Reader question: Will the hard drive be erased in recovery mode on the Mac?

Mac in recovery mode

Today my reader Franz wrote me a question that I would never have thought of because the answer is so clear to me. For beginners on the Mac, however, it seems less obvious what actually happens in recovery mode.

The mail from Franz - short and sweet:

A warm welcome from Austria. Will the hard drive be erased in recovery mode? Kind regards, Franz

Recovery mode - the recovery mode

In the German Apple support area and also in the windows of the German localization of macOS you can find the term "recovery mode", which is a bit cumbersome. For this reason, the word "recovery mode" or "recovery mode" has held its own with me.

If you reinstall macOS over an existing installation, no data will be lost, but the system files will be repaired or replaced. That solves one or the other error - as well as this boot error.

If you reinstall macOS over an existing installation, no data will be lost, but the system files will be repaired or replaced. That solves one or the other error - as well as this boot error.

What is recovery mode and how to get there, I have in this article about the recovery mode of macOS already described, but for all readers who do not want to make the detour to the other article, I'll explain it again here briefly:

  1. Restart your Mac
  2. Hold down the CMD + R keys

Now the Mac starts up from a small partition that contains a kind of "emergency system". By the way, you can let go of the key combination if it does anything on the screen (white apple or spinning globe).

Erase the hard drive? No!

The big question: will the hard drive be erased now? No, it won't - unless you want it to. You can use the recovery mode to reset your Mac for a sale. To do this, select the hard disk utility in recovery mode and use it to delete the volumes or the entire hard disk.

Then you can go back to the Recovery Mode menu and select "Reinstall macOS" so that the Mac can boot up again with a fresh macOS.

However, if one does not want to do this, no hard drive is automatically erased.

Installing macOS over it does not delete anything either

It is also important to note that even selecting "Reinstall macOS" in recovery mode does not delete any private data. Only the system files are rewritten, but no existing user data is overwritten.

This approach makes perfect sense if you have strange errors on your Mac that cannot be resolved otherwise. Over-installing the operating system sometimes works wonders here.

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