Guide to Update Mac OS X EI Capitan without Losing Data

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After I updated my Macbook I discovered that I’d lost all of my data. I want to update my other laptop but is there a way to update without losing data?

It seems like a fair request. After all, when you install the OS X EI Capitan update, there’s no reason for you to expect data loss. Unfortunately, this has become a big problem and a lot of Mac users are experiencing it. How can you approach this? At the moment there are a few things we can do to counter the data loss. In this article, we’ll be explaining everything you need to know about updating your computer to Mac OS X EI Capitan whilst avoiding losing data.

upgrade to OS X El Capitan

Part 1: Check Whether Your Device Can Update to EI Capitan

The first step in avoiding data loss when you update to Mac OS X EI Capitan is ensuring that your Mac is actually compatible with the update. Not all Mac computers support this update and attempting to install it could have negative consequences. The main requirements for updating to Mac OS X EI Capitan are:

  • Minimum of 2GB of RAM/Memory

  • Minimum of 8.8GB of free storage available

In addition, not all Mac models are compatible. The models which are supported by this update are:

  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)

  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, Early 2009, or newer)

  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2007 or newer)

  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)

  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)

  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

…and some of Apple’s server units, known as Xserve. If you’re not sure about what Mac you have and want to confirm that you meet all of the requirements, click the Apple icon and go to “About This Mac”. From here, you’ll find the amount of RAM that’s installed, how much storage the laptop has, and your Mac’s model.

Part 2: Make a Backup Before the EI Capitan Update

After confirming that you have a Mac which supports OS X EI Capitan update, you can continue to take a backup. This is a key step if you want there to be no data loss. It’s not worth risking the loss of precious files, like family photos or work documents. On Mac computers, it’s really easy to take a backup too.

Apple has a system tool called Time Machine that all Macs have. With it, you’re able to take backups quickly to an external storage device. If you haven’t already set up Time Machine, the steps below will explain how to use it.

  • Step 1. Take an external storage device, like a hard drive or memory stick, and connect it to the Mac via USB.

  • Step 2. Once the Mac detects the new storage connection, you’ll be shown a prompt. Check the box to “Encrypt Backup Disk” and then press the button “Use as Backup Disk”.

Select your storage device as the backup disk

By encrypting the backup disk, you will add an extra layer of security to it. Restoring the backup will require a password, so remember this.

If you don’t see this prompt, you can set up Time Machine manually this way:

  • Step 1. Click the Apple icon and select “System Preferences”, and go to Time Machine.

  • Step 2. Enable “Back Up Automatically” to have data backed up automatically in the future.

  • Step 3. Click the button “Select Backup Disk…” and choose your external storage device.

  • macOS High Sierra System Preferences Time Machine

  • Step 4. Check “Encrypt backups” and press the “Use Disk” button. If you are urged to format the disk, then you must click on “Erase” for the process to work.

  • macOS High Sierra System Preferences Time Machine

It’s also important that you take backups to an external storage device, preferably an external hard drive due to the large storage capacity. The reason for this is that if updating the Mac version does cause data loss and you have the backup on the Mac, it’ll be gone too. Whereas on an external device, the backup will be unharmed.

Part 3: Update Mac OS X to EI Capitan from the Mac App Store

Moving on to the third step of this guide, it’s time to actually update your Mac. Doing this right will allow the update to EI Capitan no data loss issue to go smoothly. Something worth remembering before hopping into this installation is that Apple releases a fair amount of updates. Therefore, there are different versions of OS X EI Capitan update.

For the best results you should choose to go with the most recent version of the update. This is because it will include the fixes to reported bugs, it likely has some minor security patches, and it is generally good practice to keep any software up to date. Here’s how to install the update.

  • Step 1. Open the App Store on your Mac computer, and search to find the EI Capitan store page.

  • Step 2. Download the latest version of the update, or download the appropriate version from one of the links above.

  • Step 3. After the update has fully downloaded, it will run the installer.

  • Step 4. Follow the installation instructions shown on the installer to proceed with updating Mac.

Installing a Mac OS update won’t take a crazy amount of time. After the installation is over you can enjoy the new features that the update brought, and you’ll find out if it resulted in data loss or not.

Part 4: Recover Lost Data After Updating Mac OS X EI Capitan

Now that you have the Mac update installed, you’ll be able to determine if there’s been data loss. It’s likely that there has been, and this can cause panic among users. But don’t worry, this third-party data recovery program will help. AnyRecover is the perfect tool for tackling data loss after the OS X EI Capitan update for plenty of reasons.


1,000,000 + Downloads

Features of iMyFone AnyRecover:        

Capable of recovering over 1000 data types lost after users update to Mac OS X EI Capitan.

A suitable solution for recovering corrupt, deleted, and infected files on Mac.

AnyRecover has a high success rate and recovers data fast.

Recovers files from any storage device (hard drives, memory sticks, and SD cards) if the Mac update has affected data on the device.

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Here’s how you can avoid data loss after Mac updates:

Step 1. Download AnyRecover (either the free or full paid version), install it accordingly, and launch the program. From the main menu’s list of recovery modes, click on “All-Round Recovery”.

anyrecover home mac

Step 2. On the next page, choose the file directory where data was lost from. You can either choose the hard drive or a more specific folder where certain files were stored.

all round location mac

Step 3. Click “Next” and on the following menu, choose whatever data type to scan for. Check the box “All File Types” to scan for any file, and click on “Scan” to proceed.

all round recovery select file type mac

Step 4. The scan will take longer if you select a whole hard drive or a large folder. Once it is complete, you can browse the data that was found and preview it to double-check before recovery. Select the files to recover, click the “Recover” button, and choose a new folder to save the data to.

all round recovery scan complete mac

AnyRecover provides an in-depth scanning process that is easy to use and can detect absolutely any file that has been lost, deleted, or corrupt. This guide is just one example of where this software comes in handy.


That sums up everything you need to know to update to Mac OS X EI Capitan and avoiding data loss in the process. As unfortunate an error as it is, these things can happen. Hopefully, you find out that data loss can occur before updating and take steps to prevent it, but there are lots of people who have already updated and lost files. If you’re one of these people then use AnyRecover. With this tool, you can restore lost files under any circumstances, including after updating. It’s an extremely easy software to use, highly effective, and can retrieve any file type!

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By  Simon Marcus , to External Device Recovery

Updated on Jan 11, 2021

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