Lost 3TB of data on my Fusion drive, can I recover my data?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by 212rikanmofo, May 22, 2018.

  1. 212rikanmofo macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
    I'm not sure exactly what happened but I was using my iMac (Late 2015 model) with 3TB fusion drive, and then when loading apps I get this beachball that wont go away. So I had no choice but to press the power button to shut it down and upon restarting my iMac I get a screen with the circle with a line going through it. So I went online to research what it was and they said that the machine can't find a valid System folder. So I rebooted into Recover mode and went into disk utility and saw that my Macintosh HD was in red so I clicked on it and it asked me to Fix or Ignore, so I clicked fix. Not knowing that it would erase all my data. Did I just lose everything or is my data still there somewhere? I even tried to erase my drive to reinstall Mac OS and at the very last minute or so it gives me an error saying cannot prepare installation.

    So at this moment, my main concern is recovering my data off my Fusion drive. Is there any software or utils that will let me do this. I heard even if you erase/reformat your HDD, that the data is still there, since it technically never gets written over.

    I would like to recover my pictures, documents and music, as those are the most important. But I feel like I lost my entire life now. :( Sorry for the rant, I feel so terrible.

    Please help me get my stuff back somehow. I hope it's not too late.
  2. TiggrToo, May 22, 2018
    Last edited: May 22, 2018

    TiggrToo macrumors demi-goddess


    Aug 24, 2017
    Out there...way out there
    I'm no fusion drive expert, that said I've been around the block or three and am aware of the nuances of fusion over SSD/Spinning platter drives and....you may be looking at requesting help from outside help.

    It's unlikely Apple would help you here so you may need a data recovery service (they're not cheap).

    Yes, it's true that data doesn't get deleted when a partition is dropped, however those free blocks are then anyone's game once a partition has been deleted - quadruply so in the SSD portion of the Fusion drive.

    At this point your best bet is to make sure nothing has a chance to write to the drive as that'll cause more blocks to be overwritten. Then look at those data recovery options. Alternatively there are software options that claim to work, e.g.CleverFiles (never used it myself so I cannot vouch of it) but you'll need to have the drive connected to a working Mac to operate upon it. I also found this in my random searches across the interwebs.

    And next time, backups. Always have backups. Everywhere.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'm wondering if data recovery from a fusion drive (which is actually TWO drives) is even possible.

    I don't recall ever seeing a posting here from someone who had had a fusion drive crash, and had then "gone in" and extracted the data from it (perhaps someone has done it, but again, I don't recall reading about it).

    I'm going to guess that having ERASED the drive, data recovery is going to be all-that-more-difficult.

    This is why it's absolutely imperative that someone with a fusion drive keep a cloned backup.
    Without one, you're probably "up the creek" insofar as data recovery is concerned.
  4. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    Not that it helps you right now, but in the future remember this: Backups. They're good.
    macOS has a function called Time Machine, which can be used with an external drive or a network target.
    Otherwise, if you have a good Internet connection, you can subscribe to an online backup service like Backblaze for a relatively modest monthly fee.

    That said: If you got a spinning beach ball while using the computer, chances are your fusion drive was already "broken" in some way at that point.
    Number one to remember the next time something happens to a drive you haven't backed up (but it won't, because from now on you will back stuff up, right?): Don't do anything that writes to the drive. If the drive still works mechanically, you might be able to read out anything from "some" to "a lot" of the stuff that was there.
    (Note that this is true for mechanical drives, like the main drive in a Fusion Drive pair, but not necessarily so for SSD storage like the cache drive in a Fusion Drive).

    Unfortunately getting the data off the drive may require physical access to the actual drive, and at that point it's probably best to let professionals do their thing if what you had was worth enough to you that it's economically feasible to attempt a data recovery - which may or may not yield results; especially if you've been writing to the volume after it malfunctioned.
    If the drive was encrypted with FileVault or similar, its contents may be unrecoverable if you don't have backups.
  5. 212rikanmofo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
    Sigh, yes I will remember this. I think when I get my HD replace at Apple, I will opt for a 1TB setup vs 3TB, that way I can buy perhaps a 4TB external HD to use for backup/time machine purposes only should this ever happen again.
  6. hallux macrumors 68030


    Apr 25, 2012
    Unless you have less than 1 TB of data, I don't see how this helps with the backup function. The best solution is to replace in-kind (which will likely happen if it's a warranty issue) then get the appropriately-sized backup drive (I like to have mine sized at 150-200% compared to my internal drive).
  7. NT1440 macrumors G4


    May 18, 2008
    Does it start in thunderbolt mode? Hold down T while booting. If you see the thunderbolt logo you can plug in another Mac with a thunderbolt cable and your machine will function like a flash drive. You may be able to get data that way.
  8. 212rikanmofo thread starter macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
    Never tried thunderbolt mode, thing is I have a Macbook 12", and It has a USB-C cable only.

    And my iMac is way out of warranty, its a late 2014 model. I rather have a smaller internal HD because the iMac is a pain in the ass to take apart if I should encounter another failure. I rather have an external fail, at least with that I can plug it into another machine to do data recovery.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    What OS is running on the MacBook?
    What OS -was running- on the iMac? (before it had problems)

    You could use the MacBook to create a bootable USB flashdrive with the OS installer on it, and use that to boot the iMac and "work on" the drives inside.

Share This Page