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Is Data Recovery Impossible On A 2018 MacBook Pro?

We all know that data should be backed up to protect against disaster. Nevertheless, there’s a reason that data recovery is a thing – mistakes happen. However, if you’re using the 2018 model of a MacBook Pro, you might find those mistakes harder to come back from than others.

The MacBook Pro with Touch Bar first hit the market back in 2016. It’s a neat feature from the innovative tech giant, though it had a questionable drawback. It was soon discovered that the laptops had SSDs which couldn’t be removed because they were soldered to the logic board.

Some were worried that if the logic board failed, data recovery wouldn’t be possible. Happily, these concerns were unfounded. Apple has a device for 2016 and 2017 models of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that allows certified service providers to recover data when the logic board fails, providing the SSD itself is unharmed.

The device transfers data from a broken logic boar to a functional one on another MacBook pro. It connects to a data recovery port on the failed logic board, with the functional MacBook Pro then hooking in with a USB-C cable.

At that point, the transfer is a breeze. The functional laptop is turned on and Migration Assistant, the on-board application, then processes the data transfer like it normally would.

It’s still harder than it should be – making that SSD removable would be the best – and it’s not error prone either. Nevertheless, it was good that it was available as an option. That seems to have changed with the 2018 model of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Apple have removed the data recovery connector from the logic board, implying the Customer Data Migration Tool can’t be used. Sources told MacRumors that data can’t be recovered after a logic board failure.

This is also supported by the fact that Apple’s internal Service Readiness Guide advises telling customers to use Time Machine frequently to back up. Also, its internal Customer Data Migration Tool document has not been updated to account for the 2018 MacBook Pro.

This inability to recover data on the newer models is likely down to the fact that the newer models use Apple’s custom T2 chip, which provides hardware encryption for the SSD. A definite benefit, but at the cost of data recovery.

While Apple themselves might not be able to help you recover data, third-party specialists might. They will have advanced and specialised methods inaccessible to the standard consumer.

“DriveSavers has been very successful in recovering data from the 2018 model as well as all others. It is worth noting that customers need to send us the whole device to complete the data recovery service,” said Mike Cobb, DriveSavers Director of Engineering, in a statement to MacRumors.

All said, try not to get into a situation where you even need to entertain the idea of data recovery. Keep everything backed up constantly, across multiple locations, and your data won’t go the way of the dodo.


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