How to Recover Lost Data from T2-Secured MacBook Pro/Air?

By Vivian | Posted to Mac Data Recovery Tips on May 14th, 2020 |

Summary: This page is about how to recover data from MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 2018, 2019, and later that has a T2 security chip. T2 chip data recovery when MacBook won't turn on is possible now.

Although Mac notebooks have gained a reputation for their performance and beauty, more and more people find a drawback in MacBook Pro and MacBook Air introduced in 2018 and later. That is, when a MacBook with T2 chip won't turn on after water damage or system crash, data recovery is nearly impossible.

What makes data recovery from MacBook 2018 and 2019 so difficult is a hardware component called Apple's T2 security chip inside the machine.  But how T2 chip prevents data recovery from the internal HD or SSD?

Table of contents
1. Apple’s T2 security chip and T2 chip data recovery
2. How to recover data from MacBook Pro/Air 2018 and later?
3. How to disable secure boot T2-secured Macs?

Apple's T2 security chip and T2 chip data recovery

To get this whole issue straight, the necessary part to know is how the T2 chip makes differences, and what are them.

Let's start with a closer look at Apple's T2 security chip.

What does the T2 chip do?

Apple's T2 security chip is a custom silicon for Mac, building on its predecessor, the T1 chip. The second generation is redesigned for delivering more new capabilities as the following.

appple's T2 security chip

  • Using the Touch Bar of MacBook Pro with T2 chip becomes safer, because this chip can better protect the Touch ID fingerprint.
  • The FaceTime HD camera will work better in face detection for the image signal processor in the T2 security chip.
  • Users now can invoke Siri on Macs with T2 chip by saying "Hey Siri" as the audio controller is introduced.
  • The the System Management Controller inside the chip helps control of Mac's battery charging, sleeping and waking up for better performance.
  • The T2 chip can detect non-Apple hardware, protecting someone from adding untrusted hardware to the motherboard and sniffing user's data.
  • Data on the internal volume will be safer, as no way can access the data without the password, thanks for T2 chip's on-the-fly encryption and decryption of data on built-in SSD.
  • Mac will boot in a safe condition because T2 chip will verify the integrity of the boot process, but is an optional protection in case you want an external boot.

Like the A-series chips in iOS devices, T2 Chip is for a new level of integration and security to Mac. Now that having a T2 chip in the Mac brings so many new and good features, what Macs have T2 chips inside then? In the eagerness to know if your Mac has Apple's T2 chip, check the following part.

What Macs models have the T2 security chip?

Apple's T2 security chip made its way early from the iMac Pro 2017. Since then, those Mac models come with this powerful chip.

  • iMac Pro
  • Mac Pro introduced in 2019
  • Mac mini introduced in 2018
  • MacBook Air introduced in 2018 and later
  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2018 and later

In the case of having no idea which model the Mac is, System Information is a good way to check out. Simply go to the Apple menu > About this Mac > System Report > select either Controller or iBridge, an "Apple T2 chip" phrase on the right means the Mac is furnished with the T2 chip.

How T2 chip makes MacBook data recovery difficult?

It's acknowledged that Apple's T2 chip makes data on the internal SSD more secure. But the T2 chip storage encryption also make it almost impossible to recover data from a damaged Mac. After failure on limited password trying, the SSD will be locked and won't accept any password. And any attempt to remove the SSD from the machine will make the drive unreadable.

Moreover, every Mac with T2 chip has a unique ID for encryption. So, it's impossible to access data in one internal SSD on another Mac. As a result, when MacBook Pro or MacBook Air that has a T2 chip is not turnning on, traditional ways of data recovery like Target Disk Mode won't work anymore.

But does that mean MacBook Pro 2018 data recovery is impossible forever? Not necessarily.

How to recover lost data from T2-secured Mac?

Up to now, there are three ways to get files off Macs that introduced in 2018 and later. One of them is the T2 chip data recovery, which is available from iBoysoft even if the Mac with T2 chip won't turn on.

Let's check them one by one.

1. Recover deleted or lost data from T2-secured Mac using Time Machine backup

Time Machine is a built-in backup tool on Mac computers. So, if you have enabled Time Machine backup before files get deleted or lost, you can restore data from Time Machine automatic backups.

How to recover lost data from Mac with Time Machine backup?

MacBook 2018/2019 data recovery using Time Machine backup

Time Machine is a good tool to recover deleted files from MacBook Pro SSD. However, this method works only if you have set up Time Machine on MacBook Pro 2018/2019 before files are lost. In the case that you didn't make a backup, the next solution is a better choice.

2. Recover lost data from T2-secured Mac with Mac data recovery software

In terms of data recovery from MacBook 2018 and later, no Mac data recovery tool can deal with the T2 chip, except for iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is one of the best Mac data recovery tools. And it initially makes a great improvement in T2 chip data recovery. It can recover files deleted from MacBook internal SSD, and rescue files when MacBook Pro 2018/2019 won't turn on due to macOS update, disk corruption, system crash, and software incompatibility. This software works with macOS 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8/10.7.

Moreover, this Mac data recovery software is also powerful in APFS data recovery, lost partition data recovery, and deleted file recovery. It can recover data from hard drives, SSDs, external hard drives, SD cards, USB flash drives, CF cards, memory cards, etc.

T2 chip data recovery from MacBook Pro 2018 and later with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

Note: Before you follow the steps below, you have to make sure your Mac has an Internet connection.

  1. Step 1: If your Mac won't turn on, press Command + Option + R keys while rebooting this Mac. Instead, if you want to recover deleted files from MacBook SSD, press Command + R keys at startup.
  2. Booting Mac into Recovery Mode will avoid overwriting the data on the MacBook SSD. This is important especially for deleted data recovery from Mac's internal drives. On the other hand, it will boot up the Mac to fix problems in the case of Mac not turning on.
  3. Boot Mac into Internet Recovery Mode
  4. Step 2: Choose a network for the Mac, and keep the Internet being connected all the time.
  5. When Mac can't boot into normal Recovery because the local Recovery Partition is damaged, a network connection makes things easier. It enables you to access Apple's server from the Internet.
  6. Step 3: Click Utilities in the top menu and select Terminal from the drop-down menu.
  7. Open Terminal in macOS Recovery mode
  8. Step 4: Run the following command:
    sh <(curl http://boot.iboysoft.com/boot.sh)
  9. This will launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac through iBoysoft Server, so that you can recover data from the Mac computer.
  10. Step 5: After launching iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, please select the drive you want to recover lost data from and click the Scan button to continue.
  11. select the unbootable APFS drive
  12. Step 6: After the scan completes, preview and choose the files you want to get back. And then click on the Recover button to save your files to an external hard drive.

Note: If you can't find the partition that you want, you can choose the Find Lost APFS Partitions tab at the top right. It can find the lost partitions to get files off. A correct password is required when it prompts you to fill in.

3. Recover data from failed or damaged T2-secured Mac in Apple store

There are some situations that Mac Data Recovery software can't help to rescue files. For example, The logical board of a MacBook Pro 2019 is nonfunctional partially. Or the Mac shows a black screen after physical damage. Then, you need to contact the Apple support for data recovery from a soldered SSD in MacBook. Apple store is the last hope if you want to recover data from a dead or water damaged MacBook that has a T2 chip.

How to disable secure boot on T2-secured Macs?

By default, the secure boot feature of the T2 chip is turning on for only loading a legitimate and trusted operating system at startup. This is good in ensuring Mac is in a known trustworthy state when it's booted. But it will be a problem if you want to boot from an external drive after a catastrophic internal disk failure.

So, you might be in need of disabling this secure boot. Whether you want to have Linux on the T2-secured Macs, or you just want to hedge your bets to fix issues when internal SSD is not able to boot up, you can disable the secure boot.

Of course, You win some, you lose some. After the T2 Security Chip is no longer verifying the system integrity, you might lose the Touch ID authentication for Apple Pay.

Last but not least, back up!

All methods of Mac T2 chip data recovery introduced in this post are based on one thing. That is the Mac machine can be powered on, or else, data recovery from Mac with a T2 chip is impossible. To prevent data loss when Mac is completely dead for physical or liquid damage, the best MacBook data recovery solution is to back up, back up, and back up!