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Standard User swirus
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 24-Jun-11 11:18:27
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Mac OS Server


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I need a new backup, media and office server. Up until just now I have been considering a dedicated Synology NAS, but given I am not paying, a Mac Mini Server is a possibility. I have always desired a Mac Mini but when it came down to it, they have always been just a bit too expensive to devote post-tax, VAT-liable cash to.

£750 is a helluva lot to pay for a home office fileserver - twice the cost of the Synology system, especially considering it will probably need additional external storage.

I would need to justify the investment in terms of the additional business benefits that would accrue from introducing MacOS to our business, and the benefits that the Mac Mini would provide over the £350 alternative.

My questions to the assembled Mac Gurus are:

1. If I buy this system with a server OS, could it equally be used for general purpose computing (ie like a MacOS client) ?
2. Have you any idea what benefits, beyond basic file-serving and web-hosting the server could bring to my network which would make a convincing argument for doubling the expenditure? All the machines on our network are Vista-era PCs.

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Swirus...
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Standard User AEP
(knowledge is power) Fri 24-Jun-11 11:24:31
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
Just one correction. I believe that a Mac Mini server costs £944 not £750. I'd agree that that is a lot to pay for 1TB of non-protected storage if that is your prime requirement.
Standard User swirus
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 24-Jun-11 11:46:31
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: AEP] [link to this post]
 
So it does - I was looking at the Ex-VAT cost. Which, I guess, will be the ultimate cost to the business.

I know that it is extremely expensive for the basic functions I require. I am also aware that I could buy three whole Linux machines for the same money, Indeed, I have enough competent last-gen components to build one for next to nothing. But I don't need any noisy, power-inefficient boxes in my house. The size and elegance of the Mac Mini is part of the appeal. It is as functional as a dedicated server, with ergonomic characteristics that are better even than an appliance.

I also think it would be a nice thing to have in the business from the POV of expanding our skills and capacity and getting some exposure to MacOS, and I'm keen to learn what else I could use it for, which is why I posted.

If I can't make it fly in terms of business benefit, I'm not even going to suggest it to my boss. However, because I have pretty much zero IT cost between my four-yearly desktop upgrade I am cheap to keep.

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Swirus...
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Standard User AEP
(knowledge is power) Fri 24-Jun-11 12:06:36
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
I'd agree that you could use this to expand skills into the OS X world, and if this is a major requirement then it might be a good choice (although personally I would go for a standard Mac Mini with a separate storage solution)..

But I would disagree that it is as functional as a dedicated server, especially if your main requirement is a storage server. My main concern would be the lack of redundancy for data protection. The best you can do is to mirror the two drives, which is not the most effective way to protect data. That gives you just 500GB of storage. And those drives don't appear to be easily upgradeable.

In a larger business I would require a server to have redundant power supplies, and possibly redundant network cards; but from your second post it looks like this is just something for you to use at home. But do you really need server functionality at home, other than for storage? I do, which is why I run a cheap-as-chips PC with FreeBSD on it. Upgrading hardware and software is a cinch and it is as near as damnit silent.

If your main requirement is storage, for a similar cost to the Mac Mini you could get a good NAS system with RAID-5 hot-pluggable disks giving 3TB storage. So I guess it depends upon what your primary need is.
Standard User swirus
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 24-Jun-11 12:50:21
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: AEP] [link to this post]
 
You're right, for storage 500GB is not much nowadays; all my work and emails for a decade is about 100GB, while all my photos and music is about 150. which doesn't leave a whole heap of headroom when you consider the OS, but it is easy to add additional storage to the Mac. Which on the other hand makes the system even more uncompetitive.

I do do some things which makes it handy to have a nearby server, including PHP and MySQL development. But actually the Synology appliance I am considering would do that, because it's basically a low-power Linux box.

For me RAID 1 is fine. To be honest JBOD is probably OK since this isn't the only place the data exists (it's already on my laptop and the desktop itself). I don't need the system to be RAID 5 hot-pluggable because it's only serving my needs (and potentially my Boss, too, if he wants to squirt data across my awful ADSL connection. When your device starts to get big enough to accommodate 3 hard disks it's starting to become less invisible than I'd like smile

It would make a great deal of sense to get a standalone machine for Mac experience, but it would only be a laptop and I can't imagine ever booting it to MacOS because all my (paid for) software is in Windows.

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Swirus...
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Standard User jhurrell
(experienced) Fri 24-Jun-11 13:12:36
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
Just to add into the mix:

I use a QNAP TS-239Pro II+ device (very similar to the Synology you're looking at) in an office environment with 10 users... Low power, low noise and has been in place for six months without issue (it's on a UPS to protect the raid).

I think we paid around £400 for the enclosure and have 2x1TB SATA drives (£60 each) in it in RAID1, backed up to an external USB drive. We only use the NAS features of it, but it does a miriad of other things besides.

Works like a charm.
Standard User jchamier
(knowledge is power) Fri 24-Jun-11 23:15:01
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by swirus:
I need a new backup, media and office server. Up until just now I have been considering a dedicated Synology NAS


If its any help, I have a Synology DS209+ at home (2 bay) and we have several rack mount RackStation RS409 at work (4 bay). They are great units, take the cheap SATA drives and just work.

James - be* pro - on THFB - sync about 17.2mbps - BQM
Standard User Going_Digital
(knowledge is power) Sat 25-Jun-11 14:04:10
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
Now is a bad time to buy a mini server, they are due to be updated and when Lion comes out the server option will be a lot cheaper than it is now. I would strongly suggest waiting for the launch of Lion before buying a mini server.

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Standard User swirus
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Tue 28-Jun-11 09:01:51
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for everybody who contributed. I am leaning strongly towards the appliance option; nobody here really mentioned any tangible benefits of the Mac Mini setup over that for my purposes so I can't really in conscience argue for an Apple system myself given the cost. Once again the Mac Mini is my 'one that got away'!

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Swirus...
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Standard User bosie
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Wed 29-Jun-11 09:44:58
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Re: Mac OS Server


[re: swirus] [link to this post]
 
I don't know if this is important to you but OSX Server is incredibly simple to setup, use and maintain with a well thought out UI typical of the Mac OS. Lion Server is set to make these features even simpler with the addition of Server app and Profile Manager to remotely manage Lion and iOS clients. The server OS looks and functions as a regular Mac OS in addition to performing server tasks so you can install and use regular Mac software without worrying about compatibility. There is one thing you should watch out for if your clients are mostly windows: Samba is rumoured to have been dropped for something new in Lion.

link

I would definitely wait for Lion and the next Mac Mini refresh. Two internal 500GB hard drives is not a lot of space especially if you're planning on using the server as a Time Machine (backup) for clients.

Peak at Lion Server
http://www.apple.com/macosx/server/

bosie

Edited by bosie (Wed 29-Jun-11 09:47:02)

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