My machine is a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012) with AFPS formatted Kingston 480Gb SSD. Running the latest OS X High Sierra 10.13.4 (17E202)

For a while, the machine was running OK but I had a few times where it crashed resulting in the following symptoms:

  • All I could see was my desktop pictures; no dock, couldn't force quit/restart the Finder.

On one occasion, I just rebooted and it was OK. The last time, same thing happened and I rebooted to get the prohibitory symbol (circle with a cross through it). So I decided to boot into verbose mode and the last message I get is:

Could not find APFS system volume handle!

I've tried reinstalling High Sierra on another old drive, making a bootable USB and repairing it and it just says that I should back up the data on the drive. Unfortunately I don't have the exact message because it would involve taking the drive out again and writing it down.

I've searched around a bit but could only find any details about this message on a dead thread on the Apple Discussions forum.

Has anybody had this experience and found a way to recover the data off the drive rather than just erasing the drive and starting from scratch?

Some more details:

I've tried the option reinstall Mac OSX but it just doesn't recognise the disk at all; the drive doesn't show in the window at all.

Heres the previous thread on Apple Discussions which explains the exact symptoms with screenshots:


  • 1
    Setting aside the error, what happens when you boot your Mac to target disk mode and connect it to another Mac? If it mounts, your data is readable. If it doesn’t you need a utility or tool to recover the files, no?
    – bmike
    May 10, 2018 at 12:20
  • @bmike Unfortunately I don't have another machine to hook it up to in target mode ATM but that is a good suggestion. When I went to check the disk in disk utility from a High Sierra USB recovery disk, it recognises the volume but it's like it's unmounted and cant be mounted at all. May 10, 2018 at 12:32
  • Bummer. If you had a backup, you could use recovery to reformat and erase the drive. I’ll answer with one free repair option, but there’s risk anything you do could make recovery less possible.
    – bmike
    May 10, 2018 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


The best chance for data backup (assuming you don’t have any backups) is to connect the Mac to another in target disk mode.

If you don’t want to pay for recovery software, you could boot to recovery HD and let disk utility try to repair the volume. This can cause further data loss (the file system heals but files with data get deleted).

Disk Utility isn’t designed to lose data and most of the time will warn you if the next step is expensive data recovery or an erase and reinstall.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .