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EncFS Performance

EncFS runs in user-space while eCryptfs runs in the kernel. This is why it is often assumed that eCryptfs is faster than EncFS. To compare the actual performance of EncFS and eCryptfs on top of different backing disks, the EncFS test suite contains an automated performance test - takes care of setting up EncFS and eCryptfs mounts, clearing caches and syncing disks between the tests, and also to unmount and clean up everything in the end.

It performance the following tests:

  • stream_write: Write 100MB of zeros in 4KB blocks
  • extract: Extract the linux-3.0.tar.gz archive
  • du: Disk space used after extraction, in megabytes
  • rsync: Do an "rsync -an" of the extracted files. This simulates an rsync to a destination that is (almost) up-to-date. The workload consists mostly of stat() calls.
  • delete: Recursively delete the extracted files

For EncFS, the default options are used. This means:

  • AES with 192 bit key
  • Filename encryption

For eCryptfs, the options used are

  • AES with 128 bit key
  • Filename encryption

For all the details, take a look at .


The performance of an overlay filesystem depends a lot on the performance of the backing disk. This is why I have tested three different kinds of disk:

  • Classic HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9, model ST3250824AS
  • Modern SSD: Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
  • Ramdisk: tmpfs mounted on /tmp

All tests are performed on kernel 3.16.3, 64 bit, on an Intel Pentium G630 (Sandy Bridge, 2 x 2.7GHz).

If you want to replicate the test, just run

sudo tests/ /path/to/test/directory

(the test must be run as root as normal users cannot mount ecryptfs or clear the caches)

  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9
Test EncFS eCryptfs EncFS advantage
stream_write 32 MiB/s 38 MiB/s 0.84
extract 28744 ms 30027 ms 1.04
du 495 MB 784 MB 1.58
rsync 3319 ms 62486 ms 18.83
delete 6462 ms 74652 ms 11.55
  • SSD: Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB
Test EncFS eCryptfs EncFS advantage
stream_write 53 MiB/s 75 MiB/s 0.71
extract 26129 ms 9692 ms 0.37
du 495 MB 784 MB 1.58
rsync 2725 ms 8210 ms 3.01
delete 5444 ms 9130 ms 1.68
  • Ramdisk: tmpfs
Test EncFS eCryptfs EncFS advantage
stream_write 82 MiB/s 111 MiB/s 0.74
extract 22393 ms 8117 ms 0.36
du 485 MB 773 MB 1.59
rsync 1931 ms 740 ms 0.38
delete 4346 ms 907 ms 0.21


eCryptfs uses a large per-file header (8 KB) which is a big disadvantage on classic HDDs. For stat()-heavy operations on HDDs, EncFS is 18x faster.

EncFS stores small files much more efficiently, which is why it consitently uses less space than eCryptfs: zero-size files take no space at all, other files get a 8-byte header. Because the filesystem allocates space in 4KB blocks, the actually used disk space must be rounded up to 4096.

plaintext size EncFS raw EncFS du eCryptfs raw eCryptfs du
0 0 0 8192 8192
1 9 4096 12288 12288
1024 1032 4096 12288 12288
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