Mac users who pay attention to software updates may have noticed something strange over the past few years: macOS updates have gotten utterly massive.
On iOS and older macOS versions, software updates would come in at a few hundred megabytes each, perhaps even smaller for basic fixes. But ever since Big Sur, you’re lucky to get anything smaller than 2-3GB a pop, even when the update, itself, only requires a few megabytes. This wastes data and time and—when it’s all added together—a significant amount of energy. So why are they so big? It’s mostly about reliability.
“With Big Sur, Apple not only changed the System volume, so that macOS now boots from a sealed snapshot of the system, but it changed the way that macOS is updated,” Mac expert Dr. Howard Oakley told Lifewire via email.