Recently, Apple internally documented a brand-new data recovery process for salvaging data on Macs that utilize its secure T2 chip when the logic board is partially functional or broken.
This will come as a great relief to owners of recent Mac models that come outfitted with Apple’s second-generation T2 chip. Initially, it was thought that recovering data from a damaged machine, like a 2018 MacBook Pro, could prove much more difficult than with the past models due to the lack of a port on the logic board for non-removable storage.
Now we know that’s not necessarily the case: this special SSD connector is not needed on newer Macs because they use a new data recovery process which relies on the T2 silicon.
The T2 chip on the iMac Pro’s motherboard, via iFixit.com
Moving a customer’s data from flash storage of their misbehaving Mac to flash storage on their new or repaired logic board will initially take about 10-20 minutes to partition the drive needed for the transfer. Actual data transfer from one drive to another could take up to two days, however, depending on the amount of data and SSD health.
According to 9to5Mac:
Apple notes that the process for data transfer for Macs with the T2 chip will be used when its repair staff 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.
Apple first puts the machines into recovery (DFU) mode.
From there, they use an external hard drive and either a Thunderbolt (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) cable or a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to USB-A cable to transfer data from the damaged Mac to the drive.
The data recovery process can be initiated from within Apple’s internal diagnostics tool.
The T2 chip was also suspected to cause kernel panics that led to intermittent shutdown issues on some of the new laptops. Despite those teething issues, Macs outfitted with either the T1 or the T2 chip have enjoyed greatly increased security. The T2, which debuted in the iMac Pro all-in-one desktop, is a significantly enhanced version of the previous T1 chip.
T2 is an ARM-based system-on-a-chip that integrates a Secure Enclave cryptographic coprocessor that provides biometric security for Touch ID, on the fly disk encryption that doesn’t burden the main CPU, image signaling, secure webcam/mic access and much more.
And thanks to this chip, Macs now have Hey Siri.