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I have to give my Macbook Pro to a service center for a few days to replace the display. Is it safe from the data perspective? Can they access it? (user login is password protected, but I think the data is not encrypted) Can they just take hard drive and copy everything? What should I do to avoid it?

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    No. They will reformat your hard drive given the slightest excuse, and you will be signing a disclaimer explicitly permitting them to do so. That is all that some of them know how to do. Do not take this risk.
    – user207421
    Aug 20, 2017 at 10:04
  • It doesn't make sense to talk about "safe" without a threat model. What do you want to be safe against? Whom do you want to be safe against? How much money is your attacker willing to spend? Who is your attacker? How much collateral damage is your attacker willing to risk? How much time is he willing to spend? What is he attacking? Why is he attacking? What is his goal? Are you worried about losing (some of) your data? Yes, that can happen, and it is perfectly legal, in fact, as was mentioned, you will have to sign a release form precisely for that event. Are you worried about someone … Aug 20, 2017 at 17:21
  • … stealing your data? Yes, that can happen, too. It would be illegal, of course, but they can do it. You give them your laptop, they can do pretty much anything, unless you use Full Disk Encryption. (And even in that case, they can at least destroy your data, install a keylogger in your BIOS, install a modified network card that sends all your traffic to the NSA, install a listening device inside the casing, rig your laptop with a bomb, etc.) Aug 20, 2017 at 17:23

3 Answers 3

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Often a service center need access to the Mac to verify if the problems are solved. You can do a few things.

  1. The most important thing first. Make a backup from all your data before you give your Mac to the service center.
  2. Turn on FileVault. It encrypts the harddisk.
  3. Make a second user and provide these details to the service center so they can test.
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    When I take my Mac to the Apple Store, I create an Admin account called "Apple" with a password "Apple" just for them. I delete the account as soon as I get the computer back. Aug 20, 2017 at 9:14
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    And at some level, you have to have faith in the service center. Yes, in theory, they could copy your entire disk. But, they have a business to run and reputation to uphold; it's not in their interest to do anything nefarious. Aug 20, 2017 at 9:17
  • Why not just activate the guest account?
    – FooBar
    Aug 20, 2017 at 12:17
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    @Zonker.in.Geneva If FileVault is enabled, copying the disk doesn't get them very far anyway. Trust, but enforce.
    – Undo
    Aug 20, 2017 at 14:03
  • Are you suggesting to grant the second user access to the encrypted disk?
    – Carsten S
    Aug 20, 2017 at 19:52
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I would (and did) make two separate backups on different drives.

Then I removed all my data (no I did not go through the process of writing 0's 7 or 35 times) and sent my Imac in.

They sorted the display issue and it came back corrected.

Re-installed data and all was fine.

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Much of what was wrote about trusting the Genius Bar applies to any service center.

What contract is in place? What damage is done if you have confidential or private information? There are some cases where a hardware failure is hard to test or reproduce from a clean install without a defined minimal test case of data or setup, so it could be in your interest to not wipe your data.

In your case - wiping it for a display swap seems prudent if you have any doubts that your data shouldn’t be shared.

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