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How to Recover Data From a MacBook

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  1. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Accessing Target Disk Mode: étape 1, image 1 de 1
    • If your device doesn’t boot, but is getting some signs of power, use Target Disk Mode to access your files through another Mac.

    • Power off the machine. Press the power button and then quickly press and hold the T button.

    • Your machine may flash the Apple symbol briefly. If successful, this will be followed by a bouncing logo for FireWire, USB or Thunderbolt depending on the model of your Mac.

  2. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Accessing the Disk Using Target Disk Mode: étape 2, image 1 de 1
    • Use the appropriate cable to connect the two Macs together. This is best accomplished using Thunderbolt, but USB C can be used if your device has these ports.

    • Your Mac's internal drive should appear on your desktop, the same way a flash drive would. You may need to enter your login password to access files.

    • If your Mac contains an Apple Silicon Processor, Target Disk mode is not available. Skip to Share Disk Mode.

    • Devices with Apple Silicon replaced the tried and true Target Disk Mode with the less helpful, but still better than nothing Share Disk Mode.

    • To access Share Disk Mode, you’ll need to get the Mac into Recovery Mode. With your Mac off, press and hold the power button until you see “Loading Startup Options” on screen.

    • Select “Options” on the startup menu screen.

    • If prompted, enter the password for an Administrator account.

    • Now you’re in Recovery Mode!

    • Now that you’re in Recovery mode we’ll need to enable the Share Disk function. Use the menu bar at the top edge of the screen and select “Utilities.”

    • Select “Share Disk” from the drop down menu.

    • In the Window that appears, indicate which volume you want to share and click “Start Sharing.”

    • Ensure your two Macs are connected with a Thunderbolt cable.

    • On the Mac receiving the shared access, open a Finder window and go to Network in the sidebar.

    • Your source Mac should should up here. Select it and click the “Connect As” button in the upper right corner.

    • Select Guest in the Connect As window and then click the “Connect” button to confirm.

    • Files from the source Mac should be accessible and can be transferred to another location.

  3. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Terminal or Single User Mode: étape 6, image 1 de 1
    • This method is a bit more advanced, but will fit the bill if you don't have access to another Mac. We'll be using recovery mode for this Guide, but Single User Mode would also work if your machine will not boot to Recovery.

    • Single User Mode can be accessed by pressed CMD + S at power on. It boots directly to a command line interface. It is not available in its legacy form on any Macs with a T2 chip, or Apple Silicon processor. Use Recovery Mode for those.

    • First you'll need to connect a flash drive to your Mac and boot to Recovery, or Single User Mode.

    • This process requires knowing the exact file path of the folder(s) you want to copy, as well as the name your flash drive uses.

    • If you do not know exact file paths, use the pwd, ls, and cd commands to explore your file directory. If you are not familiar with these commands, do some quick reading to get the basics.

  4. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Terminal or Single User Mode - Copying Your Data: étape 7, image 1 de 1
    • When in Recovery Mode, select Utilities on the Menu bar at the top of the display.

    • Click Terminal in the drop down that appears.

    • If you know, or have already found the exact file path for the folders you want, use the rsync or cp commands to copy the contents from your Mac's storage, to the connected destination.

    • The necessary command will look something like rsync -r /Volumes/"Name of your Boot Disk"/Users/useraccountname /Volumes/"Name of your External Drive"

    • Make sure to keep the quotations around the names of any folders with spaces in the names. A space is also required between the source folder and the destination to differentiate between the two.

  5. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, External Hard Drive Enclosure: étape 8, image 1 de 3 How to Recover Data From a MacBook, External Hard Drive Enclosure: étape 8, image 2 de 3 How to Recover Data From a MacBook, External Hard Drive Enclosure: étape 8, image 3 de 3
    • If your MacBook contains a removable hard drive you can use an enclosure to house the hard drive and connect it to another Mac to extract the data.

    • Use the Hard Drive Replacement Guide for your model to extract the drive.

    • Various adapters and enclosures are available for the different drive form factors. Be sure to read the fine print to ensure your drive will function. Even if it fits, it may not be compatible.

    • Enclosure for 2.5" SATA style hard drives.

    • Enclosure for early blade style SSDs

    • Enclosure for newer blade style SSDs

    • If your MacBook is a 2016 Pro or a 2018 Air or newer, storage will likely be soldered to the board and cannot be extracted in this way.

    • The 2016-2017 Function Keys MacBook Pro does have a removable drive, but adapters are not available. To extract data you will need to install the drive into a similar MacBook.

  6. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Customer Data Migration Tool - What Is This Port?: étape 9, image 1 de 1
    • On Touch Bar variants of the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros, Apple included a port on the logic board which taps into the soldered on storage.

    • To combat inaccessibility of user data in the case of board failure, Apple also produced a tool specifically for retrieving data via this port.

    • Apple themselves, or Authorized Service Providers are the most reliable way of getting data via this tool. They alone have access to its direct purchase.

    • Although exclusively available for Authorized use, these do crop up occasionally on eBay or other online marketplaces . You'll need to look for a 076-00236 Customer Data Migration Tool.

    • Be warned, they are often extremely expensive due to their rarity on the open market.

  7. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Using the Customer Migration Tool: étape 10, image 1 de 3 How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Using the Customer Migration Tool: étape 10, image 2 de 3 How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Using the Customer Migration Tool: étape 10, image 3 de 3
    • Disconnect the battery for the machine whose data needs extraction.

    • Battery disconnect for the 15" MacBook Pro

    • Battery disconnect for the 13" MacBook Pro

    • Remove the two T3 screws holding in the LifeBoat Connector. Note the slightly different locations of the port on the 13" versus the 15" models.

    • The tool itself consists of a box with three points of connection. One for power, one to tap into the faulty logic board, and one to connect the faulty board to a known good Mac for data transfer.

    • Connect the cable to the open port on the Mac in need of data extraction and then Thunderbolt cable to the destination or conduit Mac before connecting the power cable to the Migration Tool.

    • If the storage is functional on the Mac, it will appear on the good Mac as an external drive.

  8. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, DFU mode: étape 11, image 1 de 1
    • As it currently stands, this method is only available from Apple or an Authorized Service Provider, due to its reliance on proprietary software tools, but its existence warrants acknowledgement.

    • All Mac devices with a T2 chip can make use of the method. The device does not need to be able to power up all the way, but it does require the Mac be capable of accessing Direct Firmware Upgrade, or DFU Mode.

    • While in DFU mode, Apple's tool loads software onto the device which allows the internal storage to be accessed.

    • If you take the device to Apple or an Authorized Service Provider for potential repair, ask about this process. It is under utilized and the technician you work with may not offer it without prompting.

    • Devices which make use of Apple Silicon processors, do not have this option.

  9. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Logic Board Repair: étape 12, image 1 de 1
    • There is a common misconception that if a logic board is damaged or faulty, your data is "just gone," or that you need to send out to pricey data recovery specialists to get your files back.

    • There is a whole industry of local repair technicians fixing logic boards for the sole purpose of recovering data.

    • Ultimately, you'll need to repair the fault preventing the device from powering on or booting to recovery the data.

    • This will likely require microsoldering. If you don’t know what this means, you may not have the knowledge or tools undertake this repair. If you’re curious and want to know more about getting into micro soldering, here’s some good reading and some good watching to get you started.

    • If you do not have experience in microsoldering or troubleshooting board level problems, leave this one to an expert. Boards can be damaged beyond repair. Where data is concerned, it's not worth making an avoidable mistake due to lack of knowledge.

  10. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Getting Your Data - Using Migration Assistant: étape 13, image 1 de 1
    • Once your machine is in a state where data is accessible, there are a few ways to retrieve it that aren’t just dragging and dropping every file or folder you want onto another storage medium.

    • If you want to transfer entire user accounts, apps and settings included, Migration Assistant is Apple’s tool for doing this.

    • Using Migration Assistant is possible with all methods outlined in this Guide aside from using Terminal commands. Terminal will bypass the need for this and copy items directly.

    • This method does not apply for Apple Silicon Macs since Share Disk Mode does allow to attached device to be recognized as a startup disk.

  11. How to Recover Data From a MacBook, Getting Your Data - Cloning Your Disk: étape 14, image 1 de 1
    • If you want to make a solid back up of your whole drive without restoring it to a new machine, this is your best option.

    • There are a couple ways to accomplish this, but either one will require another Mac and a destination drive to clone the one from the dysfunctional machine onto.

    • Apple built this capability into the Disk Utility App right in macOS. In most current versions of the operating system, it works best if done from Internet Recovery to avoid any background access to the disks.

    • You can use this method without installing the OS on the target drive as well, but the result will not be bootable.

    • Third party software also exists if Disk Utility does not work, or gives an error, but this software may not be free.

    • Assuming your hard drive is functioning properly, you can use it as an external startup disk.

    • This applies if your drive is an external enclosure, or if your Mac is in target disk mode depending on the model and versions of macOS—newer versions of either may disable this option.

    • On the working Mac your disk or device is connected to, press and hold the Option key as you power on. This should bring you to the startup disk selection menu.

    • In the list of startup disk options select the connected disk.

    • Booting may take much longer with this method due to lower available bandwidth with this sort of connection.

    • Once booted, you can use Time Machine to make a full backup of your device as though it were functioning normally.


With any luck, you’ve now got copies of whatever files you absolutely need or a full backup of your device.

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