Why it matters: It would seem that Apple has neglected equipping 2018 MacBook Pros with a way to recover data from the non-removable SSDs if the logic board fails. Both 2016 and 2017 models had a port on the board that could be used for data transfer, but this is gone from the new models.
Shortly after the 2016 MacBook Pros with the Touch Bars rolled out, it was discovered that the SSDs were non-removable. The techs at iFixit found during a teardown that Apple had started soldering the drives to the logic board. It raised concerns that data recovery would be impossible if the logic board failed.
However, Apple had enough forethought to install a port on the board that would allow an Apple technician to transfer data from the SSD to a new MacBook using the Migration Assistant in macOS. It does require a proprietary tool owned by Apple, so migrating data from a failed board is not a DIY project, but at least it can be done.
Last week, iFixit tore down a new 2018 MacBook Pro only to find that the port previously used for data transfer is no longer there. However, the SSDs are still hardwired to the logic board. So now it appears that there is no way to recover data in the event of board failure.
MacRumors looked into the issue through its contacts in the Apple repair industry and were told that so far Cupertino has not communicated a way to recover data from the new MacBooks. More than one source said that retrieving data is impossible with the new setup.
This suspicion was further confirmed by the 2018 MacBook Pro Service Readiness Guide, which “advises technicians to encourage customers to back up to Time Machine frequently” because there is no longer a way to recover data.
Making frequent backups is good advice in general, but shouldn't Apple be communicating this to the consumer rather than advising the technicians to tell customers bringing in their MacBooks for repair?
The guide also mentions that while Apple is unable to retrieve data from the 2018 MB Pros, a data recovery specialist may be able to. DriveSavers, Knoll, Seagate, and Payam are companies that specialize in data recovery, but it is unclear what these companies can do that Apple cannot.
It is worth mentioning that Apple has not officially confirmed that data retrieval is impossible. MacRumors reached out for comment but has yet to hear back.
Personally, I have always practiced what I preach and religiously back up my hard drives, so I'm not worried. However, this seems like an issue that Cupertino's customer base should be made aware of since not everyone is as religious as me.