @Andrew_AG wrote a helpful FAQ I actually referenced myself quite a bit when I was learning the ropes of Knox that you may find informative as you decide upon whether or not Knox is for you:

    Let me know if you have any follow-up questions!

  • Hi @SeanFoster . Can you explain why it's not a good match for Time Machine? Knox vaults are just sparse bundle disk images. Are those types of disk images incompatible with Time Machine?

  • Hello @hpwooten, the reason we recommend excluding Knox from Time Machine backups is they can cause trouble if the vault is open during the backup. What you can do is have Knox itself do automated backups (set the backup timing and location under "Knox > Preferences... > Backups" from the Menubar in Knox), and as long as they're in a separate folder from the Knox vaults themselves you can include these backups in your Time Machine backups.

    In theory, if your Knox vault is not opened during the Time Machine backup it would be fine but as Time Machine has a tendency to make regular incremental backups as you use your Mac, as a precaution to avoid even the possibility of data corruption, we recommend excluding Knox vaults from Time Machine, but copies of Knox’s own backups in Time Machine should be perfectly fine. :)

  • @SeanFoster Does that mean that the vault will be backed up in its entirety every time? So if I have a 500MB vault, all 500MB will get backed up every time Knox makes a new copy? Is there a way to do it incrementally, or is that what causes the risk of corruption?

  • Yes, because of the format that Knox vaults use, there's no easy way to do incremental backups of just the updated files in a Knox vault to Time Machine. So it will have to back up the whole Knox vault backup anytime a change is made.

    Knox uses Apple's "sparse bundle" technology for it’s vaults. Sparse bundles should always be excluded from Time Machine and other backup/sync products specifically because if they are currently mounted by OS X at the time of a backup, any utility that backs it up will appear to "succeed" but data integrity is not guaranteed. At some point you** may** end up with a sparse bundle that cannot be mounted if it is restored. This is only a possibility, not a guarantee but we prefer to recommend caution when it comes to valuable data. That's one of the prime reasons why Knox's built-in backups will always close/dismount the vault: it makes the resulting backup a consistently valid copy of the original.

This discussion has been closed.