6 Ways to Recover Missing Files After Mac Update to Big Sur or Catalina

2020-08-27 03:51:05 / Posted by Peter William to Recover Follow @ Peter

The beta version (both for developers and testers) of newest macOS 11 Big Sur has been released in August 2020, and its official public version will come soon this fall. 

Even before the official release, we can feel there is an overhauled update to this new version, according to its name macOS 11, instead of continuing with macOS 10. It seems to be brand new to a mac user, with new refined look, instant controls of your apps or widgets, revamped Safari browser, updated Messages app to create more engagements, redesigned Maps, etc. 

A lot of mac users can't wait to update to macOS 11 Big Sur, or some of them are finally ready to update to the Catalina version. Most of the time, we get a perfect mac update and enjoy all the way to the next update. However, some of our mac users just run into following troubles when updating their mac to the latest macOS Big Sur or Catalina version.

Problems We May Have After Update to Big Sur or Catalina


Among all problems, missing files after mac update is definitely a disaster. Today, we are going to give 6 solutions to recover your missing files after mac update to Big Sur or Catalina.

6 Ways to Recover Files after Big Sur/Catalina Update

#1 Manually Check All Your Folders on Mac

Most of the times, we cannot pinpoint the exact reasons causing missing files after mac update and it is a challenge to find back the missing files especially when you are not quite proficient at using your Mac. In this case, you are recommended to manually check each folder on your mac and find the missing files. 

Notes: If there is any folder named as Recovered or Recover-related under an user account, you should never miss these folders, please carefully check each sub folder for missing files.

  1. Click on Apple icon and bring up the Apple Menu;
  2. Go to Go>Go to Folder;recover missing files manually01
  3. Input “~” and continue with Go;recover missing files manually 02
  4. Then check each folder and its subfolders on your mac, find the missing files after mac update.recover missing files manually03


#2 Easiest Way to Recover Missing Files after Mac Update with Success

It is a common sense that the easiest and most efficient way to recover missing files after mac update is using a professional program. On macOS 11 Big Sur or 10.15 Catalina, System Integrity Protection (SIP) prevents any app from reading startup drive. Therefore, you should temporarily disable SIP firstly if you want to recover lost files after mac update using apps.

How to disable System Integrity Protection?

  1. As same as the first step of performing Time Machine. Hold down Command-R to boot into the Recovery Mode.
  2. Click Utilities in the top menu bar and select Terminal.
  3. Type csrutil disable in Terminal windows and press the Enter key. Close Terminal and restart your Mac.

Recover Missing Files after Mac Update with Cisdem

Performing data recovery software is not a particularly difficult affair. You just need a helpful, dedicated and high-efficiency tool, like Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac. It can recover variety of files whether it’s caused by macOS update, accidental deletion, system crash, sudden power off, emptying recycle bin or other reasons. Apart from Mac internal drive, it can also recover deleted, formatted and lost files from other removable devices.

Step 1Choose Recovery Mode

Install Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac, launch it and choose a recovery mode. There are 5 recovery modes on the main interface, we recommend you to use basic data recovery at first. If you are not satisfied with the result, try advanced data recovery.

recover missing files cisdem01

Step 2Scan Missing Files after Mac Update

The software will detect and show partitions on your Mac. Select a specific location where you lost your files, and click Scan button to process.

cisdem data recovery scan missing files

Step 3Recover Missing Files after Mac Update

Once the scanning completed, the program will show the list of files that can be retrieved in the categories of document, photo, audio, video, archive and other. You can preview the missing files and select for later recovery. 

Step 4Click “Recover” to get all the missing files back to your mac.


#3 Login into Different User Account

Don’t be surprised that you are recommended to doing so. Yes, I am quite sure you know which account and how you should login into, but sometimes, macOS update just deletes your old user account profile but keeps the home folder, and that’s the reason why your files are gone and missing. In this case, you just need to add your old profile back and login into again.

  1. Click on the Apple icon, select “Log out xxx”;
  2. Then login with your previous used account again to check if the files can be found, you are recommended to try on all registered accounts on your mac;
  3. If you are not given the choice to login using your old account, click Apple icon>System Preferences>Users & Groups, click on the padlock with your password to add the old account as exactly as before. Then login in to find the missing files.users and groups


#4 Turn Off Saving Files on iCloud Drive

One great benefit that macOS offers to its users is the expanded storage space on iCloud, if you have turn on iCloud Drive, the missing files after mac update are just moved to your iCloud Drive and you need to turn this feature off.

  1. Click on the Apple icon, choose System Preferences>iCloud;icloud
  2. Click on Options under iCloud Drive;
  3. Make sure the box before Desktop & Document Folders is deselected. Then click “Done”;deselect icloud
  4. Then login into your iCoud account, download the files in your iCloud Drive to Mac as needed.

If the box before Desktop & Document Folders is deselected in the fist place, you can try to recover missing files from iCloud backup. That’s to say, you just need to login into iCloud website, choose the files and click the Download icon to save all the missing files onto your mac.


#5 Recover Lost Files from Time Machine

The Time Machine is a piece of backup software that was integrated into the Mac operating system. Mac update deleted everything? The Time Machine can help you recover lost photos, iPhone pictures, documents, calendars, etc. easily. But only if you have backup files as I said.

  1. Reboot your Mac, then hold down Command + R keys to boot into Recovery Mode at once;
  2. Choose Restore from Time Machine Backup and click Continue;
  3. Run Time Machine on Mac, select the files you need to recover and click on Space Bar to preview the files;
  4. Click the Restore button to recover missing files after mac update;recover missing files with time machine

Sometimes Time Machine shows you errors due to the wrong operation or Mac performance. It’s not always successful to recover missing files after mac update. At this time, try Cisdem Data Recovery.


#6 Contact Apple Support

The last but not the least method to recover data if mac update deleted your files is contacting the Apple Support team. Yes, they are professional and what you need to do is submitting a form online, give a call as writing emails as instructed on the contact webpage.


Reasons Why Missing Files After Mac Update

I don't know how I updated without realising, but I now have no files!  Anyone know how I can recover them?---Finoaclare from Apple Discussion

“Missing files after mac update” is a main complaint when users update from Catalina to Big Sur or from Mojave to Catalina, this issue can be caused 
by several situations:

  • Haven’t back up import files on Time Machine. In the event of an accident, the files would be deleted completely, as macOS will be upgraded after deleting all previous files on your hard drive;
  • macOS installed unsuccessfully or interruptedly. The old files are affected that became inaccessible or lost from the drive.
  • Excessive disk fragmentation will lead to the damage of hard drive. Then, your new system may overwrite or delete files from it;
  • That hard drive doesn’t have enough storage space will cause the missing files after mac update as well;
  • Doesn’t upgrade system regularly, as you know, new system, especially the beta version exists many bugs;


Tips to Avoid Missing File After Mac Update

You can take the simple measures below to avoid missing files after mac update to Big Sur or Catalina:

  • Check to see if your Mac can run macOS 11 Big Sur or macOS 10.15 Catalina
  • Check if there any errors on Disk Utility;
  • Disable login/startup items before upgrading;
  • Turn on Time Machine and connect an external drive to make automatic backups;
  • Free up and leave sufficient space to update macOS;
  • Remain at least 45 percent of power on your Mac and keep the network smooth;
  • Make sure the apps on your Mac are up-to-date;

Final Words

It is true that you should try different ways to recover the missing files after macOS update, the issue can be easy or difficult, as long as you find the appropriate method to fix it. Generally speaking, if you have backed up your mac, you can easily find back the missing files via Time Machine or other online storage service, otherwise, you are recommended to use Cisdem Data Recovery, which can guarantee that most of the missing files can be restored.

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1 Comments Leave a Reply

  • Jothany

    I updated to Catalina beta version yesterday and lost the files, it did worked when i followed your instructions to deselect iCloud drive, thanks very much.

    1 years ago REPLY