Apple has recently documented a new data recovery process internally for Macs that utilize its T2 chip introduced with the iMac Pro and the 2018 MacBook Pro. The new process is due to the T2 chip’s advanced security features including hardware encryption for SSD storage that isn’t compatible with previous data recovery methods used on older machines.
The process for data transfer for Macs with the T2 chip will be used when we are presented with a customer’s machine in need of a logic board repair and when the logic board is “partially functional.” The process also requires that the system can be powered on.
To complete the process, Apple’s repair staff will use a Thunderbolt (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) or Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to USB-A cable and another host computer as well as an external hard drive where the data will be transferred. From there the machines can be put into DFU mode and the data recovery process can be initiated from within Apple’s internal diagnostics tool.
While Apple’s tool takes about 10-20 minutes to partition the external hard drive, Apple notes that data transfer of course depends on the amount of data and could take up to two days.
The new T2 chip provides a number of security features including on the fly encryption (making the SSD unreadable if removed from the machine), it also enables many other new features on the new MacBook Pro and iMac Pro. The new security features have provided protection against potential real-world security issues for Mac users with one report noting that “almost all” Mac and Windows laptops and desktops were at risk from data theft with one exception being Macs using the new T2 chip.