Is the Mac Mini Server for me?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by SdPunk, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #1
    OK, another Mac Mini Server question. Here is what I need it for.... it has to be my main desktop at home for both business and personal use. This computer will be home based.

    The business use is:

    1. Maintain my company's web and blog. I use a hosting service as I am not IT literate, so in essence, I use Cpanel. Just the reqular text, photos uploading, etc. I am looking at running dual monitors. Either 24" or 27". I am used to dualies just for productivity. I don't do photography or graphics, I deal mainly with lots of documentation.

    2. We are launching a Forum and I will need to monitor it 24/7. So in essence, this computer will be running regularly. I would like to have the ability to make a backup of the forum and my web page on a regular basis in case something happens with my hosting service.

    3. If this is possible, I would like to be able to access my Mini Server while I am out and about. In case I need a file or what have you. I know there are Apps which allow you to do this, but is there a way I can access my own Server without having to depend on something outside of my network? I usually have either my iPhone, iPad, or Macbook with me when I am out of the house, so I would like to be able to access it with any of these devices.

    4. Backup upon backup. I just don't want to lose any information.

    Personal use:

    1. The usual web surfing, iTunes, iLife, etc. The only game I play is the first Starcraft with the Brood War Expansion set.

    2. To let the better half have access to it so she can play her games, Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. She just surfs the web, etc. Maybe for her to use iWork every once and a while, but that is about it. She has her Macbook for other stuff as well. She would use it when I am not home.

    3. Last but not least, portability. We are looking to move to Europe in 2011, and I need to take my business with me. So, I figure I can stick this in a suitcase and when we get over there, I am ready to roll and have very little down time.

    I have been searching this forum and have gotten input on what I am looking to do, but before I spend the money, I want input on if this will do what I want. Thank you for taking the time out to read this and I appreciate everyone's advice.:)
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #2
    Yes, it will do what you want. Really, any computer is capable of all of that. If you want something that runs 24/7, the mini is probably a good choice, since it consumes so little power, and comes with a server OS for the heavier stuff.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #3
    Thank you for answering my post. I was really concerned with being able to have the remote access to it while out of the house. I was looking at that Logmein App and it still goes through another network. I am concerned about the integrity of my information. Again, thank you.:D
     
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #4
    The remote access isn't a problem. May take a bit of guess-and-test to set up, but all you really need to do is set up a VNC server (or the OSX built-in one) on your home machine, and open the appropriate port on your router and should be all good.

    If you're concerned with data integrity, you may want to set up a VPN that's accessible to the outside instead of letting a remote desktop scheme through your router.
     
  5. macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #5
    No, it is not.

    You do not mix production and personal use machines.

    If your wife does something and brings the Mac down, the things you are serving are now offline. A server is meant to serve, not to use as your everyday machine.

    Of course, this assumes you are really relying on it to serve 24/7. If you don't care that it is brought down due to using it as a personal machine, then go for it.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #6
    Thank you again. I am going to look into doing that VPN. I am using an Airport Extreme, so I am confident on security.


    We aren't going to depend on this Mini as an only machine in the house. As she has her macbook and I have mine. I just want to have the ability to let her use it to play games and such. This would in reality be maybe 25% of the time the machine is on. But I can understand the chance of a problem.

    I am not going to host my sites or forum with it, so I am not concerned with that, but I do see your point in it going down and not being able to access it when need be. If I create her own user account on it, while she is on it, would this not only minimize any issues, but would I still be able to access my account on it as well? Thank you for your help with this.
     
  7. macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #7
    Your post led me to believe you would be hosting those things.

    In that case, you don't need the Mac Mini Server. You would just be complicating matters with a server OS.

    Go with the regular Mac Mini to ensure you get OS X Client and iLife (this does not come with OS X Server).

    In terms of remote accessibility, you need to be sure your machine is accessible from the outside. This means knowing your external IP or using a service like dyndns.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #8

    Well this is a $300.00 savings. Thank you. :)
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #9
    It is. But $300 less performance too. Like every purchase, there's a balance you need to reach. It's a better deal than an upgraded client mini. If the client mini meets your needs, obviously get that. If you want the extra processor speed and memory and second hard drive, get the server machine.

    Also, don't worry about the "server" OS. Snow Leopard Server is just Snow Leopard client with extra server apps and a built-in directory controller (none of which you are obligated to use). This isn't the Windows world.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #10
    As everyone else, I am trying to get the best bang for the buck. I definitely want this machine to come with the largest drive etc. I will lean more towards the server as I am looking for those points you have mentioned. Thanks again.

    I am looking into that Dyndns and it seems a little complicated in the initial setup. But, I will call them and get some help. Thanks.
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #11
    Well no. You can't simply assume, as you are, that the fact that it costs $300 less implies that it has equally less value.

    Processor: Marginal, we are talking less than 300 MHz.
    Memory: Under $100 to upgrade or ($100 from Apple).
    Second Hard Drive: Serves little purpose here for the OP's usage.

    Also, OS X Server is far more than "extra apps." There is a reason you can't install Server Admin Tools on OS X Client and get the same functionality as OS X Server.

    In addition, OS X Server assumes you want to use it as a server and thus during initial setup asks for things most aren't familiar with.

    OP, of course, do what you want. But the reasons given above a inaccurate. There will be a marginal performance gain and again, you are complicating your environment with an OS that is more complicated behind the scenes.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #12
    I completely understand. I have been reading about OS X Server and I think it will serve the purpose I have. I especially like the ability to have remote access without VPN.

    Also, I like the ability of being able to mirror the hard drives in case one goes down. Once again, thanks for the input. I might make a move on the server. I will keep you posted. :D
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #13
    I didn't say $300 less value; I said $300 less performance. I'm not assuming anything. Since that's the price difference between the two options the OP is considering, $300 is exactly what that performance is worth.

    For the purposes of this discussion, that's exactly what the server OS is. The OP wants to use it as a client. When using Snow Leopard Server as a client, there is no functional difference between that OS and the client OS, except for the extra apps, etc. Again, none of which the user is obligated to use.

    Also, the performance gain is not marginal. I have one of each. The faster drives make a big difference. Putting them in a RAID0 configuration makes an even bigger difference. Performance is not just about MHz. There are other things that matter more.
     
  14. macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    Setting up screen sharing (and some other things like printer sharing) is different in SLS than SL. Frankly if the OP insists on buying the mini with SLS as a workstation, he ought to read the many threads on installing SL.

    But a basic mini would do all he wants anyway and has the convenience of a built-in DVD drive.

    Running RAID1 in the mini server isn't a substitute for backups. Hardware failures can take both drives out (as it did to a coworker here just yesterday in a high-end HP workstation), and of course there is theft, fire, natural disasters...

    VPN can be set up in SL from the command line, but it is simpler to tunnel VNC over SSH. And there are many commercial alternatives such as ShareTool (least expensive), MobileMe, Logmein, GotoMyPC.
     
  15. macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #15
    This is precisely what is an assumption. That because it costs $300 more, that $300 translates into $300 of performance (which I stated as value).



    You cannot with any accuracy state that there is no functional difference. The reason being, most do not run OS X Server as a client machine. Meaning data on what works and what does not is hard to come by. In theory, yes, there is no functional difference. However, if there are issues the chances of finding a resolution are slim to none. Especially if you don't have a background in solving issues.

    The performance is indeed marginal. I never stated that performance is about MHz, please don't attempt to put words in my mouth and undermine what I stated.

    Yes, a performance gain can be achieved with RAID0, however, unless you are performing IO intensive tasks this is not something you will not in everyday usage.

    The question here is whether or not the Mini Server offers enough value to justify the $300 difference. I do not think it does. You obviously think differently. Get the right tool for the job. If the OP knew what they were doing, they wouldn't be posting here. If you expect everyone to simply fall down and say the server version is fine, you may be in the wrong place.
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #16
    Value and performance are not the same thing. You can't actually use them interchangeably. Two completely different concepts.

    That is not a functional difference.

    That's not true. As I said, I have one of each. There's a significant difference.

    Save it.

    You missed the point.

    I didn't say that. And really, whether I think so isn't relevant. The simple fact is that the client mini is $300 cheaper, but comes with $300 less performance. That is what that bump in performance COSTS, not what it is WORTH. Again, two different concepts, which you are mixing up.

    To quote one of my own earlier posts: "If the client mini meets your needs, obviously get that." You are the only one making an inappropriate value judgement.
     
  17. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Savannah
    #17
    I use the Server as a Client... It's a great little computer. For me, the extra ram, extra and faster drive, and slight speed bump on the CPU are worth the extra money. The only accommodations I had to make was installing Boot Camp and iLife... I've had no issues with screen sharing either.
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #18
    Did you install the client OS? Or still using the server OS that came with it?

    I did Boot Camp briefly, but didn't really use it enough to justify the hard disk space (I also have an actual PC for Windows work, so putting it on my Mac was just a convenience thing anyway).
     
  19. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #19
    I truly appreciate you all taking the time to reply to my post. I didn't mean for it to start and trouble. :( As to respond to an earlier comment, I truly don't know what the heck I am doing. But, I know everyone has an opinion and a particular way of doing things. Heck, I even asked the IT guy at my office (daytime job), and he gave me a different opinion.

    I have given thought to what I had asked earlier and my biggest concern is accessing the Mini remotely without having to go through a VPN or third party. I really don't want anyone having access to my files. I have read up on the OS X Server software and it said you can access it without VPN. Now, the IT guy at work told me that I would have to have a dedicated IP address. From anyone's personal experience with this, did you have to have a dedicated IP for your server, or were you able to access it through your home ISP?

    The other thing is with the group iChat and such, I do have people who work with me around the country but are not Mac users. Would we still be able to have a group video conference? I also like the Wiki thing, to be able to communicate back and forth with the group. Does anyone have experience with this?

    Sorry for all the newb questions, but I am going to pull the trigger here by the end of October, beginning of November and I am just trying to make an educated decision. Thanks.:D
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    #20
    Regarding the IP address: you don't have to have a static address. Rather, you need to KNOW what your address is when you want to access the machine remotely. Obviously, that is easier if the address is static.

    There are other ways to manage that though. You could look at a service like dyndns. Or you can go without, if you have an ISP that rarely expires your address.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #21
    I have Time Warner for my ISP. I am going to contact them about that. Thanks for letting me know that it can be done. Awesome.:D
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Savannah
    #22
    No reason to install the client, I just use Snow Leopard Server.
     
  23. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #23
    Do you find it (server apps) slowing down what you do normally?
     
  24. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Savannah
    #24

    No, I don't find any downsides to being on SnowLeopardServer.
     
  25. thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 23, 2010
    #25

    Thanks for the heads up. :D
     

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