I am installing Debian wheezy on some laptops. I have one large partition of about 750GB and a 4GB swap partition. I enabled encryption on both partitions and am now in the midst of the encryption process.

The installation is at the Erasing data on SCSI3 (0,0,0), partition #1 (sda) step, and has been for the last 18 hours. The progress bar is only at the 50% point.

  1. Why does this step so long?

  2. Is there anything I can do to speed up this process? (I have to do this with other laptops.)

  • Move to another laptop. It shouldn't take 18 hours, this indicates, a problem with the HDD itself – Ramhound Sep 5 '13 at 16:27
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    @Ramhound 18 hours seems typical to me to write random data to every single block on a 750gb drive. What kind of speeds are you getting? A 3TB drive took a couple days when I let the pre-wipe run a few months ago. – Zoredache Sep 5 '13 at 17:00
  • @Zoredache - Just seems strange i am able to enable Bitlocker on my 1TB external USB HDD in a matter of hours though. The pre-wipe doesn't seem to be much benefit to security overall if the entire disk is encrypted. This means the previous data that existed is also encrypted, even if its marked as deleted, by the operating system. – Ramhound Sep 5 '13 at 17:27

Why does this step so long?

It is assuming you might have had information previously on the drive that needs to be secure, so it is over-writing the entire drive with random data. If you have a larger drive, this is going to take a long time.

Is there anything I can do to speed up this process? (I have to do this with other laptops.)

Skip it, you are given that option.

If you are on a new drive there is was no data there.

If you are re-using a drive an evil person might be able recover data that hasn't been over-written yet. But it would take a lot of effort to attempt this.

If you skip the pre-wipe you can also deal with it after the fact assuming your encrypted volume takes up the all the drive space. Just fill up the filesystem after the install is done (Ref).

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    In Debian 8, clicking "Cancel" during the "Erasing ..." phase will only skip the pre-wipe. Setup continues as you would expect/hope. A "Skip" button would have made me feel better about clicking it but all-is-well. – Jeremy Cook Jul 12 '16 at 4:52
  • Thanks @JeremyCook - I have a Debian VM installed and without bypassing encryption the dynamic disk ends up taking up its entire allocated space. Didn't realize I could 'cancel' and just skip the wipe. – michel-slm Dec 6 '18 at 18:29

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