Get Mac OS X Lion Without Exceeding Your Download Cap

Get Mac OS X Lion Without Exceeding Your Download Cap

Mac OS X Lion has officially gone on sale, but it’s a 3.6GB download that’s only available through the Mac App Store. Here are some simple suggestions to avoid chewing through all your monthly allowance while getting the latest Mac goodness.Sure, if you have a plan offering 100GB or more, 3.6GB might seem like small change. However, we know that the average Australian only downloads 6GB a month, which means that many people don’t have so much room to play with and face either shaping or an excess download bill.

3.6GB or so is particularly painful (and potentially expensive) if you’re still on a dial-up or 3G connection. However, there’s no official alternative right now; Apple isn’t initially making Lion available in any physical form for consumers. There will be a USB version in “late August”, but that will cost $75.

If you like the sound of Lion’s feature set (many people do, but others are less keen), you’ll want to firstly make sure your system is ready for the upgrade, and that you have $31.99 available to pay for it. Then consider the following approaches:

Go to a location with free Wi-Fi. Obviously this only works for MacBook owners. My favourite suggestion for this is to go to your nearest Apple store for the download. The staff won’t complain, as Apple itself is promoting this approach. We normally recommend McDonald’s for free Wi-Fi, but as it imposes download limits, it isn’t a good choice here. (The same applies to many cafes that offer Wi-Fi.) The other possibility is a state or public library.

A variant on the same theme is to take your machine to work and download the update there, but tread carefully and check you’re not violating workplace policies.

Download during your off-peak period. Many ISPs distinguish between peak and off-peak use when calculating your download limits; in those cases, off-peak is usually in the midnight hours (often something like 12am-7am, though every ISP varies). If this applies to you, set your download for those overnight hours rather than during the day.

A special note for iiNet customers: while iiNet offers unmetered downloads from the iTunes App Store, we checked today and a spokesperson confirmed that this offer doesn’t extend to the Mac App Store, so don’t be gloating.

Wait until a friend downloads it, and get them to burn it to a DVD. Our full guide to burning the installer to DVD tells you what you need to know.

Wait a couple of days. Whatever approach you use and whatever your download limit is, there’s something to be said for not trying to get Lion in the first 24 hours. Apple’s servers are often painfully slow when there’s a simple iTunes or iOS update; with Macs going into an update frenzy, we can only imagine it will be worse. Patience will pay dividends.

Other suggestions and tricks for dealing with this problem? Share them in the comments.


  • When I want to download large files I tend to wait until the night my downloads reset. I set the downloads going, and set up an automatic shutdown for midnight. This wouldn’t work if you pay for excess downloads, but is perfect in my opinion if you are just worrying about shaping.

    • I used to do that but I got stung with Telstra who count the data in 4 hour blocks so I got about 6 gig’s tacked on to next months usage as they began counting from 9pm onto the next months usage.

      Admittedly I was taking advantage of their shaping bug which often wouldn’t shape right on the dot so I had made it to 60 GB on my 20GB plan at that stage. However no amount of pleading to tech support would make them change their mind.

      I am now with Internode which is based in Adelaide so I would be wary of the time zone differences also between yourself and the ISP which could also be affected in Daylight Saving Time.

  • I’m planing on making a boot DVD from it tonight. I wonder if I was to make a boot disk that if I was to give the disk to anyone would they still need my App store account to make their Mac one of mine authorized Mac’s?

  • Maybe using a download manager like my favourite Firefox extension DownThemAll. And splitting the download between a few Free Wi-Fi hotspots.

  • I’d wait a while to read/hear about the incompatibilities between other software. For me d/l Lion would mean about 15/20 GB of downloads as there will be 4GB Lion, 4GB xCode, other .5 GB Roms for iPhone and iPad, then updates to Apps… Maybe not immediately for me.

  • Sure this was an issue back when I paid $89 for 40GB with Internode, but seriously… for the same money I was paying a year ago, I now get 250GB a month… (8GB / day) so really… things like this are simply a NON-ISSUE any longer…

    I will simply set my iMac and Macbook Air to each download their own copy of Lion from the App Store, and I’ll still have a couple GB spare for that days’ interweb activities…. easy, simple, solved.

    I just assumed that most major ISP’s had now increased the caps due to competition to the point that for 90% of the users they will never go NEAR the caps now given.

    Personally will hold off a few weeks for Lion as it’s not overly compelling from what I’ve seen, and you always want to wait for the “Dohhh !!!” bugs that Apple has missed in testing to be (a) identified and (b) fixed 🙂

  • I’m looking forward to it. Have been checking the website for the last 24hours, and I was impressed to see the #1 Free App in the store is Australian software (actually 2 suburbs from where I live).

    C’mon on Steve put the box on the shelf. My money’s burning a hole in my pocket.

    • PS I have a new SSD to go into the MBP (got sick of girlfriend’s MBA being so damn quick).
      So I want to do my Lion install on the new drive, and feel the speed.

      Will be interesting to see if I can burn it to some bootable media.

  • I’m screwed, I’m rural and can only use 3G with a max 12GB limit. And there is no way I can carry my Mac Pro to the Apple store. A few weeks ago I downloaded the first developer preview of Lion and it was a nightmare. Twice I lost connection and had to start again, and one of those times it was 95% complete. You’d think Apple would know how to build a decent Download facility but they can’t. Both the Mac App store and iTunes always restarts a download from the beginning after a comms failure. Morons, and the concept of releasing Lion this way is moronic.

  • -“buy a mac they’re much better than windows”
    -“hey there’s an update out”
    -“oh, it says i have to pay?”

    bought my MBP a week before the free update cut off, what a joke.

    • At $30 USD for a new Operating System, don’t complain. The Joke is spending $200-$300 for various flavors of Microsoft Windows when you upgrade. If you need a feature that isn’t included in the version you bought, you have to pay another $199+ to upgrade again.

      Apple gives you everything for $30. Enjoy!

      • You can’t seriously claim that lion is a NEW OS compared to snow leopard. also I can complain after spending thousands of dollars JUST over a month ago on a laptop and then being told I have to pay more to have the “new” OS. Reminds me of some homeless who will always ask for more money despite how much you give them.

        • He can…..

          Window 98=windows xp=windows 7…. They all still work off the same core programming. Dos codes still word in their terminals. They just are fancy gui upgrades. How about paying $200 for windows me….

          • Windows:
            Pay $200-$300 for a new OS

            Pay $30 for an update every couple of years.

            Personally I prefer Apple’s approach, it doesn’t screw over late adopters and because the updates aren’t always that significant you can skip it if you want.

    • James, I am pretty sure I saw some advertisment on the mac website about how new buyers can upgrade for free if they don’t have it. I’d check it out.

  • How can I schedule the download to start off-peak in the app store? I have had a look around and seached help and get nothing…..

    Do I have to set the alarm for 1am to start it then???

    Thanks in advance,

  • This is weird. My wife is a Mac user and would love to upgrade to Lion, but it just doesn’t seem to be available in the Mac App Store. I didn’t believe her so she challenged me to find out how to buy it … and I can’t. There’s a link that says “Download today” but that take you to another page with no download button. WTF? We live in Australia, is it not available here yet?

    • For anyone else with this problem, I have the answer. On the top left of the Lion page in the Mac App Store, is a drop-down menu showing the price. If you click the down arrow, you get some options that don’t help you buy anything, but if you click the price itself, you get the buy now button.

      Why Apple would hire a website designer so stupid they would hide the buy now button is beyond me. But they did. According to Apple Support in Australia, they have had a gazillion calls on this subject. I’m not surprised! They haven’t changed it yet though.

  • Not impressed with Lion – just wasted 32$ and 3,7gigs of Internet download for something that is not as good as Snow Leopard. Importantly my Bigpond wireless Sierra card is not compatible with Lion so now I have to roll back to Snow Leopard – what a pain and so much wasted time and effort too.

  • i have been able to get the real setup MAC OS X Lion on the apple store…i have it on my desktop now and it can install on any mac without the mac app needed.anyone needs it let me know

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