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Symptom: work with multiple raster images in an AI document. Attempt to save the file in .ai format (or other vector formats?). AI crashes near instantaneously. The symptom is consistently repeatable.
Workaround: uncheck "Create PDF Compatible File" on save, which works. This would be great, unless you need this feature. This more than doubled my file size. This workaround is limited two-fold.
I found one other thread about this but it had been locked after only a handful of posts. Adobe?
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What did the other thread advise? And did you try that?
There probably is not THE ONE answer to this.
Exactly where doyou save files?
How large are they?
What about file names? How long are they? Any Non-ASCII characters in the file names or the folder names?
Where are the images located?
Did you already turn off "Save in background" in the preferences and does that help?
If you want to talk directly to "Adobe", you need to either contact Customer Care https://helpx.adobe.com/contact.html
or post to http://illustrator.uservoice.com
This forum is 95% not even staff.
Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully reply with your troubleshooting steps.
The primary (if not only?) suggestion in the other thread was what I referenced previously (PDF compatibility).
Save Location: local Solid State Drive (Macbook Pro) AND Synology NAS diskstation (symptom appears in either location).
File Size: Original (worked prior to Big Sur): 54MB; without PDF compatibility, 120MB
File Name: Virtually the same file name in both cases (no special characters)
Image location: Images are embedded in the .AI file
Save in background was on (thank goodness!).
Thank you for advising me about the support options, Monika! It appeared that the other thread had been closed prematurely. I presumed that was at Adobe's discretion.
It would be great if this issue got enough attention in this forum for Adobe to issue a bug fix for it!
Can you try and turn off "Save in background". It's known to cause issues for some.
Also: saving to remote locations (such as a NAS) can as well.
There is a setting for optimizing save on network. You can try with and without that as well.
Thanks for the suggestions, Monika. I'm going to see if I can disable PDF compatibility for the moment in hopes this "bug" gets fixed--or should it be called an incompatibility? Nothing in my environment has changed recently except the Mac OS 10.x to Mac OS 11 upgrade. I work with files like these in the manner I described daily, and this is a new problem.
I appreciate your work in the community!
Thank you for your kind words.
There have been a few issues reported with Mac OS Big Sur - but it was mostly Illustrator not launching at all. Yours is different because you first updated Illustrator and then the system and also different issues.
Is there text in your file?
Do you also use a font manager such as Suitcase?
In that case you could check if it is still compatible and if all your fonts are still fine. When saving a PDF fonts get embedded. If the handling of fonts on your computer is somewhat disturbed, then issues might happen.
Yes, text in my file. Happens the same with no text (100% outline) as well.
No font manager.
Also, I've given AI full disk access. And this does not happen when saving to the exact same spot/file name when saving without PDF compatibility. I don't know if some incompatible tmp file is created during the save of a PDF compatible file?
This appears to be the meat and potatoes of the error I'm receiving:
Crashed Thread: 0 Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread
Exception Type: EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV)
Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x00007ffeef3fffc8
Exception Note: EXC_CORPSE_NOTIFY
Termination Signal: Segmentation fault: 11
Termination Reason: Namespace SIGNAL, Code 0xb
Terminating Process: exc handler 
Have you also tried to turn off "Save in background" in the Illustrator Preferences?
Please pardon my slow reply. I've not disabled save-in-background because that feature is the only thing saving my bacon when this issue presents itself. Thank goodness for Save-in-background! However, I do notice that it seems to work normally--for example, it'll tell me if a file I'm working on is so large that Save-in-background has been disabled.
So the files are very large?
Is the issue now solved?
Please do at least try if Save in background changes something. It's important to rule it out.
And then: Do you have a printer? Illustrator acts weird when there is no printer attached, set up as the default printer and tutned on.
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Sorry about the trouble this issue has caused. We have recently released an update for Illustrator 2021 (v 25.1) which contains some stability fixes. If you are not already on v25.1, then we recommend you to update to latest version and let us know how it goes.
If that doesn't help, please try the suggestions shared on this page ( https://community.adobe.com/t5/illustrator/how-to-fix-a-crash-and-recover-documents-in-illustrator/t...) and let us know how it goes.