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I'm trying to install macOS Big Sur on a 2016 15" MacBook Pro using Internet Recovery (Cmd-Opt-R during boot), but I keep getting an -5101F error, with a link to apple.com/support.

I've tried an Ethernet connection and using Internet Sharing to create a WiFi hotspot from another Mac, but that doesn't change anything.

In addition, installing the much older macOS Sierra using Cmd-R also fails with the error The installation information on the recovery server is damaged.

What can I do?

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  • Do you need to use internet recovery? If not make a USB installer and install Big Sur with that: discussions.apple.com/thread/252057791
    – X_841
    Nov 24, 2020 at 9:13
  • @X_841 I think that might be my next step if I can't get this to work, but it's a little difficult since I don't have a USB drive on hand, and even if I had, I would also need a USB-C to USB-A adapter to actually make it work on the MacBook. Nov 24, 2020 at 9:28
  • SD card works fine too if you have one
    – X_841
    Nov 24, 2020 at 9:53
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    You’re the third person to report this I’ve come across in a day. twitter.com/USBCGuy/status/1331078765573595143 Curious what Apple support recommends .... (I wonder if a bad seed got out and the CDN needs time to flush or be updated) your steps look solid and it’s an edge case for your network to be suspect. I’ll try a proper answer with some general guidance.
    – bmike
    Nov 24, 2020 at 12:31

1 Answer 1

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In the past, a similar range of error codes has been network related errors, so if your firewall/router/DNS is filtering Apple network IP (perhaps relating to OCSP shenanigans or just running something like PiHole) you might retry your installation from a very open network. Another thing to try would be a different network connector and reboot your home router / modem network setup to be sure it’s in a clean state.

Mostly, that error is designed to get you to Customer Support however, so starting that chat might be worthwhile if you don’t feel like troubleshooting this without vendor notes on what that error code signifies.

It’s also seldom popular to just wait a day, since you likely had a reason to recover your mac, but many problems do sort themselves out when it is server side and your process is correct. Without experiments, though, it’s hard to know which situation you face.

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    Thanks. I too suspect Apple might've screwed up their Internet Recovery feature temporarily. Nov 24, 2020 at 16:56

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