How to Update/Reinstall macOS Without Losing Data

Tracy King updated on Nov 18, 2020 to Mac File Recovery | How-to Articles

Whenever there is a new macOS available, the need to reinstall macOS will surge. When you update or reinstall the macOS, the last thing you want is probably losing data on your computer. To reinstall macOS, including the latest Catalina, Mojave, without losing data, you can follow the professional guide to update the OS, which will not cause data loss in most of the case. If you still have worries, back up your Mac in advance or recover the lost files with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

This page covers the full process of how to update and install the latest macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, etc. on Mac without losing any data. If you need a detailed guide, follow through this page to get the desired macOS installed on your computer now:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Phrase 1. Preparations 2GB+ memory and 9GB+ storage space left on Mac > 45% + battery > Connect to internet...Full steps
Phrase 2. Change a USB port Start Mac from macOS Recovery > Select "Reinstall macOS" > "Continue"...Full steps
Phrase 3. Recover Lost Data After macOS installation, run EaseUS Mac data recovery software > Scan and recover lost data...Full steps

Applies To: macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, macOS High Sierra, macOS Sierra, or earlier Mac operating systems

Reinstall macOS Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra without losing data

The need to update or reinstall your macOS always follow the release of a new operating system, the slow performance of your Mac, or a system crash. When it comes to reinstalling macOS, users biggest concern is losing data on their computer.

The good news is that, if you follow the instructions strictly to update your Mac Operating System, the chance to lose data on your Mac is quite slim, since a reinstallation just needs to create a new copy of the OS, your existing files stored on your Mac won't be lost. Thus, as long as you don't choose to erase your startup disk during the reinstallation, you won't lose files. However, you know what "Slim" means - it's not 100% safe and is still at the risk of losing some data.

Then how to reinstall macOS without any data loss? To provide a double guarantee to the precious data on your Mac, you can make a copy of the files on your Mac before you perform the reinstallation, or equip your Mac with a data recovery tool that can rescue your data after the reinstallation.

Preparations you Need to Make Before You Reinstall macOS

To reinstall macOS on your computer smoothly. Follow the tips below to prepare your Mac ready for the new macOS update now:

  • Leave at least 2GB memory and 8.8 GB storage space on your Mac
  • Leave at least 45% battery on your Mac
  • Connect Mac to the internet or WiFi
  • Update your Mac Apps to the latest versions
  • Backup all your personal data and even create backups for your present Mac data through Time Machine

Remember to back up your Mac to an external hard drive for preventing system update failure or unexpected troubles from happening. Then follow the detailed guide below to reinstall Mac OS via macOS Recovery mode, which enables you to reinstall macOS, restore your files from Time Machine, repair or erase a disk, and more.

How to Update & Reinstall macOS Without Losing Data

*Print this page or open this page on another device so you can refer to it later.

Step 1. Start up your Mac from macOS Recovery

  • Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold "Command + R", "Option + Command + R", or "Shift + Option + Command + R".
  • Release the keys when the Apple logo, a spinning globe, or a pop-up for a firmware password appears.

Step 2. Select "Reinstall macOS" from the Utilities Window and click "Continue".

Step 3. Follow the onscreen instructions to select the hard drive you want to install the OS on and start the installation.

Step 4. Don't put your Mac to sleep mode or close its lid during the installation. It's normal to see your Mac restart several times or the screen is white while you reinstall the Mac OS. Just wait patiently for the process to finish.

How to Update & Reinstall Mac OS Without Losing Data

If data loss occurred after you reinstalled macOS, you can follow the next part to recover your missing files.

Recover Lost Data After macOS Reinstallation

If you have backed up your Mac before the reinstallation, you can retrieve your data from Time Machine, an external hard drive, or somewhere else, depending on the way you used to make the backup. If you haven't created any backups for your Mac, then you'll need the professional Mac data recovery software tool - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, to perform data recovery. With the help of this tool, you can easily recover the data lost due to macOS reinstallation:

Step 1. Select the disk location (it can be an internal HDD/SSD or a removable storage device) where you lost data and files. Click the "Scan" button.

select a location and click scan

Step 2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac will immediately scan your selected disk volume and display the scanning results on the left pane.

start scan on the Mac

Step 3. In the scan results, select the file(s) and click the "Recover Now" button to have them back.

click recover now button to recover lost data on your Mac

There are lots of data recovery tools available. But EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, one of the best Mac data recovery tools, is our pick. It fully supports all macOS systems including the newest Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, EI Capitan, Yosemite etc. It allows you to restore all lost data with simple clicks. Office files, music, videos, emails or other archives can all be restored on your own. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

About Data Recovery Wizard

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