Apple fixes frustrating delays in macOS Big Sur downloads [Update: Maybe not!]

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Get your macOS Big Sur download now.
Here’s why you couldn’t download macOS Big Sur earlier.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Anyone who struggled to download the just-released macOS Big Sur might not be surprised to learn that Apple’s backend systems experienced major problems Thursday. By early afternoon, Apple said it fixed the problem. However, glitches lingered, as Apple admitted late in the afternoon.

“At present, you may see this error message appear when attempting to download macOS Big Sur,” Apple Support said on Twitter. “Apple is aware of this behavior and is currently investigating. Try waiting a while and attempting the download again.”

In addition to fouling up Big Sur downloads, the problem caused Apple to quickly pull down some newly seeded iOS, iPadOS and watchOS betas.

No macOS Big Sur for you!

With much fanfare, Apple released macOS Big Sur to the public Thursday. And Mac users trying to download it almost immediately began reporting problems. Since this is such a major update for Macs, the delays proved extremely frustrating.

Early Thursday afternoon, Apple’s System Status page said the macOS Software Update service had problems for several hours. During this time, “Users may not have been able to download macOS Software Updates on Mac computers,” according to Apple.

While the company currently characterizes this as resolved on its status page, all the kinks clearly have not been worked out. That means macOS Big Sur downloads still might not go as smoothly as expected.

The source of the server problem remains unknown.

Apple server problems all over

Apparently, this wasn’t a banner day for several Apple services. In addition to the Big Sur snafu, Maps Routing and Navigation went offline for a time, as did Maps Traffic info. Apple now lists these problems as resolved as well.

In addition, Apple apparently had to withdraw the first beta versions of iOS 14.3, iPadOS 14.3 and watchOS 7.2. These were seeded to developers Thursday, but are no longer available for download.

Editor’s note: We updated this post late Thursday afternoon to include more information about the ongoing macOS Big Sur update problem.