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MacBook's Soldered SSD Could Impede Data Recovery

Apple’s products divide people. You get those who will commit to anything the company release, ready to lap up the next phone or tablet; you also get those who stay far away from them, refusing to buy into the brand. The company’s 2016 MacBook Pro release has received a mixed response, with some praising new features like the Touch Bar and others disliking the lack of ports.

Website iFixit recently took apart the new line of MacBooks to discover how easy it would be to repair them and found something worrying in those versions with a Touch Bar. Amongst other components, the SSDs in both the 13-inch and 15-inch models are soldered in. This means they cannot be removed from the system, therefore aren’t replaceable if it breaks or upgradable to a higher storage amount.

However, perhaps most worrying is that it makes data recovery a much more complicated process. Whereas with other laptops or systems you’d be able to disconnect the drive and mount it elsewhere to attempt recovery, that’s not going to be possible with the SSDs inside the MacBook Pro.

While unpacking the system, iFixit noticed that the SSD had a connector that didn’t lead to anything. There’s speculation that this has been include so that Apple will be able to connect to it and attempt data recovery. But there’s the problem: it means you need to take your laptop to Apple and let them try to repair it. If you’re outside of warranty, then you can bet that’ll cost you a pretty penny.

Apple have long had a history of wanting to limit the customisation options in their systems. Take the iPhone, for example, which has never allowed you to change the battery or use external storage, despite the majority of other phones on the market offering this as standard.

If this is a problem for you then you’ll want to stay away from the MacBooks with the Touch Bar. The entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro allows you to replace the SSD yourself, so if you want to keep in the Apple ecosystem then that’s the better option to go for.

If you do have a new MacBook and are worried about this, you need to ensure that you have a solid backup plan in place. In fact, you should be doing this regardless of your system. Never leave the recovery of your data in someone else’s hands – take preventive measures and take constant backups. This will mean you always have a copy of your data to fall back on.

Bear in mind, however, that even with a backup copy of your data, you still won’t be able to use your MacBook Pro if the SSD fails. Remember, it’s soldered into the machine, so you can’t switch it out. You’ll either need Apple to repair the drive, if possible, or pay them for a new drive and the costs associated to fit it. With all of this considered, you might decide that the brand new MacBook Pro isn’t worth your time.


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