Recovering from recovery errors with Apple’s T2 chip

apple.com/support -2101F

If you came across this post, there’s a good chance you’re staring at your Mac with the T2 chip in horror, because is giving you one of its recovery errors.

These recovery errors occur when attempting Internet Recovery mode and tells you to go to apple.com/support with the error code -2101F or -3403F.

I recently purchased a 2018 MacBook Pro and from day one the thing has been a nightmare. But if there’s one piece of advice I can give you or anyone else: DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO WIPE YOUR INTERNAL SSD! But if you’re here, it’s probably too late for that.

I was able to resolve this error by resetting the NVRAM. With your Mac off, press the power button, then immediately press and hold COMMAND + OPTION + P + R. Continue holding until the Apple logo appears, disappears, then appears again. You may also need to perform a DFU restore similar to the iPhone prior to resetting the NVRAM.

At that point Internet Recovery should work (COMMAND + OPTION + R).

Now that you’ve escaped a heart attack, I encourage you to keep reading.

Protect yourself against bricks

Your internal SSD contains special tokens that “belong” to your unique T2 chip. The idea is that if your SSD is ever tampered with, the T2 chip’s on-the-fly encryption prevents extraction of your data. By default, the T2 chip prevents your hardware from booting from anything other than a trusted, signed version of macOS. It also prevents booting from any external drive. I would equate this feature to BMW’s infamous “deadlock” feature.

This also means that if something goes wrong with your installation of macOS, CONGRATULATIONS! You now own a $3,000 brick.

Unless you absolutely need the T2’s extraction prevention, I implore you to disable these security features and allow external booting until Apple releases a reliable method to recover the internal SSD.