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Don’t Install macOS Big Sur if You Have an Older MacBook Pro

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published by Chand Bellur
November 15, 2020 at 12:35 p.m.


  • macOS Big Sur is the most significant change to Apple’s Macintosh operating system in 20 years.
  • Many 13″ MacBook Pro owners experienced non-responsive (“bricked”) computers while attempting the macOS Big Sur update.
  • 2013 and 2014 13″ MacBook Pro models seem most susceptible to failure while installing the Big Sur update.
  • Disgruntled Mac users took to Apple Support Communities and social media, complaining about the issue, which seems to affect thousands.
  • If your Mac is essential to your life and livelihood, consider postponing the Big Sur update until it’s more stable.

Big Sur: Big Changes and Big Problems

The more complicated a product is, the more that can go wrong. This seems to be why Apple’s reputation for quality is rapidly slipping away. As the Cupertino tech giant releases more devices and software, the complexity becomes too much for a large, latent organization to handle. 

As many Mac users rushed to usher in a new era of macOS, they ended up with an unpleasant surprise. At the end of the update process, affected Macs only display a blank screen. The LED status light shows that the machine is on; however, the operating system won’t load. The Mac is essentially unusable — “bricked”.

Typical methods of fixing an unresponsive Mac don’t seem to work. This black screen of death is impenetrable. No amount of resetting or mystical keyboard combinations will resurrect these dead Macs.

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Others experience problems such as restart not working. When the user initiates the restart process, the machine simply shuts down. Some find that letting their machine run through the black screen issue eventually results in a successful installation. They claim their Mac is still downloading Big Sur installation files, which may be taking longer due to increased demand on Apple’s servers. Even if this is “just” a data center issue, a company as massive as Apple should be able to handle capacity spikes.

It’s important to note that the vast majority of macOS Big Sur users have had comparatively smooth upgrades. Apple’s newest operating system clearly has some defects; however, it’s completely unusable for some. Those who need a working computer should avoid Big Sur until Apple releases an update addressing the issue. 

How to Fix Big Sur Black Screen

There isn’t a lot of information about how to fix the Big Sur update black screen issue. As previously mentioned, some users leave their machine alone, and the update eventually installs. High demand on Apple’s servers may be slowing down installation. Some claim that their Mac is downloading files and isn’t “bricked”.

Others have waited for hours and tried a variety of system reset procedures. None of them work. After contacting Apple Support and going through a troubleshooting process, they must bring their machine in for service. These Macs are getting bricked so bad that users can’t fix them. If this happens to your Mac, you may be without it for days or even weeks, as Apple has a massive service backlog.

Apple Should Advise Users to Postpone macOS Big Sur Installation

Complete failure of thousands of Macs is a showstopper. At this point, Apple should advise users to postpone installation until it deploys a tested solution.

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The surprising reality is how sheepish Apple users are. I read accounts of people who have had hard drive failures and bricked Macs within the span of a few years. There are other computers on the market than the Macintosh. I recently switched back to Microsoft Windows after two Macs, only six to eighteen months old, broke to the point of complete failure. Both of these machines, treated with kid gloves, died with only a few hundred hours of use.

Apple’s Quality Decline

Let’s face it; Apple doesn’t make high-quality software or devices anymore. Although Consumer Reports and other resources give Apple products high marks, my own experience is quite different. I’m not the only one who sees Apple’s quality in decline. Apple may be gaming the system. After all, if no-name Chinese manufacturers can do this on Amazon, the world’s largest corporation is more than capable of such widescale manipulation.

Apple is in a unique situation. Unlike the Windows and Linux ecosystems, Apple makes both computers and operating systems. The hardware and software are supposed to mesh perfectly. They don’t.

For a long time, Apple only had a few products and operating systems. Their software was much simpler. Competition between Android, Windows, and the Apple ecosystems resulted in feature-cramming. Apple, with its closed ecosystem, hasn’t fared well with increased complexity.

Only Apple can solve its own problems, as the company hermetically seals itself off from the rest of the computing world. With Android and Windows, third-party companies have a stake in the operating system and hardware.

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Although there are many poor and mediocre options for Windows and Android, on the high end, I’ve found these devices to be superior to Apple’s offerings. My OnePlus 8 Pro is the best smartphone I’ve ever owned. Although I prefer macOS to Windows, my LG Gram is a far better laptop than any MacBook I’ve owned.

If macOS Big Sur ruined your Mac, it’s best to have it repaired and get as much life out of it as possible. In the future, you may want to look outside of Apple for technology solutions. It appears as though brand loyalty is starting to get the better of some Apple customers. Perhaps if Apple has to work harder to retain customers, it may provide the necessary incentive to produce higher quality products.


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