(08) 6180 6959 [email protected]
In the windows world data recovery from a laptop or desktop is usually an uncomplicated affair. You can simply remove the drive be it a SSD drive with an M2 interface  , see pic below left or an SSD or spinning  drive        connected to a SATA interface , see pic below right.  You can then simply place these in another Windows PC or laptop to test, diagnose or clone.
Data recovery M2 SSD
Data Recovery Sata Drive
The same however is not true in the Apple world. The picture bottom left is of a proprietary Solid State drive found in Macs  and Macbooks between 2013 and 2019, I have discussed before the range of proprietary SSD’s found in Macs see here The Imac presents a couple of problems the first being is that instead of screws holding the display to the aluminium body. A glass cover is bonded to the  display and the glass is adhered to the aluminium body with double sided tape. To get at the drives you need to remove the glass which can be painful with the larger 27 inch Imacs. In addition many I macs have a fusion drive setup which is a combo of a small ssd and a spinning drive which cannot be separated see here
Data Recovery proprietary SSD
data recovery imac

Install Mac OS to USB Drive

The best way to diagnose and recover data when we run into the problems we see above is to install an OS onto a portable USB drive. We can install an OS onto a Mac using Recovery mode. To do this you press and hold the Command and R buttons during start up until you hear the startup chime and see either a spinning globe or Apple logo.

  1. After start up in Recovery mode a macOS Utilities window will open, see pic below, on which you will see the options to Restore From Time Machine Backup, Reinstall macOS [version], Safari (or Get Help Online in older versions) and Disk Utility. Your next step depends on whether you wish to wipe the Mac before reinstalling the operating system. If you want to wipe your disk click Disk Utility (otherwise you can .
data recovery
  • Select  Disk Utility, click Continue.
  • Now select the volume you wish to Erase.  If you are running macOS Catalina or Big Sur. If you aren’t running Catalina then you only need to delete the Macintosh HD volume. If you are running Catalina or later there will be two volumes probably called Macintosh HD and Macintosh HD-Data (or possibly Home and Home – Data). You’ll need to delete the Data volume first and then Macintosh HD. We cover how to do this here: How to wipe and reformat your Mac.
  • Later versions of the MACOS eg Catalina, Mojave, Big Sur, Monterey, and potentially High Sierra require the  APFS file system. On older Macs rthe the drive should be formatted  Mac OS Extended (Journaled). You will also need to have GUID Partition Table selected as the Scheme.
  • Click Erase and wait. (There are options under Security Options that allow you to erase the disk securely).
  • Now choose Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility. Or just Command + Q.


  • Now select Reinstall macOS, and click Continue.
  • To reinstall macOS using Recovery mode you have to connect to the internet. Follow these steps to connect to the internet in Recovery mode if your Mac hasn’t automatically connected:
    • Click the Wi-Fi menu in the upper-right corner of the screen.
    • Select a Wi-Fi network.
    • Enter the Wi-Fi password (if required).

    Recovery mode should now be connected to the internet and be able to download the macOS installation software.

Diagnose internal Drive

While in Disk Utility you should check that the internal hard drive is detected and see if First Aid can be performed.

mac data recovery


While in Disk Utility you scan also check the SMART status of the drive. If there any errors accumulating the SMART status will indicate this and help inform of the need for recovery and replacement of drive.

failing hard drive


My preferred recovery tool is RSTUDIO.  I won’t show you how to install RStudio for MAC but I will go through the basic steps to perform a recovery. So we have installed a MacOS on a usb drive  and we are now ready to scan are non booting MAC with Rstudio.  In the picture below we have selected  to scan the internal 512gb SSD  and told rstudio to look for the APFS or HFS filesystems.



hard drive data recovery
Data Recovey Software rstudio

It’s possible that the filesystem on the drive has become corrupt and is not recoverable. An alternative is to scan the whole drive sector by sector to allow the recovery of files of a certain type eg jpgs.  This is called a Raw Recovery.

Data Recovery software rstudio



126 Whatley Crescent Maylands

call:(08) 6180 6959

126 Whatley Crescent


6 Days a week from 8:00am - 5:00pm