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Old Nov 19, 2012, 07:06 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Small office - MacMini Server


We are thinking of replacing our current setup with MacMini Server. We're a small creative agency with 8-10 users, mostly Macs but there is a 1 or 2 PC's for the admin team.

Our current setup is below:

2x2Tb Buffalo Nas drives connected to the switch
1x Dell Server with Windows Server 2003 installed
2x4Tb USB3 backup drives

The server is probably 10-15 years old (second hand) and is causing endless headaches with backing up the NAS drives. All of our work is saved on the NAS drives and the server is used primarily for DNS and managing the backup process to the USB drives.

The backup software (Backup assist) is constantly crashing half way through a backup just as it does when connecting the drive directly to the NAS and using the Buffalo software to do the same thing. Its got to the point where we need to do something about it as its started to cause us endless problems with DNS management too.

To get this fixed has then incurred constant external costs to the business which we are looking to avoid in these difficult economic times.

So we arrived at replacing it with a Mac Mini Server as knowledge wise we think we could probably fix any issue that comes up between me and another guy.

I have a few questions.

1. Does the Mac Mini Server have a Time machine function like any other mac?
2. Would we be able to attach the USB3 drive and use it as a destination to backup the Nas Drives and also the internal drives? (I understand the first backup (approx 2TB of data) would take a few days to transfer over the network but once done it would be much quicker and easier for us to manage)
3. Does it give us the ability to manage user accounts on the internal storage? Sort of like a private folder for each user?
4. What's it like managing DNS?

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Old Nov 20, 2012, 11:13 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Reading round a little bit more it appears it isn't possible to backup a Nas through Time Machine to an external drive.

There is some software called ChronoSync that seems to do the required job - Anyone familiar with how this works?

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Old Nov 20, 2012, 12:46 PM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Jersey
Not completely clear about this setup...

but maybe look into Carbon Copy Cloner, and it will give you some ideas?

In terms of DNS management, what sort of ISP do you use? I would also like to know how Mac OS Server handles DNS.
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 12:49 PM   #4
David Ormesher
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Join Date: Jun 2009
I was/am also considering the MacMini for my smallish network. I have yet to buy a new one, but when I was on the fence my Apple Business rep suggested to take the current Mac Mini that I had (older, '09 maybe '08) and just download the server software for it and see if it will do what I want. I did, and now I'm using it for FTP and running my VPN. I'm not using it to handle DNS. It does offer a familiar Time Machine functionality, which I'm planning on setting up to backup our 5 laptops that come and go from the office. I'm not sure about NAS, as I haven't tried to cross that bridge nor plan on it.

I know this doesn't answer all your questions, but they've made it accessible enough to where you can get in there to see if it's right for you without going all-in on a full investment on a new MacMini. They have (almost) over-simplified it to where any Mac can be a server with just a $49 app download and any computer can operate as a ML Server.
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