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A Late-2013 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina (MBPr) of mine was fried by a water spill and some very important data is on the hard drive. My most recent back up doesn't include this data. I know the computer is fried but I'm not sure if the hard drive is recoverable or not. Sparing the details, recovery of this data is very time sensitive.

Attempted solutions so far:

  1. I took off the back of my computer to check if the hard drive was recoverable. Unfortunately I need a SSD adapter for an A1502 MBPr drive to find out, so this is not an immediate solution. I looked into purchasing a connector but everyone I found online won't arrive for at least a couple weeks. I can't wait that long.

  2. The company Apple recommends you take your computer to for data recovery wants ~$1000 as an estimate, and the turnaround time is not guaranteed. This is the "standard priority" price, meaning I might spend money that I don't have and not even get the data recovered in time.

My thoughts on my next attempt at a solution:

I've ordered a new MBPr to replace my old one. It arrives in a couple days. My thought is to take off the back of my new MBP and plug in my old drive. From what I've read Apple hasn't updated their hard drive since 2013, so my old drive should be compatible with the new MBPr. If the old drive is okay then I should be able to restore my data before the weekend.

I'm asking for opinions on this solution. I recognize that this would void my warranty, but it is also my understanding from a friend's friend that works at the Genius Bar that there's no way for Apple to ever know I did this should I need to use my warranty for something in the future. For what it's worth, I would do this with the assistance of a very computer-savvy friend.

In particular, I am wondering if anyone can answer the following:

  1. Can anyone confirm that my 2013 A1502 MBPr drive is compatible with the current MBPr model?

  2. Will opening up my computer and temporarily swapping the hard drives compromise my new MBPr in any way?

  3. Am I misinformed about Apple being unable to know I opened the back of my new MBPr should something go wrong?

Alternative solutions welcome. Please help.

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To answer your questions...

  1. The Early 2013 MBP uses a proprietary PCIe SSD. The 2015 uses a proprietary PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD. These are not compatible. If you have a Late 2013 they will be compatible.

  2. Opening your MacBook Pro and swapping SSD's will technically not compromise your Macbook Pro. What you do to the MBP while it's open is another story....

  3. You opening your MacBook Pro (or any consumer device for that matter) cannot void your warranty per US law (see The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) No company, regardless of what tamper evident sticker they put on their product can void your warranty if you open it up.1

As for saving your data, you will need a [USB to PCIe adapter][2] specific to the Apple SSD. I have used this specific model in the past with no problems. You can then connect it to a computer with USB and retrieve your data.

As for your liquid damaged MBP, I highly recommend sending to Rossman Computer Repair in NYC. He is by far, the best logic board rework guy I have found. I have sent him many logic boards that others couldn't repair and he fixed them all. The repair typically costs half the price of a new logic board (around $300-400).

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with him in any way other than being a customer. He even shows his work on YouTube He's a bit wordy at times and very blunt being a New Yorker.


1 I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV. Nothing posted here should be construed as legal advice.

  • Thank you @Allan. Can you please clarify: do you mean the 2013 and 2015 drives are not compatible in the sense that swapping the drives is not even a potential solution, or that they are simply different drives but might still "fit" in the sense Peter described below? – acd Aug 17 '16 at 13:11
  • The difference is whether you have an Early 2013 or a Late 2013. This makes all the difference. the best thing to do is provide your Machine Identifier. In Terminal execute the following command: system_profiler SPHardwareDataType | grep Identifier and post it to your original quesiton – Allan Aug 17 '16 at 13:19
  • the computer won't turn on so I can't execute in Terminal. However I used the serial number to determine the model -- it's Late 2013. I also confirmed this with my shipping receipt from December 2013. I've updated the original post as well. – acd Aug 17 '16 at 13:31
  • Good point....I updated my answer as well. – Allan Aug 17 '16 at 13:33
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First, some (semi) good news. Your data is most likely fine. The $1000 option is for severely damaged and / or corrupted drives.

The SSD adapter is the best choice - it will turn the SSD into an external drive and you can copy stuff off in the usual manner. 2 weeks is unreasonable - do you live somewhere not serviced by FedEx overnight?

Putting the old drive in a new MBP is possible - it will either fit or not fit, at which point you wait for FedEx to deliver the SSD adapter. However, the new MBP will require the most recent OS. If you kept the old one up to date it should run just like the old one. If you were still running Yosemite or Mavericks it will probably not boot - the old software doesn't know about the newer hardware.

A quick look at teardowns (you didn't specify 13 inch or 15 inch) show the drives are somewhat different - when I say "fit" above I mean the connector goes in the slot far enough to work. Not that it sits in it's space and you can put the backplate on again.

If you can find a 2013 MBP from any of the used computer dealers you definitely will be able to drop the old drive in and carry on as before. Updating your backups (and backup process) first of course.

  • Thanks for your response @peter. Both my old and new MBP are the 13-inch retina MBP. I was running El Capitan on my old MBP so it's hopeful it would boot. A lot of the connectors I found online come from China and take at least a few days to fill, so even if I pay for overnight shipping it would be slower than trying my old drive in my new computer. – acd Aug 17 '16 at 12:57

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