Apple's 2018 MacBook Pro may lose user data if the logic board fails

A failsafe feature built into earlier models of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has been removed from the 2018 version, a report from MacRumors reveals, spelling bad news for emergency recovery of user data.

In case of a logic board failure on the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros, users can take them to an official Apple technician to recover the data stored on the SSD via a specialized mechanism called the Customer Data Migration Tool. 

However, the connection required to use this tool has been revealed to be absent from the 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar in a teardown conducted by iFixit, suggesting that such a recovery is no longer possible.

Plan B? Maybe C?

Although it isn’t intended to be relied on, the migration tool provided the last hope for users who could no longer boot their MacBook Pro once the logic board had failed due to the integrated design of the SSD. 

According to “multiple sources” that MacRumors contacted, the tool is indeed incompatible with the 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, but data can still be transferred via its Thunderbolt 3 ports when booting in Target Disk Mode, granted the notebook is still able to boot at all.

A likely reason for the removal of the connection, as MacRumors speculates, is that the 2018 model of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar offers hardware-level encryption for its SSD, just like the iMac Pro.

An internal document obtained by MacRumors – designed to be a guideline for what Apple technicians should tell their customers – apparently advises them to back up to Time Machine often; something we'd strongly recommend as well.

We’ve contacted Apple for an official statement on the issue and will keep you posted with any updates as they occur.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.