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5.9. Updating your operating System (Big Sur)

Considering updating to the latest macOS version?

While macOS Big Sur is a free download and arrives as a simple to use installer from the Mac App Store, you'll want to prepare your Mac before jumping into a new release of MacOS. The new system is a major release and changes many of the drivers and features that you will no doubt rely on within your premises. Whilst in the vast majority of cases system updates are applied successfully, it is possible that you may experience problems ranging from stability/reliability issues from certain applications (Adobe Creative Cloud for example), issues with email, printing, connecting to your network, accessing servers and peripherals. At worst, the update may fail and render your computer inoperable. Although the chances of a failed update is quite small it's important that you are aware of the possible implications of running an operating system update.

It's also worth noting that if your computer is already suffering with performance issues or is unstable, or it's an older model, then applying the upgrade will likely have a negative impact on your computer. Please contact us if in doubt.

Below we have outlined some important steps before upgrading your system.

Customers with a support plan with CIT (UK) should bear in mind the following when self-updating an operating system system:

- Minor updates such as MacOS 10.12.4 to MacOS 10.12.5 are supported by CIT (UK). We recommend that you contact us first for advice before proceeding.
- We support all self-installed applications, drivers and and their respective updates. An example of this is Adobe Creative Cloud or Microsoft Office. 
- Security updates published by Apple should always be applied. Please download and install them.
- Major system updates such as upgrading from macOS 10.15 (Catalina) to macOS 11 (Big Sur) isn't supported by a CIT (UK) Support Plan. Whilst we'll do our very best to help you, call outs and site visits to correct a failed system update may result in charges.

1: Confirm System Requirements Compatibility

Here is a full list of the Macs that will be able to download the upgrade for Big Sur:

General Requirements

* If upgrading from macOS Sierra or later, macOS Big Sur requires 35.5GB of available storage to upgrade. If upgrading from an earlier release, macOS Big Sur requires up to 44.5GB of available storage.

2: Check to make sure your software will work with the new system

Developers are working hard to ensure that their software is compatible with Big Sur but if you're working in a production environment, it's worth checking for any potential problems you might experience after the update by visiting the developers website.

It's also worth considering peripheral and network support. For example, it's possible that you're using a printer driver, Wacom tablet, scanner etc which might not be supported by the new system. Another common example is that Apple Mail might not be compatible with your companies mail server.

2: Update Apps & Install Lingering Software Updates

It's always good practice to regularly update your Mac apps, system software, and the other occasional updates that come through to macOS, but many of us ignore these things.

Check the Mac App Store on a regular basis to install updates on apps you have bought there. (To do this in the Mac App Store app, click on the Updates tab. This will check the store for any updates.)

If you have software you didn't get in the Mac App Store, launch the app and look in the preferences or other menus for an option to check for updates. You can also look on the developer's website.

3: Perform General System Maintenance

If your Mac is low on hard drive space, free up disk space so that you have enough available storage to install the update and be sure that the macOS has plenty of space to run well (that means plenty of room for caches, virtual memory, your own files and apps, etc).

Also, if you have some old Mac apps that are sitting around collecting dust and never being used, you may want to consider uninstalling them to free up some space and reduce overhead for functions like Software Update.

We would also highly recommend that the hard disk is checked for problems within disk utility (utilities folder) before proceeding with the upgrade.

4: Back Up the Mac

You're almost ready to install Big Sur! But before doing so, you absolutely must back up your Mac. This should not be considered optional, without a backup you could lose your stuff if something goes wrong. Don't risk it, just back up your Mac. Time Machine is so easy to use, runs automatically and routinely, and external hard drives are cheap. Seriously, there's no excuse and the risk is not worth it, always have backups. You might even save your important documents separately from your primary backup, just in case.

Time Machine

Remember to start a backup with Time Machine right before you begin the actual installation with Big Sur, this insures that if a disaster happens, you can resume to exactly where you were right before the problem happened. Do not skip this!

5: Download Big Sur & Install

Checked everything off the list and you're ready to go? Head to the App Store, start the download on your Mac, and update to macOS Big Sur, and enjoy!

How do I install macOS Big Sur? After you download Big Sur from the App Store, there are several ways to run the installation.

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