Every now and again, Apple releases software updates to all Mac users. It’s rare now to see updates for 10.3 and earlier, but they do pop up now and again. It is generally safe and recommended that you install each of the updates as they become available, and it’s generally a good idea to install all of the updates instead of selecting updates only for the software you use. For example, an update to Safari can affect function of the iTunes store.

Huh?

Part of the underpinnings of Mac OS X are frameworks, or shared resources. Without writing a novel, think of frameworks as sections of the operating system that any program can draw on. I mentioned that a Safari update can affect iTunes, because the HTML rendering engine, WebKit, is what renders web pages in Safari and the content you see in the iTunes Music Store.

There are a few reasons that software updates fail. Among them is a slow or otherwise finicky internet connection. If your computer is trying to download a large update, but stalls, the Apple server sending the update to you will think you were disconnected after a short while. This is often referred to as a “timeout error,” and is sometimes accompanied by an error message that says “Make sure you can connect to the Internet, then try again.”

I sometimes hear from customers who see this error message. The fix, 99% of the time, is to just reset both your AirPort Base Station (or similar by another manufacturer like Netgear or Linksys) and your cable, DSL, or satellite modem. Whenever resetting these devices, it’s best to leave them unplugged for about ten minutes to dissipate any residual electricity stored in capacitors.

After ten minutes, plug the devices back in. A few minutes later, your computer(s) will recognize your network and should be re-connected to the web. Your software updates should download just fine now.

If, for some reason, they do not download successfully, it may be due to extraordinary network traffic on Apple’s servers, like that occurring after the release of a major update like 10.5.7, released just the other day at over seven hundred megabytes for some users!

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