How do I recover data from a dead SSD Macbook Pro?

Quick Overview

Recovering data from a dead SSD MacBook Pro can be challenging but is often possible with the right tools and techniques. The first steps are determining why the drive failed and then removing it from the MacBook Pro. From there, you’ll need data recovery software and possibly hardware to connect the SSD to another system to scan and extract data. With an unresponsive drive, advanced data recovery service may be required. Backing up regularly is the best way to avoid data loss from dead SSDs.

Determining Why the SSD Failed

When an SSD suddenly “dies”, it often means it has become unresponsive and is not being detected by the MacBook Pro. There are a few common reasons this can happen:

Logical SSD failure

A logical failure is when the SSD’s firmware gets corrupted or critical data structures get damaged. This can happen from sudden power loss, malware, accidental file deletion, or opening suspicious files. The SSD will appear dead, but a full scan can often recover the lost data.

Electrical/hardware failure

Hardware components like the controller chip or NAND flash memory can fail electrically. This is often irrecoverable, but you may be able to rescue data with professional data recovery.

Mechanical damage

Drops, impacts, liquid spills, etc. can damage SSD internals. This can disable communications and make data recovery difficult. Careful handling and physical inspection is important.

Removing the SSD from the MacBook Pro

To recover data from the dead SSD, you’ll need to first extract it from the MacBook Pro’s enclosure:

What you’ll need

– Pentalobe screwdriver (opens outer case)
– Torx T5 screwdriver (internal screws)
– Spudger tool (to gently pry open)
– ESD-safe workspace

Steps to remove SSD

1. Shut down MacBook Pro and unplug all connected cables
2. Use Pentalobe screwdriver to unscrew bottom case
3. Gently pry open case starting from the ports side
4. Disconnect battery cable from logic board
5. Use T5 screwdriver to remove screws securing SSD
6. Gently lift out the SSD module using spudgers
7. Place SSD in an anti-static bag for safekeeping

The SSD is now removed and ready for the data recovery process. Be very gentle to avoid any further damage.

Connect SSD to Another System

With the SSD out, the next step is connecting it to a desktop computer or external dock to scan and read data from it. This requires a SATA connection and possibly some adapters depending on the MacBook Pro model.

What you’ll need

– SATA cables and adapters to suit SSD
– External SSD enclosure or docking station
– Desktop computer with SATA ports and data recovery software

Connecting the SSD

1. Insert SSD into external enclosure and connect to computer via USB
2. Or, connect SSD directly to desktop SATA ports using cables/adapters
3. Boot computer into recovery mode or external OS to avoid overwriting SSD
4. Use data recovery software to scan drives and preview files
5. Once files are located, copy them over to a separate safe storage drive

With the SSD now connected, you can attempt to access the data on it through data recovery software. Do not boot from or overwrite the SSD.

Choosing Data Recovery Software

Specialized data recovery software is required to interact with an unresponsive SSD and resurrect data from it. Some options to consider:

Free software

Recuva – Can recover deleted files and partitions. Simple interface but limited capabilities.
TestDisk – Open source recovery tool for advanced users. Rebuilds partitions and repairs disks.

Paid software

EaseUS – Full-featured recovery software with simple wizard-based interface.
Stellar – Broad file system support and deep scanning abilities.
R-Studio – Uses advanced algorithms to recover from severe data loss.

Factors to consider

– File system support (HFS+, APFS, etc.)
– Scan depth and data reconstruction features
– Ease of use vs advanced capabilities
– Price point

Demo and trial versions are available to test software before purchasing.

Scanning and Recovering Data

Once you have the right data recovery software installed, you can start the recovery process:

Steps to recover data

1. Select the unresponsive SSD and have software scan it
2. Let the deep scan run to detect lost files and partitions
3. Preview found files to identify important data
4. Select files/folders to recover and save to another drive
5. Check recovered data integrity before using

Tips for higher recovery success

– Try multiple software tools if the first doesn’t find files
– Don’t overwrite the SSD during scans or recovery
– Recover data in batches and check before proceeding
– Expect degraded files due to SSD issues

Be prepared for a lengthy process depending on SSD size and amount of data being recovered.

Advanced Data Recovery Service

If DIY software recovery attempts are unsuccessful, then professional data recovery may be necessary for mechanical failures or highly damaged SSDs.

When to use data recovery service

– SSD has physical damage visible
– Multiple recovery tools can’t access drive
– Critical or large amounts of data need recovery

What to expect with professional recovery

– Evaluation of damage and recovery feasibility
– Possible disassembly and repair of SSD internals
– Specialized tools and clean room environment
– Higher costs – from $500 to $3000+

Finding a reputable service

– Search for “data recovery [your city]”
– Read reviews and check certifications
– Get estimate upfront before approving service
– Consider shipping to a large recovery company

Professional recovery gives the highest chance for data recovery, but costs will be high for SSD lab work.

Preventing Data Loss on Dead SSDs

While data recovery is possible in many cases, regular backups provide the best protection against data loss from SSD failure:

Tips for preventing data loss

– Use Time Machine to backup Mac to external drive
– Create bootable clones of your SSD using SuperDuper/Carbon Copy
– Store important files in cloud storage (iCloud, Dropbox, etc)
– Replace older SSDs before expected end of life (4-5 years)
– Encrypt SSD data in case physical theft occurs

What to do when SSD failure occurs

– Stop using SSD immediately to avoid overwriting data
– Remove SSD and connect to recovery computer
– Scan and recover data before proceeding
– Get professional help if needed for mechanical issues

Planning ahead and having backups ready saves time, money and stress when dealing with a dead SSD.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can lost data be recovered if I reinstalled macOS on the SSD?

If you have reinstalled macOS or erased the drive, it becomes much harder to recover lost files. The data is still physically there in most cases, but may require advanced recovery tools. Avoid using the SSD until data is recovered.

How long does data recovery take?

It depends on SSD capacity, amount of data, and severity of issues. Quick scans may take a few hours, while deep scanning a large SSD can run over 12 hours. Expect recovery to take at least several hours.

What damages SSDs and causes failure?

Water exposure, drops, power surges, component wear, file system corruption, viruses, and accidental actions like erasing drive. Manufacturing defects can also cause premature failure in some cases.

Can Best Buy or Apple Store recover my data?

No, general electronics retail stores don’t offer professional data recovery services. Contact a dedicated recovery company instead when advanced capabilities are needed.

What if I deleted files on a healthy SSD and need recovery?

If the deletion was recent and SSD is still functioning, recovery software should be able to restore lost files easily. Just avoid writing new data to the drive before scanning.


Recovering lost data from a dead SSD MacBook Pro is very possible if the right precautions are taken. Don’t attempt to boot from or erase the SSD before data is recovered. Use data recovery software and hardware adapters to connect the SSD to another system. Scan thoroughly and recover data to a separate safe location. Seek professional help if DIY methods fail. And above all, be sure to backup regularly to avoid needing data recovery in the first place.