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jbyun04
Aug 9, 2011, 06:10 PM
Looking into getting a G4 (White/1GHZ/1.25GB RAM) to use as a file server that would be hooked up to my Airport Extreme but I'm not sure how this all works exactly.

http://www.applematters.com/assets/images/uploads/old/products/cache/PowerMac_G4_MDD_300x363.jpg

Things I'm looking at:

1. Power consumption - I'm not planning on turning this off. I've read on here that this is much less of a power suck than the G5 but if I left it on, will I see significant increase in electricity bills? And how noisy is this?

2. Reliability - Given the age of these machines, how reliable are they?

3. PCI SATA - Read on here that if one was to do this, they should buy a PCI SATA card and load up the RAM. Can I just buy any PCI SATA card off eBay or is there a specific one I need?

4. Speed - I'm assuming I can just plug this in to my Airport via Ethernet or USB? Not sure which would be faster.

5. Configuration - Not sure what I'm supposed to do in terms of OS. Is there anything in particular that I have to do so that it will just act as a network file server? Will there be any problems with this thing communicating to Lion and Snow Leopard Macs?

I don't plan on having a dedicated monitor for it, only for initial setup or the odd time I should need to power it back up or change something.

If someone could give me tips as to how to make this the best server it can be and provide some insight to my questions that would be awesome!

Also the machine I'm looking at is $60, not sure if that's a good deal or not.



AdrianK
Aug 9, 2011, 06:32 PM
You can (http://www.apple.com/airportextreme/features/harddrivesharing.html) plug a USB hard drive in an AirPort Extreme already, I'm pretty sure an AE can't be connected to a mac anyway.

VanneDC
Aug 9, 2011, 08:14 PM
If your looking at plugging a USB drive into the pmg4 may THE Gods help you without a usb2.0 card as that USB 1.0 is sooooo slow..

uller6
Aug 9, 2011, 08:22 PM
Looking into getting a G4 (White/1GHZ/1.25GB RAM) to use as a file server that would be hooked up to my Airport Extreme but I'm not sure how this all works exactly.

Image (http://www.applematters.com/assets/images/uploads/old/products/cache/PowerMac_G4_MDD_300x363.jpg)


I've got a powermac g4 MDD dual 1.25 that I use for this exact purpose.


Things I'm looking at:

1. Power consumption - I'm not planning on turning this off. I've read on here that this is much less of a power suck than the G5 but if I left it on, will I see significant increase in electricity bills? And how noisy is this?

Mine is pretty noisy; I keep it in the closet. I calculate that mine costs about $40/year in electricity to run. It usually pulls around 70 watts.

2. Reliability - Given the age of these machines, how reliable are they?

Mine is 9 years old, and it's a beast. I've been through about 5 hard drives in this thing, but the rest of it keeps soldiering on.

3. PCI SATA - Read on here that if one was to do this, they should buy a PCI SATA card and load up the RAM. Can I just buy any PCI SATA card off eBay or is there a specific one I need?

It depends if you want to boot from the pci sata hdd or not. If you do, stick with the sonnet tempo 2-slot pci card. If you want to boot from IDE and just use the sata drives as storage, than get the 4 channel seritek card (doesn't support booting). They're both about $80.

4. Speed - I'm assuming I can just plug this in to my Airport via Ethernet or USB? Not sure which would be faster.

This computer only has USB 1.1, so plug it in with an Ethernet cable. I don't think USB connection even works with the airport extreme, but I've never tried it.

5. Configuration - Not sure what I'm supposed to do in terms of OS. Is there anything in particular that I have to do so that it will just act as a network file server? Will there be any problems with this thing communicating to Lion and Snow Leopard Macs?

I run 10.5 on mine. I turned file sharing and remote desktop on in system preferences. I have no problems connecting to it using 10.4, 10.5, 10.6, or 10.7 machines.

I don't plan on having a dedicated monitor for it, only for initial setup or the odd time I should need to power it back up or change something.

That's exactly what I do. I use screen sharing to remote desktop in and administer it, but mostly I just connect through the finder sidebar. This thing is plenty fast enough to stream HD movies and music around the house.

If someone could give me tips as to how to make this the best server it can be and provide some insight to my questions that would be awesome!

Also the machine I'm looking at is $60, not sure if that's a good deal or not.


That is a good deal, but if I were you I would max out the ram. You should be able to bump it up to 2 gb (thats the max) for dirt cheap on eBay. Don't forget to add another $80 or so for that pci sata card.

jbyun04
Aug 9, 2011, 11:48 PM
That is a good deal, but if I were you I would max out the ram. You should be able to bump it up to 2 gb (thats the max) for dirt cheap on eBay. Don't forget to add another $80 or so for that pci sata card.

$80.. maybe I should just get a Drobo 4 Bay instead..

AdrianK
Aug 10, 2011, 03:55 AM
$80.. maybe I should just get a Drobo 4 Bay instead..

Since you can actually connect a Drobo to an Airport Extreme, that would probably work better.

EDIT: At the time I was only thinking of the Airport Extremes abilities to share files, it will only do that for mass storage devices. The filesharing services that OS X provides are entirely separate and did not cross my mind at the time: meh.

jbyun04
Aug 10, 2011, 11:59 AM
Since you can actually connect a Drobo to an Airport Extreme, that would probably work better.

if i couldn't connect a PMG4 to an Air Extreme how would I actually go about getting it to do what I want it to do? I'm really clueless :confused:

ViviUO
Aug 10, 2011, 12:02 PM
if i couldn't connect a PMG4 to an Air Extreme how would I actually go about getting it to do what I want it to do? I'm really clueless :confused:

Have I missed something?

My dual 1.25 MDD is connected to my Airport Extreme just fine wirelessly. It works via ethernet as well.

It also has no problem accessing the HDD attached to the router.

AdrianK
Aug 10, 2011, 12:13 PM
if i couldn't connect a PMG4 to an Air Extreme how would I actually go about getting it to do what I want it to do? I'm really clueless :confused:
The Airport Extreme is the file server, you just connect a USB mass storage device (hard drive, usb stick) and it will share it. You don't need a computer connected to it. Air Port extreme would let you share files from a computer though, but it's unnecessary (I got that wrong earlier, my apologies).

If you were using a router without filesharing capabilities then you would need a computer to share the files via the router.


Have I missed something?

My dual 1.25 MDD is connected to my Airport Extreme just fine wirelessly. It works via ethernet as well.

It also has no problem accessing the HDD attached to the router.
Of course the MDD will work fine with AE, as well as any other computer.

I misspoke earlier when I said you couldn't share files from a Mac connected to an AE. Via the AE you can't, but OS X does have that capability.

ViviUO
Aug 10, 2011, 03:25 PM
Of course the MDD will work fine with AE, as well as any other computer.

I misspoke earlier when I said you couldn't share files from a Mac connected to an AE. Via the AE you can't, but OS X does have that capability.

Oh, okay! I guess I don't have magical networking powers then. :cool:

cocacolakid
Aug 10, 2011, 04:52 PM
The Airport Extreme is the file server, you just connect a USB mass storage device (hard drive, usb stick) and it will share it.

Exactly, just get a large external HD and you're done. 2TB drives are running $100 or less if you look around, and I've seen 3TB drives recently for $130.

zen.state
Aug 11, 2011, 12:27 PM
An Airport Extreme can't act as a second computer in a pinch.

To answer the OP questions:

1. Even the most power hungry of the G4's (MDD) will only use about $5-8 per month in hydro if on 24/7.

2. The MDD are the least reliable of the G4 towers but still far more reliable than anything with a G5 chip. You can get a Sawtooth (AKA AGP Graphics model) for about $50 on ebay or craigslist. Even the slowest G4 chip out there is all the power you need to run a file server.

3. Yes. As I mention above I have a SATA PCI card in my G4 and it cost me $70. Works 100% seamless. Buy FirmTek and choose the one that suits you best.

4. With a Gigabit ethernet connection to a file server you can acheive 50MB/sec and higher transfer speeds between the 2 systems. You can just connect the 2 Macs directly.

5. Use 10.5 (or 10.4 if you have to) for the best experience. Both those will communicate perfectly with Snow Leopard or Lion. I know this because I do it myself every day.

Monitor. You don't ever need to connect one other than for the OS install. After that you can go 100% headless. The built in VNC app in 10.5+ called "Screen Sharing" lets you easily control a headless Mac running 10.4+.

A file server is the one truly legitimate role any G4 tower can still play.

goMac
Aug 12, 2011, 06:31 PM
I wouldn't worry about the power on that thing as much as the noise (I have a DP 1.25 under my desk... I keep it off most of the time for the noise.)

JHUFrank
Aug 13, 2011, 05:29 AM
Dual proc late model G4 powermacs are pretty common and cheap. Get USB and SATA cards for the thing and they work very nicely as servers.

jbyun04
Aug 13, 2011, 04:35 PM
An Airport Extreme can't act as a second computer in a pinch.

To answer the OP questions:

1. Even the most power hungry of the G4's (MDD) will only use about $5-8 per month in hydro if on 24/7.

2. The MDD are the least reliable of the G4 towers but still far more reliable than anything with a G5 chip. You can get a Sawtooth (AKA AGP Graphics model) for about $50 on ebay or craigslist. Even the slowest G4 chip out there is all the power you need to run a file server.

3. Yes. As I mention above I have a SATA PCI card in my G4 and it cost me $70. Works 100% seamless. Buy FirmTek and choose the one that suits you best.

4. With a Gigabit ethernet connection to a file server you can acheive 50MB/sec and higher transfer speeds between the 2 systems. You can just connect the 2 Macs directly.

5. Use 10.5 (or 10.4 if you have to) for the best experience. Both those will communicate perfectly with Snow Leopard or Lion. I know this because I do it myself every day.

Monitor. You don't ever need to connect one other than for the OS install. After that you can go 100% headless. The built in VNC app in 10.5+ called "Screen Sharing" lets you easily control a headless Mac running 10.4+.

A file server is the one truly legitimate role any G4 tower can still play.

All I'm looking for is to plug a drive-loaded headless G4 tower into the Airport Extreme and use it as a file server but got the impression that it was better to buy a Drobo "because I could actually connect that to my Airport Extreme". I'm hearing otherwise now?

I can get a Sawtooth G4 for $20 off craigslist..

zen.state
Aug 13, 2011, 05:13 PM
All I'm looking for is to plug a drive-loaded headless G4 tower into the Airport Extreme and use it as a file server but got the impression that it was better to buy a Drobo "because I could actually connect that to my Airport Extreme". I'm hearing otherwise now?

I can get a Sawtooth G4 for $20 off craigslist..

Anyone who tells you that you cannot connect a G4 tower to an Airport Extreme is totally misinformed.

I can tell you 100% for certain that you can connect a G4 tower to one. It's a router for goodness sake. A Drobo will cost (they start at about 400 and have no drives) a heck of a lot more than a G4 tower and SATA card and on top of that it isn't a computer.

This is the trouble with advice on forums. People often say what they think rather than what they know.

Even though I don't know you at all I don't want to see you spending more than you need to over ignorant advice. I have setup many G4 file servers over the years for myself and clients. Just msg me directly if you want so you can avoid being swayed by misinformation.

AdrianK
Aug 13, 2011, 06:29 PM
All I'm looking for is to plug a drive-loaded headless G4 tower into the Airport Extreme and use it as a file server but got the impression that it was better to buy a Drobo "because I could actually connect that to my Airport Extreme". I'm hearing otherwise now?

I can get a Sawtooth G4 for $20 off craigslist..

I did correct myself on that. At the time I was thinking of using the the AE's filesharing abilities, rather than what OS X can provide which is an entirely different entity. Apparently I wasn't in the best frame on mind at the time :rolleyes:

Literally any machine on any OS will suffice.

Like I said, if you have a single USB mass storage device then connecting a computer is redundant. The Drobo and DroboPro are USB 2.0 devices and can be connected directly to the AirPort Extreme for filesharing. This is probably the most ideal route, but since the powermac is cheaper than a drobo it's what I'd go for.

Paulywauly
Aug 13, 2011, 06:51 PM
It sounds like your needs are quite basic and you just want to share some files over your network right? If thats the case why overcomplicate matters by buying an old G4 server rather than just a USB hard drive and use the functionality of the Airport Extreme? While the G4s are still good little servers it just sounds like overkill to me for your needs.

The G4 server is most likely going to need upgrading (with cards and hard drives) You may need to source and OS and then install it, set up user accounts, set up file sharing permissions and file shares etc.

On the other hand with a USB external drive you basically plug it into the Airport, go into the Airport Utiltiy and enable file sharing.

jbyun04
Aug 14, 2011, 12:26 AM
Anyone who tells you that you cannot connect a G4 tower to an Airport Extreme is totally misinformed.

I can tell you 100% for certain that you can connect a G4 tower to one. It's a router for goodness sake. A Drobo will cost (they start at about 400 and have no drives) a heck of a lot more than a G4 tower and SATA card and on top of that it isn't a computer.

This is the trouble with advice on forums. People often say what they think rather than what they know.

Even though I don't know you at all I don't want to see you spending more than you need to over ignorant advice. I have setup many G4 file servers over the years for myself and clients. Just msg me directly if you want so you can avoid being swayed by misinformation.

Awesome, thanks for reaching out :)

It sounds like your needs are quite basic and you just want to share some files over your network right? If thats the case why overcomplicate matters by buying an old G4 server rather than just a USB hard drive and use the functionality of the Airport Extreme? While the G4s are still good little servers it just sounds like overkill to me for your needs.

The G4 server is most likely going to need upgrading (with cards and hard drives) You may need to source and OS and then install it, set up user accounts, set up file sharing permissions and file shares etc.

On the other hand with a USB external drive you basically plug it into the Airport, go into the Airport Utiltiy and enable file sharing.

I don't mind the upgrading especially if I can get a G4 for $20..
Part of the reason is I'd like multiple hard drives and going Drobo isn't as cost effective.

I already have two external drives but that's for my computer only (one being a Time Machine drive), the other being just a drag+drop backup for my work files.

I've got 4 computers in my house and I'd like everybody to have a little bit of their own space especially since it seems like upgrades will be happening soon.

One thing I forgot to ask was, will this G4 serve without issues to Windows 7/Vista as well? And how many drives, after I buy the PCI SATA card, will I be able to fit in the G4?

AdrianK
Aug 14, 2011, 02:55 AM
One thing I forgot to ask was, will this G4 serve without issues to Windows 7/Vista as well?

Yes. :)

zen.state
Aug 14, 2011, 06:52 AM
The G4 will also allow you to run any apps that need to run 24/7. A bit torrent app is a perfect example of a 24/7 app. No drive/drobo can do that.

Since you main Mac is a MBP I assume you don't leave it on 24/7 right? The G4 gives you that ability and saves wear on your laptop.

Also.. yes Macs will network with winblows machines perfectly. Macs have supported Samba (the windows file sharing protocol) since about 2003.