Macbook SSD failure: tested on other Macbook and OWC reader. Realistic prognosis?


macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 1, 2010
My Macbook Retina 15" 2013 SSD has failed. The issue presented itself as a folder with a question mark before boot. I've disassembled the notebook and tested the SSD in another identical Macbook and in an OWC Envoy Pro reader. It does not work.

I've noticed that the chip appears to be slightly swollen in some parts.

Unfortunately, I have no backup whatsoever of this data. Most of it is not important, but some of it are early pictures of my baby girl, which I have no copy of.

I am not a rich man... Does this look like something a specialized company can recover? I understand it might not be cheap, but how much exactly? And what is the exact process the company will use?


macrumors member
Feb 17, 2010
There are 2 types of people in the world: Those who have never lost data, and those who backup. Apple makes one of the easiest to use back up systems in existence. You literally plug a drive in and choose 'Yes'

This process in not cheap at all and sounds terminal with the swollen parts. Best bet is forget about it and hope someone else has a copy of any of the data you need.
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macrumors 65816
Sep 11, 2014
Sorry for your loss. SSD failure is really one of the most catastrophic to fail. I mean, for the layperson, mechanical HDD and SSD failure is one in the same, but mech HDD has been recoverable for years. SSDs throw a wrench because the failure can be anywhere (controller, NAND chips etc). Data to an SSD is generally encrypted by the controller (even if you aren't using something like FileVault), so you can't just dump the contents of the flash. so if this key is lost then the data is toast.


macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009

A professional data recovery firm -might- be able to recover something, but the price is going to be HIGH. How much are you willing to pay? Is $500 acceptable? How about $1,000? How about more? (Aside: I've never needed to use professional data recovery, but I believe you only get charged "the big bucks" if they are successful at recovering the data)

But my -guess- is that even a pro firm might be unable to retrieve anything from a "blade SSD" gone bad. Particularly if there has been physical damage to the memory chips themselves.

So I'd have to say -- forget it, your data is "gone for good".

And -- as has already been posted above -- it's time for you to learn something about the concept of "backup".
You brought this upon yourself, and all the blame lies with you.

Get an external USB3 drive.
Get CarbonCopyCloner (free to download and use for 30 days to try it out).
It's not hard.
Anyone can do it.
Even me...


macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2017
Have you contacted any data recovery firms yet? Estimates are usually free. Pricing will depend on the severity of your particular case (which will also determine what they have to do - i.e., hardware v. software recovery), but it is not uncommon for hardware recovery on solid state drives to quickly exceed that of a brand new MacBook Pro. IMO, a good ballpark estimate might be something between $750 and $5,000, but the only way to be sure is to get an estimate and then get the actual work done. Flash storage is often trickier than mechanical drives, and can be more expensive.

It's not unusual for recovery firms to hold meetings with their clients to directly explain what had to be done (as it explains why the cost is so high.)

From the software side, you could try running Disk Warrior--but this is only going to help if this is a software-side issue and one that involves directory corruption. Anything else and Disk Warrior isn't going to help. You could also try running a SMART program to see if it can pull diagnostic data from the drive to give you an idea of what the issue is. Further, if this is hardware failure, and the files are extremely important, any further action you take with the drive can only make the situation worse. So, for critical files you want recovered and will pay for, discontinuing attempted use and troubleshooting of a problem drive is arguably advisable.
Last edited:


macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 1, 2010
it's a write off. move on.
What's a write off?
From the software side, you could try running Disk Warrior--but this is only going to help if this is a software-side issue and one that involves directory corruption.
Thanks for your reply. It's totally hardware. The drive doesn't even show up as a mount option...

I understand this is 100% on me, but it happened. I screwed up. It sucks, but lesson learned. Now I need this fixed...


macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
Honolulu HI
Based solely on photos I've seen of the SSD's used in 2013 MBP's, there is a controller chip and 4 NAND chips. The NAND chips are what hold the user data and it's pretty easy to tell them apart from the controller chip because they're the same size with the controller chip being different. The NAND chips may have a label which can serve a heat-dissipation function. If a NAND chip is damaged, then it affects your data. If the controller chip is damaged but not the NAND chips, your data might still be there but as pointed out by another poster, the controller likely holds data on how the user data is organized on the NAND chips. It's very typical that data is interleaved between multiple NAND chips. That is, it will write some data from a file on NAND chip and then more data on another chip. So if one NAND chip is damaged, the data on at least one other NAND chip is pretty useless unless you're talking about some sort of textual data.

I did a quick web search, just looking at the summaries but I did see one data recovery site where they claim to be able to read directly from the NAND chips, bypassing a damaged controller chip. So who knows what's possible? But as other posters have said, I have no doubt that it will be expensive.

I would suggest the following:

1) Other than doing a visual inspection, you should not put the SSD in another computer or remove the label, etc.

2) Talk to Apple, either over the phone or at the Genius Bar. They may or may not have useful information, but it'll be free. Who knows? Maybe there's some defect in some of these SSD's that they're willing to help the user with. Not likely, but who knows? The advantage of going to the Genius Bar is that you can interact in person and you might be able to read something in a person's reaction. I wouldn't put the SSD back in the MBP and if asked, you should be reluctant to have them do the same.

3) Become knowledgeable about SSD's and data recovery and data recovery firms if you decide to pursue data recovery. Do not tell them you have your child's pictures on the SSD and that they are precious to you. You will need to take a step back and decide whether X amount of dollars is better spent on trying to retrieve the data or put in a fund that can be used for college 10-15 years from now.


macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
OP wrote:
"I understand this is 100% on me, but it happened. I screwed up. It sucks, but lesson learned. Now I need this fixed..."

The problem is that it probably CAN'T be "fixed". If it can, it may cost you A LOT of money. Are the lost files that important? Think long and hard about this.

You may indeed have to write it off -- a loss. A hard lesson learned.
And then... move on.