3 Steps to Reinstall macOS Sonoma, Ventura or Monterey Without Losing Data

Connie Wisley
September 26, 2023 Preview 43.4K Preview 1
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If you have installed Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina or earlier versions, you may have to reinstall macOS for following reasons:

  • Your System Keeps Crashing or Works Improperly

When you continuously see error messages appear on your Mac, or your programs randomly crash/freeze for no reason, like FaceTime won't work, Contacts or Calendar shows a delay or mess, Bluetooth or WiFi won't connect…Then, you have a good reason to reinstall macOS.

  • Reinstall When There is New macOS Version Available

Apple keeps working constantly to fix bugs, make performance tweaks, add new features or enhance coding. Therefore, doubtless, there will be new versions of macOS available to upgrade and reinstall. 

  • Your Mac is Running Slow

As we all know, for no specific reason, system reinstallation can magically solve a slow Mac in most cases.

  • You are Going to Sell the Mac 

In the case that you want to sell your Mac, besides erasing all your personal data and traces on the Mac, you will need to reinstall macOS as well. 

It is not complicated to reinstall macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur, but if you want to reinstall macOS without losing data, there are 3 steps you must follow.

3 Steps to Reinstall macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur Without Losing Data

We all save tons of data on our Mac, so when we decide to reinstall macOS Sonoma, Ventura/Monterey/Big Sur, the top concern always goes to “will I lost everything if I reinstall macOS”. In fact, reinstallation of macOS doesn’t necessarily cause data loss, it just creates a new copy, your existing files and data saved in programs won't be altered or deleted. But just in case of bad luck, we need to do some work on BACKUP, this is crucial for macOS reinstallation without losing data.

Step 1. Prepare Your Mac for Reinstallation.

  • Make enough room for Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur reinstallation, at least 35GB, so the reinstallation process won't pause or stop for insufficient space. 
  • Also, quit all apps or programs under work, so your Mac is fully geared to be reinstalled.
  • Check drive conditions. Open Disk Utility and perform the First Aid on your hard drive where to reinstall the macOS to make sure your drive is in good condition for reinstallation.
  • If you are reinstalling macOS on a Macbook, make sure the battery percentage is more than 80%.


Step 2. Backup All Your Files for macOS Install (Crucial).

Backup is an indispensable step involved in the macOS reinstallation, here are several options to backup your data.

Option One: Using Time Machine

  1. Connect an external drive to Mac for backup.
  2. Go to Finder > Application, launch Time Machine and choose “Set Up Time Machine”.setup time machine
  3. Click “Select Backup Disk” to choose an external hard drive to back up the files.back up with time machine
  4. Then Check the box before “Back Up Automatically”. Also, you can adjust the backup setting in menu “Options”.

If this is the first time you use Time Machine to backup, wait patiently for Time Machine to complete the backup, it will prompt the notification once finishes.

backup complete


Option Two: Using Hard Drive 

  1. Connect your hard drive to Mac.
  2. Open Finder to check if your hard drive is present under “Devices”.
  3. Create a new folder, copy and paste or directly move the items you want to save from Mac to this folder.
  4. Finally, eject your hard drive.


Option Three: Using iCloud Service (Backup Desktop and Documents Folders)

  1. Go to Finder > System Preference, click on “iCloud” to bring up its main interface.back up with icloud
  2. Click the “Options” button for “iCloud”, and check the box before “Desktop and Documents Folders”, then click on “Done”.back up with icloud 02

Most of our Mac users prefer to backup all files but apps. So, to save you from troubles of lost data due to macOS reinstallation, you are recommended to keep records of what apps you have installed, the account and password, also, you can take screenshots of the settings.

Step 3. Reinstall macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur without Losing Data.

Option #1: Reinstall macOS without Losing Data From Internet Recovery

(Notes: If your Mac is ON, click on Apple icon, go to Restart to turn off the Mac first.)

  1. Turn on your Mac and go to Options.
    For Apple Silicon: Press and hold Power button until you see the startup options window.
    For Intel Processor: Press Power button and immediately press & hold Option-Command (⌘)-R until you see the Apple logo.
  2. Then choose “Reinstall macOS Ventura” from options window and click “Continue”.reinstall macos
  3. Select your hard drive, click “Install” and wait for end of reinstallation.reinstall from internet recovery


Option #2 Reinstall macOS without Losing Data From USB

  1. Download the macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur installer using Safari or other web browsers onto your Mac.
  2. Then connect a USB flash drive to your Mac.
  3. Open Disk Utility program on your Mac, choose the USB flash drive and click Erase to have a clean drive for the reinstallation.reinstall from usb01
  4. Open Terminal, copy and paste the following command as per different macOS system to be reinstalled.
  • For Sonoma reinstallation: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sonoma.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • For Ventura reinstallation: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Ventura.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • For Monterey reinstallation: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Monterey.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia
  • For Big Sur reinstallation: sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Big\ Sur.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmediareinstall macos monterey usb 1
  1. Then add the volume of USB flash drive: --volume /Volumes/MyVolume, replace MyVolume with your USB flash drive name, mine is Untitled.reinstall macos monterey usb 2
  2. Press Enter, input password and wait for the process to finish.reinstall monterey usb 3
  3. Quit Terminal and eject the USB.
  4. Plug the USB bootable installer into your Mac, make sure the Mac is connected to the internet.
  5. Press and hold Option (Alt) key immediately after restarting the Mac, release the Option key when the screen showing your bootable volumes.
  6. Select the USB volume and press Return.
  7. Choose Install macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur, click Continue to finish Mac reinstallation from USB.

tips: If you are using an Apple Silicon Mac, from step 9, you should press and hold the Power button until you see the startup options and follow the subsequent instructions to finish the macOS reinstallation.

What if You Lost Data After macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur Reinstallation?

However, losing data after reinstallation still happens. It may result from an interrupted installation (power-off/poor internet connection), corrupt setup, insufficient space or improper actions. Then, what to do if you lost data after reinstallation? Here are 2 methods.

Method 1: Use Cisdem Data Recovery to Recover Data

In the case you didn’t do backup before reinstallation, you will need a dedicated data recovery program to find the lost data for you.

Here we recommend Cisdem Data Recovery, a powerful Mac program allowing users to recover lost/deleted/corrupted/formatted files from a wide range of external or internal storage devices, no matter the file is lost due to human errors, power-off, reinstallation, upgrade, virus attack or disk crash.

Main Features of Cisdem Data Recovery

  • Recover files lost due to OS reinstallation, upgrade, downgrade
  • Recover deleted, formatted and lost files
  • Restore files from internal and external hard drive, USB, SD Card, flash drive, etc.
  • Restore videos, audios, images, documents, archives, 200+ types
  • Repair videos that cannot be opened
  • Apply both quick and deep scan
  • Preview files before recovery
  • Fast scanning and recovery
  • Recover files to local drive or cloud platforms

Steps to Recover Lost Data after MacOS Reinstallation

  1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on Mac.
    Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  2. Choose the Mac drive. Go to Hardware Disk and select the Mac drive that stored your data.choose a mode
  3. Click “Search for lost files”. Go to Path or Type to check the found files. You can also use the filter tool to quickly search specific files.choose a disk
  4. Preview files found by Cisdem Data Recovery. Then click Recover button to restore the lost data.found files


Method 2: Use Time Machine to Recover Data with Backup

If you have backed up your files on Mac, you can use Time Machine to restore the lost data.

  • Step 1. Go to Finder > Applications > Time Machine, launch it and choose “Enter Time Machine”. 
  • Step 2. In the popped-up window, use the arrows and timeline to browse the local snapshots and backups.recover with time machine
  • Step 3. Find the lost files, then click “Restore” to recover the lost data caused by macOS reinstallation.


macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur Reinstallation Not Working?

If you have taken all necessary preparations and followed exactly every steps as listed above but still failed to reinstall macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey or Big Sur on your Mac, we will walk you through several solutions in this part to fix reinstallation not working.

  1. Check your internet connection and make sure it is stable.
  2. Use Disk Utility to repair the startup disk first. Go to Applications > Disk Utility > Choose Startup drive > First Aid to repair it.
  3. Do the reinstallation again and make sure you've followed each step without error.
  4. If above solutions won’t work and you insist the reinstallation on your Mac, go erasing your Mac first, then reinstall macOS by following above steps. Do remember to make a backup before erasing.
  5. Downgrade to Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina or earlier versions if no other solutions work on your Mac.



The key to reinstall mac OS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur or Catalina without losing data is the backup, since no one can guarantee all data will be perfectly maintained after macOS reinstallation. However, if we unfortunately lost files after macOS reinstallation, Time Machine or Cisdem Data Recovery is helpful to recover them back.

So, do you have any other tips to reinstall macOS without losing data? Please share with more of our Mac users in the comments.

Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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  • Murphy

    This post timely reminds me to backup my macOS before reinstallation. Thanks god I won't lose any data.

    1 years ago commonReply

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