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.