Solved: “Recovery Server Could Not Be Contacted on Mac” Issue

  • Vishal

    Written By Vishal linkdin

  • Rohit Arora

    Approved By Rohit Arora linkdin

  • Updated on

    Updated on September 6, 2021

  • Min Reading

    Min Reading 5 Min

Summary: As a Mac user, you may find yourself in a position where you need to reset and restore your Mac. You have to do it due to an issue or a simple desire for a fresh start with a new macOS installation. But during the restoration, you may encounter a variety of challenges, including errors, like “the recovery server could not be contacted”. In this blog, we will explain why this error pops up and how to resolve it.

Be it to recover from a fatal Mac error or simply to install the latest version of macOS from the App Store, the backup and recovery mechanism on macOS is something every Mac user has to deal with sooner or later.

Recovery Server Could not be contacted

If you have ever done it, you would know that when recovering a Mac from a previous iCloud backup or when using the Apple installer to install a version update, the Mac must be connected to the Apple server. Although the process is usually straightforward, sometimes due to several reasons, the “recovery server could not be connected” error can pop up on the screen in the middle of the process.

Quite evidently, this error indicates that your Mac was unable to establish a connection with the Apple server. Why does it happen, and more importantly, what can you do to overcome the problem and complete the process? Let’s find out.

Why does this error occur?

A few reasons why you might face “the recovery server could not be contacted” error on MacBook or iMac are:

  • Your Mac is no longer connected to the internet. For your Mac to effectively contact the Apple server, you’ll need a solid network connection.
  • Your Mac’s date and time are not correctly synced with the Apple recovery server.
  • The Apple server is currently overburdened due to a large number of users attempting to install the new update at the same time.

How to Fix the Error?

Here are a few solutions you can try to resolve the error.

Solution 1: Check Your Network Connection

If your Mac’s connection to the Apple recovery server got interrupted because of network issues, here’s how you can fix it:

  1. To begin, make sure your Mac is linked to an active internet connection.
  2. Re-plug the Ethernet cable if your Mac is connected to the internet via a wired connection.
  3. If your Mac is connected to the internet via Wi-Fi, you can check whether it is linked to a reliable network by going to the Wi-Fi option in the top right corner of your screen.
Check your network connection
Solution 2: Sync the Mac’s Date and Time with the Apple Recovery Server

If the date and time on your Mac aren’t synchronized with the Apple recovery server, you can use the below-mentioned steps to correct them:

  1. Close the error popup window. As soon as you do this, the macOS Utilities window will appear.
  2. Now go to the menu bar on top and select Utilities.
  3. In the dropdown menu, you will notice the Terminal option. Double-click the option.
  4. Type “ntpdate -u” command and click Enter.
  5. This may take some time. You can try reinstalling the macOS update after the process is finished. Hopefully, you’ll be able to resolve the issue.
Launch Terminal

You may also try executing the following command, if the “ntpdate -u” command fails to fix the recovery server issue:

  1. Open the Terminal application.
  2. Type Date and hit the Enter key. This will display your Mac’s current date.
  3. If the date and time are incorrect, use the command “date: mmmddhhssyy” to enter the correct time.
Enter Data time Terminal
  1. After that, exit Terminal and click reinstall macOS to reinstall your macOS version.

If the problem still persists, you can reinstall the macOS installer.

Solution 3: Download and Install Apple Installer’s Full Version 

Some users have reported that when they attempt to install a macOS update through the Apple update installer, they receive the error message “the recovery server could not be contacted.” However, the installer can operate without any problem after the full version of the installer is downloaded. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Start the Terminal application. 
  2. Type the below command to get the entire version of the macOS Catalina 10.15.3 installer:

                     —fetch-full-installer —full-installer-version 10.15.3 softwareupdate

If you’ve 10.15.4 version, change the above command accordingly.

  1. The installer will be saved in the Application folder when downloaded.
  2. Run the installer to install the macOS version you wish to without the error.
Solution 4: Reinstall macOS after Erasing Startup Disk

If the above solutions fail to bring desired results, then it’s recommended that you erase your Macintosh HD and reinstall macOS. To erase the hard disk, you can use the Recovery Mode on your Mac. After doing this, you will be able to resolve the issue by reinstalling macOS. 

To properly erase your hard disk and reinstall macOS, follow the procedure below:

  1. Backup your Mac with Time Machine and Restart.
  2. To access Recovery Mode, press and hold the Command + R keys simultaneously while the Mac is booting up.
  3. Select Disk Utility from the Recovery Mode and erase the Mac HD volume. This will erase all your data from the Mac. Be sure you’ve backed up the vital information.
Reinstall macOS
  1. Reinstall macOS after erasing your drive. This time “the recovery server could not be contacted” error will not appear.

Took Precautions and still Encountered Data Loss??

Erasing the Mac startup disk will instantly remove all the contained files and folders. Even after taking precautions, there are still events where the user might come across challenging data loss situations. If you have lost vital data due to the macOS upgrade and don’t have an updated Time Machine backup, Stellar Data Recovery Professional software can help you recover it. The tool is meant to recover images, documents, movies, emails, and other files from Mac after they have been accidentally deleted or lost due to a factory reset or macOS reinstallation. Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac can recover lost data in three simple steps. 

  1. Connect the storage media to Mac from which data is lost.
Select Files mac data recovery
  1. Launch the software and select the storage drive for recovery.
Select Location
  1. Preview and save the files to a desired location.
Preview Files - Mac Data Recovery

To scan and preview your needed files, download the Stellar Data Recovery Professional software from the below link.

Note: The trial version of the software allows you to preview the recoverable files. To save the files, software activation key is required. Here is the helpful comparison table for free and paid Mac data recovery variants.


The recovery server could not be contacted” issue has been reported by many users when reinstalling their macOS. If you have received this error or are receiving it currently, remember that there are solutions to fix this error, as mentioned in this post. In order to deal with any issues that may arise as a result of the macOS upgrade, you should take a backup of your data before proceeding with any of the processes. If your data is lost, we recommend using Stellar Data Recovery Professional to retrieve the lost data.

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