Where it all started
So you say you’re getting download errors on HD movies in iTunes? You’ve contacted Apple support, and they haven’t been able to help? Your HD movie sits there in your download queue, just sitting and sitting, and when you try to download it, it times out after slooooowly downloading just a few megabytes? Learn from me, grasshopper, and you will save yourself some time!
All I wanted was to buy and download a movie for Maggie.
See: my daughter asked if she could buy a movie, specifically Picture This. I don’t have any particular interest in this movie, but she wanted it, and she was willing to pay for it out of her allowance money, so I agreed. She purchased the High Def version, but once the Standard Def version was downloaded, she lost interest in waiting, and happily started watching.
What happens now is a quirk of iTunes; the HD version stayed in my download queue. And it would never download. I didn’t need it, but there it sat, in my queue. In the way. Annoying the living crap out of me. So hell, I figured we had an enormously wide pipe at work; I’d download from there.
Time out error.
Maybe it’s the firewall software.
Time out error.
Maybe I should reinstall iTunes.
Time out error.
I contacted Apple support. They suggested I check my ISP (it’s a 200 Mbps upload/25 Mbps download work monster–seems unlikely); they suggested I update to the latest version of iTunes (um . . .); they suggested I check my firewall software (um . . . part II). In other words, they were pretty much as useless as Apple software support tends to be. (Why is Apple hardware support so good, but software support so lame? You can get a hardware support person to call you at a pre-arranged time. There is no software support phone line.)
They refunded the money while apologizing, and sending me some more “Here’s some software stuff you might try” boilerplate. Not too helpful, but at least they refunded the money–those HD movies are expensive on iTunes.
In desperation, I checked the discussion boards. My reluctance is not that the information in the discussion boards is bad; it’s that there’s too damn much of it, and so it’s darn near impossible to find what you need.
(Are you still with me? Because this turns out to not be Apple’s fault; it’s Internet Explorer’s fault.)
Verily, IE, the fault lies with thee!
I got lucky, and found a clue. Internet Explorer versions lower than 8.0 have a limit on the size of files that can be downloaded through HTTP. This poster suggested that you either follow the instructions to increase the default download file size limit, or just update to the latest version of IE. Now, I hardly ever use Internet Explorer, so I had no idea what version I was running. When I opened it up and checked, it was version 6. (Hey, it’s a work laptop; cut me some slack.) I also didn’t know if iTunes used HTTP in any way to facilitate downloads, but the hints in the discussion group led me to believe that it did. And besides, nothing else was working, so I might as well give it a try.
Well, at least I didn’t get the blue screen of death.
So now the fun really begins. Unfortunately, since I didn’t have the proper ActiveX software installed, instead of being able to click the big “Download now!” button, I had to follow a separate link on the page. Once there, and once I finished telling it what version of Windows I had, I was able to download the new IE installation software.
I’ll spare you the details, but the cycle at this point goes like this:
- Install IE
- Reboot system
- Install “windows update” –this will give you some recommendations with regard to updating other Windows software on your system
- Perform an “express check” to find if any software is missing (in my case, there were 14 other packages that needed installing
- Install them; it might take a while, depending on what you were missing
- Reboot again
Finally, I relaunched iTunes. I start the download. It’s working–yay!
But let’s rewind. Remember where we started? Just downloading a movie on iTunes. And where did we end up? Upgrading Microsoft packages. Not intuitive, definitely. But learn from my struggles in case you get a timeout error while downloading large iTunes files (or any large files)–update IE!
And may the force be with you.