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Migrating / Importing or Repairing APFS Unmountable OS Partition

Please help me brainstorm this topic.

I am getting more and more broken APFS OS Partitions. Mostly Catalina but also Big Sur and Monterey.

I could recover data using disk drill, r-studio and other data recovery software but Id like to find reliable way to mount or repair or reinstall or migrate operating systems with applications, settings and data.

Im almost sure that there is no available tool to fix directory on APFS volume or force mount it and Disk Utility repair is not helping either.

  1. Has anyone found a way to recover not mountable APFS OS with apps and settings?
  2. Has anyone successfully tried cloning data recovered with other app into other working APFS volume and then migrate again or reinstall OS on top of it?
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So far other than what Apple supplies within Disk Utility there is no 3rd party tool to fix APFS volumes or low level corruption.

The only way is to nuke the drive fully and then reformatting it. Even that only goes so far as there are boot block elements which can become over worn requiring a new SSD.

Using a bootable external drive (macOS Sierra 10.12) which I've also installed the OS installer app and DX Drive to see how worn the SSD is as far as I go in checking it.

Reformat the drive using the external drive as your boot drive so there is nothing holding your internal drive open. I even go as far as formatting it GUID and a journaled file system (now called Mac Extended) which is the older HFS+ structure and then check it out using some drive testing apps.

But be careful! The testing apps will write and rewrite data on the drive each time stealing a bit of life from the SSD.

Then run the the OS installer, I start with macOS Mojave (10.14.6) on the Intel systems, then upgrade to what the customer wants.

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Thank you but starting from empty system is not what I am looking for.

Many cases I had so far was only logical corruption and SSD was completely OK.

I am looking the way to recover the data, settings and apps into working OS and not start from scratch.




@windcatcher - I fully understand! You are using a cloned image to restore your stuff over and this image has errors so when you try to restore the drive then encounters issues. This is not that uncommon! More so when working with a spinning disk HDD restoring onto a solid state SSD.

I've had to restore the data onto another HDD which is formatted with HFS+ vs trying to us APFS so I could try to fix the errors with disk tools that will work. I wouldn't try this on the only copy of your stuff.

If you are just trying to figure out how to backup properly I would recommend you use TimeMachine and/or if you have a way to hold the old drive in an external case you can just use Migration Assistant both are Apple apps which will do the job.


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