Mac Update Deleted Everything [Recover Lost Data After macOS Update]

After the update to the newest version of macOS Catalina/Mojave, you lose everything on your Mac. If you are worried about these lost data, you can follow the four solutions in this post to easily recover files after the macOS Catalina/Mojave update on your own.

Table of Contents

Have you encountered the frequently happening issue that the Mac update deletes everything? Don't worry. This page has solved the problem with four workable solutions:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Recover Lost Data with Software Download EaseUS file recovery software > select file lost location > scan...Full steps
Fix 2. Restore from Time Machine Backup Step 1. Open up Launchpad on Mac and click "Others".
Step 2. Find and enter Time Machine...Full steps
Fix 3. Recover from iCloud Backup Open > Go to Settings > Select "Restore Files" under Advanced...Full steps
Fix 4. Recover from APFS Snapshot Restart Mac and hold Command + R > Recovery Mode > Select "Restore from Time Machine Backup"...Full steps

New Features of macOS Catalina 10.15

After Mojave, the latest version of macOS - Catalina is now available to download. Most Mac users have their macOS from Mojave 10.14 to Catalina 10.15. It’s free and worthwhile to upgrade your Mac and enjoy the new features of Catalina.

  1. 1. Remove iTunes: Beginning with Catalina, iTunes is expected to be replaced by Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts.
  2. 2. Support Second Screen: Catalina also offers second screen support for utilizing iPads as a companion second screen from Mac computers.
  3. 3. Sidecar - use your iPad as drawing tablet: After connecting the iPad through Sidecar, users can use Apple pencil to draw and annotate things to iPad.
  4. 4. Screen Time: Screen Time allows users to set App Limits across all their Apple devices, not just Macs.
  5. 5. Updated Photos App: The Photos app curates and features your best photos, removing poor-quality photos and duplicate shots.

However, during the upgrading process, you are faced with data loss problems. Back up your Mac data before you take action. If you have lost data, see the following part.

Mac Update Deleted Everything

"I updated my Mac to Catalina 10.15 and lost everything. My entire hard drive has been wiped. Nothing on my desktop, documents, mail, folders, etc. The applications are there, but that's it. My mail is gone, and my profile appears as though it has been newly created. Is there any way I can restore the lost files, or am I screwed..."

To most Mac users who lost data during a macOS update, they all have three questions on their minds: 1. Why does a macOS update delete everything? 2. Is lost data recoverable? 3. How to get the new features and get back lost data?

As a matter of fact, very few Mac users know the causes of data loss after macOS updates. To start Mac data recovery due to macOS update, check the causes first and learn why your data can be restored.

Why did the macOS update delete everything?

Generally, a subsequent major release of macOS won't erase or touch user data. Pre-installed apps and configurations will also be kept in the upgrade. However, you should be cautious and be responsible for the sanity of your data. Upgrades don't negate the possibility of going wrong, and in the unlikely case, you may lose access to data due to the following causes:

  • Hard drive failure or file system error
  • Unfinished macOS update, macOS update failure, or OS crash
  • There is not enough space on the hard drive for an OS update

To prevent the inconvenience of losing important data, it is recommended that you back up your important files via EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac before installing or updating macOS.

Back Up Your Mac and Never Lose Data

Back up and restore your MacBook/iMac without Time Machine, iCloud, or external hard drives.

Is lost data recoverable?

In fact, lost files can be recovered. When a file is accidentally or intentionally deleted from Mac, only the pointer to it is deleted, not the actual file. The data is not physically deleted from the system until it is overwritten with new data.

If you find your files missing after the Mac update, stop using the device to avoid writing any new data on the hard drive. Then, follow the solutions below to recover lost data on Mac after the macOS update.

Solutions to Recover Files After macOS Catalina/Mojave Update

When a Mac update deletes everything on your computer, try the following solutions to recover all missing files.

If you have backups, you can retrieve data from the backup. If you have no backup, you must use professional Mac data recovery software to get back data as soon as possible.

Solution 1. Recover Lost Data with EaseUS Data Recovery Software for Mac

EaseUS Mac data recovery software - Data Recovery Wizard for Mac can recover lost data after macOS 10.15 update. Besides, if you are faced with the following problem, you can also use this data recovery software to regain the deleted or missing data.

easeus's data recovery software can recover data under these situations

Let's see how to recover lost data and missing files after Mac update:

Note: You can create a backup by clicking the "Disk Backup" on the left first. When the disk is damaged or the data on the disk is accidentally deleted or lost, you can get the data back from the backup image.

Step 1. Select the location

Select the disk where you lost data after updating to macOS Sonoma/Ventura/Monterey/Big Sur. Then, click "Search for lost files".

select a location and scan for lost data after macOS update

Step 2. Find lost data after the scan

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac will immediately scan your selected disk volume and display the scanning results on the left pane. Use the file type and file path to find wanted data on Mac.

Find lost data after the scan

Step 3. Recover data after macOS update

Select the target files that were unknowingly lost during or after the update and click the "Recover" button to get them all back.

Recover data after macOS update

Solution 2. Restore macOS Catalina/Mojave Data from Time Machine Backup

This method works well only if you have Time Machine backups. You can easily get deleted, lost, or missing data back by following these steps:

Step 1. Open up Launchpad on Mac and click "Others".

Step 2. Find the Time Machine icon and click it to enter Time Machine.

Enter Time Machine

Step 3. Use the up and down arrow to scroll the timeline to browse the backups.

Find lost files from Time Machine backup

Step 4. After finding the files that you want to recover, click "Restore" to recover those lost data from Time Machine on macOS Catalina/Mojave.

Recover lost files from Time Machine backup

Solution 3. Recover Missing/Lost Files from iCloud Backup

Some Mac users have the habit of backing up their data and files to iCloud. To these Mac users, it seems to be good news when their files are missing or lost after the macOS update.

Here are the steps to bring lost Mac files from iCloud backup:

Step 1. Go to in your Mac browser and log in with your Apple ID.

Open icloud

Step 2. Go to Settings and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Step 3. At the bottom left, click on "Restore Files" under Advanced.

Restore files on iCloud

Tips: To restore contacts, bookmarks, calendars, and reminders from iCloud, click the corresponding option under Advanced.

Step 4. Check the files you want to restore or click "Select All" if you really need to restore everything. Click the Restore button to recover them.

Select iCoud backup and restore to Mac

Solution 4. Restore Files from APFS Snapshot using macOS Recovery

Being similar to System Restore in Windows OS, macOS like High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina also enable users to use the macOS Recovery feature to restore files from APFS snapshots. It only works on macOS Catalina, Mojave, and High Sierra.

A snapshot will automatically be taken once the installation or update of your macOS starts. You need to agree to the license terms so to enable snapshots to start. A snapshot contains the current state of the target disk, including files, macOS version, etc. Also, note that snapshots are a feature of APFS, and if the target drive is not formatted with APFS, no snapshot will be saved.

If you don't want to revert macOS Catalina or Mojave to the previous state, go back to solution 1 and let reliable Mac file recovery software help.

If your Mac hard drive is with APFS, you can accept the result of restoring files from APFS snapshot, bringing macOS to the previous state, follow the steps below:

Step 1. Restart Mac and hold Command + R in the meantime to boot into Recovery Mode.

Release these keys when you see the Apple logo.

Step 2. Select Restore From Time Machine Backup and then click the Continue button.

Restore files from APFS

Step 3. Disks connected to your Mac that contain APFS snapshots will be listed. Select the Mac startup disk and click "Continue".

Select Mac boot disk

Step 4. A list of snapshots will be displayed, sorted by date with the created image of the macOS version. Select the snapshot you wish to restore from, then click "Continue".

Restore lost data from APFS snapshot

You will see a process bar, and your Mac will reboot automatically when the recovery is over. After the Mac reboots, you can see and access your lost files on your Mac with the previous macOS. If you still want to update to the latest macOS, back up your Mac data and try again.


This page covers 4 practical files to help Mac users to restore missing or lost files due to macOS updates. If macOS Catalina or Mojave update deletes everything from your Mac, you can restore lost files from your backup:

Time Machine Backup, iCloud Backup, APFS Snapshot.

If you have no backup, don't worry. You still have a chance with the help of professional data recovery software, like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac. It will fully scan and find all your lost Mac files deleted by the macOS update in only three steps.

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Updated by Cedric

Cedric Grantham is a senior editor and data recovery specialist of EaseUS. He mainly writes articles and how-to tips about data recovery on PC and Mac. He has handled 10,000+ data recovery cases and is good at data recovery of NTFS, FAT (FAT32 and ExFAT) file systems, and RAID structure reorganization.

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Written by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her game experience on Facebook or Twitter.

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