How to recover missing files after macOS Big Sur update?

By Katrina | Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, updated on August 19th, 2021

Summary: Lost everything stored on your Mac after macOS Catalina or Big Sur upgrade? Don't freak out! Free download the best data recovery software for macOS - iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery to recover lost/missing files after macOS update.

recover lost data after macOS update
Table of contents
1. What's new in macOS 11 Big Sur?
2. How to recover lost/missing files after macOS Big Sur update?
3. Final thoughts

What's new in macOS 11 Big Sur?

When everyone is looking forward to macOS 10.16, the next major release of macOS - macOS 11 Big Sur comes out in WWDC 2020. Like every macOS update, macOS Big Sur has a bunch of great features.

Data recovery from macOS 11 Big Sur

  • The biggest new feature is the refined user interface, which includes reworked icons, menus, Control Center, Notification Center, and Widgets, Finder, etc.
  • Built-in software updates including Safari, Stocks, Messages, Mails, Calendar, Notes, Music, and Podcasts, etc.
  • Catalyst has been updated. Mac Catalyst is a developer's tool, but users will benefit from it by better experiencing a favorite iPhone or iPad app on Mac machine.

macOS Big Sur is expected to be released in September or October if it's not delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more detailed features, you can click to see the Big Sur preview from Apple's official site.

But before the official releasement, macOS 11 Big Sur Beta opens the gate for more people who are interested in testing out the upcoming software on their Macs and providing feedback for improvements.

Learn known issues in macOS 11 Big Sur and how to fix them

Lost files after upgrading to macOS Big Sur, help!

Hi all, after recently trying to update to macOS from Catalina to Big Sur, my entire hard drive has been wiped. Nothing on my desktop, documents, mail, folders, etc. and the files I used most often all disappeared. The applications are there but that's it. I search for Trash, but no luck. Very annoying. Is there any way I can restore the lost files?

As macOS Big Sur is coming with many attractive features, you probably already have upgraded to the new operating system. However, like the problems found in macOS Catalina update, macOS Big Sur could also run into troubles in updating. The worst part is, just like what happened above, some Mac users reported that after macOS upgrade, files on their MacBook or iMac are gone. If you have encountered a similar situation, try the following solutions to recover lost files after macOS Catalina or Big Sur update.

How to downgrade macOS Big Sur to macOS Catalina

How to recover missing files after macOS Big Sur update?

Before upgrading to macOS 10.15 or macOS 11, you should make a backup of your Mac. This is always a good idea in case the changes bring something unexpected like data loss. But if you forgot to back up important files, no worries! You can follow the steps below:

Solution 1:Check another folder

This had happened in macOS Catalina update last year. Apple Developer indicated in macOS 10.15 release notes that Macintosh HD contains files on the root of the volume, so files/folders stored at the root level of the volume will be relocated to /Library/SystemMigration/History/Migration-UUID/QuarantineRoot/ when the Mac upgrades to macOS Catalina. So, you can go to this folder to check if you can find those relocated items after macOS Big Sur update as well.

Solution 2:Restore lost data from Time Machine Backup

When it comes to restoring some of those files or your entire Mac, Time Machine app makes it easy. But this method works well only if you have Time Machine backups. You can try the following steps to see if you can restore lost data from Time Machine Backup.

1. Restore specific files/folders from your Time Machine backup

If you only want to restore specific files and folders from a Time Machine Backup, you can restore them by proceeding with this tutorial.

Step 1: Open up Launchpad on Mac and click Other.

Step 2: Find the Time Machine icon and click it to enter.

Tips: You can also open Time Machine by clicking the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and then choose Enter Time Machine. If the Time Machine icon isn't in the menu bar, go to Apple menu and choose System Preferences, click Time Machine and then check the box next to Show Time Machine in menu bar.

Step 3: Use the arrows at the bottom and timeline on the left to browse the backups.

Restore files from Time Machine Backups

Step 4: Select the files or folders that you want to recover and click Store.

2. Restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup

If your Mac crashes and you lose it all after upgrading to macOS Catalina, you can use Time Machine backups to restore your Mac.

Step 1: Restart your Mac and while the startup disc is walking up, hold down the Command + R keys simultaneously. Your Mac will boot into macOS Recovery mode and you will see the macOS Utilities window. (If your Mac won't boot into macOS Recovery mode, please try again).

Step 2: Select Restore from Time Machine Backup; under the macOS Utilities and click Continue.

Step 3: Read the info on the Restore Your System page and click Continue.

Step 4: Select the disk that contains the Time Machine backup and click Continue.

Step 5: You will see a list of all versions of backups in the form of APFS snapshot. Choose the most recent backup of your hard disk and click Continue. Your Mac will restore the Mac from the selected version of backup and then restart once it is finished.

Solution 3:Recover lost files from the iCloud backup

If the Time Machine Restore failed or greyed out, you can rely on iCloud Drive. As the most common cloud storage service on iOS and Mac computers, iCloud drives are used to store and sync files between various devices. People store more and more items into iCloud storage in order to reduce the local storage space of Macs. But don't ignore the hidden restore feature on iCloud. With this feature, you can recover deleted/lost files, recover photos, videos, contacts, bookmarks, calendars, and reminders from iCloud backup.

Step 1: Go to in any web browser and log in.

Step 2: Click on the Setting icon and then scroll down to the bottom of the page that appears.

Step 3: At the bottom left, click on Restore Files under Advanced.

Tips: If you want to restore contacts, bookmarks, calendars and reminders from iCloud, click the corresponding option under Advanced.

Step 4: Check off the boxes to the left of the files you want to restore or click Select All if you really need to restore everything. Click the Restore button to recover them to iCloud Drive.

Solution 4:Recover lost data with the best data recovery software

Unable to restore files from Time Machine backup or iCloud Drive? Relax! You still have a chance to recover lost data with professional Mac data recovery software.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is the best file recovery software for macOS. It can recover missing files after macOS update, recover lost data after downgrading from macOS Big Sur to macOS Catalina (vice versa), recover lost data from Mac startup disk. Even when your Mac won't turn on after macOS Catalina update, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can handle it with ease. What's worth mentioning that the program is the most comprehensive APFS data recovery software. It can easily and completely recover recently deleted files, recover lost data from formatted, corrupted, inaccessible APFS volumes/drives.

Besides, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac works on different storage media, including hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, memory cards, CF cards, etc. It can support almost all file types including photos, videos, documents, emails on Mac.

Tutorial to recover lost data after macOS Big Sur 11/10.15 Catalina update

Step 1: To avoid overwriting the lost files, please download iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac to an external drive, instead of your Mac startup disk.

Step 2: Double click iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac installation file, then double click iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac icon to directly run it.

Install iBoysoft Data Recovery

Step 3: After launching iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, select the startup disk where you lost data.

Step 4: Click Scan to search for all lost files on the startup disk.

Recover lost data after macOS 10.15 Catalina update

Step 5: Preview the listed recoverable files, choose those you want and click Recover to get them back.

Tips: If you can't see the desired files, you need to check File types option in the Preferences panel, check the Deep scan option and try again.

Recover lost data after macOS 10.15 Catalina update

Final thoughts

It's quite common if you are faced with some annoying problems after macOS Big Sur update, such download issues, performance and app problems. Even worse, your Mac computer becomes frozen or won't boot after Big Sur update. In this case, you may think all data stored on your Mac will lose forever.

Not at all! Fortunately, recovering missing/lost files after macOS update could be quite simple if you have iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac at hand. Don't hesitate to download it for free.

What's more? If you're fed with a macOS Big Sur problem that we haven't covered or you have any problem with data recovery, please feel free to let us know.