2 Easy Ways to Recover Data from Dead Mac Hard Drive

by Anna Sherry   Updated on 2019-12-31 / Update for  Mac Data

"My MBP crashed almost a year ago, I opened it one morning to find it wouldn't turn on. Anyway, unfortunately, I've given up on getting the Mac back, but I really need the stuff that was on it. Any tips for recovering data from dead Mac?"

If the hard drive of your Mac has crashed, you have likely lost all data stored in it. In a data loss situation like this, the first thing you will want to do is find ways to recover files from dead Mac hard drive. Recovering files from a dead drive is quite a task as it involves doing stuff that you may have never done before. But if the files that you stored on the drive were important, you need to take the steps to get them back on your Mac.

In the following guide, you are going to learn how to recover data from dead Mac using two different ways. Both the ways described in the guide use different techniques to help you find and restore your deleted files on your Mac. So, if you are ready to recover your data, the following is how you do it.

Way 1. Turn Your Dead Mac Hard Drive into an External Hard Drive and Recover Data

Since the hard drive on your Mac has died, you probably can't boot-up your Mac as there are no system files for your Mac to boot-up from. In this situation, what you can do is you can remove the dead hard drive from your Mac, put it into an external drive enclosure, and then use another machine to recover files from the drive.

If that sounds confusing to you, the following steps will break down the entire procedure into small steps for you to follow. Just follow the steps given below and you should be able to recover data from dead MacBook.

  • Remove the dead hard drive from your Mac using the official instructions. The manufacturer website will have steps on how you can remove a hard drive from your Mac.
  • Once the dead hard drive has been removed from your Mac, put it into an external drive enclosure.
  • Connect the external drive to a working Mac using a suitable cable.
  • Download and install the 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery software on your Mac. Launch the software, choose your external drive from the list, and then click on the button that says Scan.

    select a location
  • When the software has finished scanning your dead hard drive, you will see a list of files that can be recovered. Select the files you want to recover and click on the button that says Recover.

    preview scanned files
  • On the following screen, select a folder where the recovered files should be saved.

    recover mac files

There you go. All the files you selected will be recovered from your dead hard drive and saved at your chosen location on your Mac. That is how you use a third-party software to recover data from a dead hard drive on Mac.

Way 2. Create a macOS bootable USB disk And Recover Data from Dead/Crashed MacBook

If you would like to recover data on the same Mac where you lost your data, you can create a bootable USB drive of macOS and use it to boot-up your dead Mac. Then, you can use a data recovery software to recover your data. The following shows how you can go about doing it on your machine.

  • On your secondary Mac machine, download the macOS Installer from the App Store.
  • Plug-in a compatible USB drive to your Mac. This will become the bootable USB media for macOS.
  • Launch the Terminal app on your Mac by clicking on Launchpad and searching for and clicking on Terminal.

    launch terminal
  • When the Terminal app launches, type in one of the following commands to create a bootable macOS USB drive. Make sure to use the command that is for your version of macOS.


    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

    High Sierra:

    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume


    sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sierra.app

    El Capitan:

    sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ El\ Capitan.app

    create bootable macos
  • Your bootable USB drive should now be ready. Plug it in to your dead Mac and boot your Mac from the bootable USB drive.
  • When the Mac boots-up, use the 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery software to recover your data. You may follow the steps given in the above section as they are similar.

You should have successfully recovered lost files from your dead hard drive on your Mac.

If your Mac hard drive ever crashes or dies, our guide above should teach you how to recover data from a dead Mac so you know how you can get your lost files back on your machine. We hope it helps you out.

  Updated on 2019-12-31 / Update for  Mac Data

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