A whole office 'switch'...


macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 14, 2004
Recently a Mac switcher, I've convinced my father that Apple is the way to go, as opposed to the unstable Dell+MS systems my father has been running at his office. Currently, he has a basic network set up in his office, with 4 clients (including his laptop) running off of an old dell set up as a sort of server...basically file server, functioning as the main database for all documents, photos, emails, etc. used in the office. He's tired of all the problems he has with spyware, adware, viruses, etc. constantly infecting his systems, and he'd like to run a more reliable network. But here's the problem: he uses some software that isn't compatible with OSX, such as Peachtree Accounting as his main accounting software. I offered Quickbooks as an alternative, but there also other programs (CAD, other software that his designers overseas use to create mockups of new programs, etc.) that he would need run locally on his office machines. In a few weeks, I'll be reorganizing his office network to that of a more reliable system...ie, better backup methods, faster network connections, network printers, and all that good stuff. Now, I'd like to be able to propose a new network, mainly running off of OSX and Macs. My questions:
1. Would the mini's be functional as basic networking clients (with enough power under the hood to run Virtual PC, in case those PC only programs are needed?) b. How fast/slow is Virtual PC on a G4 (say 1.5 ghz, on PB 12", or 1.33 on mini) or G5 (PM 1.8 SP)
2. What type of basic server solution would I be able to purchase? (ie, is xserve too much power for such a small scale network? Would I be able to run a PM, iMac, or mini as the server?)
3. Would I be able to network together PC's and Macs, and with what sort of integration (ie, accessabilty of network drives, printers, etc.)
4. What sort of software would i need for such a network? I'm familiar with the basic windows network drives, network sharing...is this form of connectivity available on OSX?
5. Externally...what sort of problems would these networked clients have with e-mails/attachments/file sharing with other PC's, say with customers and business clients?

As far as the files and software used in the office, the only formats that I know for sure aren't compatible with the osx are the accounting software, some barcoding software, and other relatively minor software that wouldn;t be too hard to replace.

A budget is sort of an issue for this network, but with the introduction of the mac mini, i'm pretty confident I can set this network up using existing hardware that is in the office for less than $6000 (including 3 minis, either an xserve, imac, or PM as the main computer, a PB, new routers, AP's, and extraneous nework supplies). Consider the budget....



macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
North Carolina
I'm not a network expert BUT--

xServe seems like overkill. Probably a bottom of the line G5 would handle it fine.

You might be better off keeping a single PC for compatibility rather than a bunch of VPCs. My old office did this; used it for accounting and the occasional app that only ran on PCs.

edit: Just remembered a detail about the PC setup -- we used VNC to access the PC, so anyone had access to it from his/her desk. Still probably faster and cheaper than getting everyone VPC.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2002
Ithink you should be able to pull it off. I can't give you specifics, I'm certain someone here can, but I can tel you this.

The mini should be able to be used as a file server for such a small network. Many people use lesser computer to do that job. Don't plan on running ebay on it but a simple file (maybe even email server) server should be fine. Others may be able to give you Pro and cons of maybe using OS X Server on it, I haven't used it at all so can't say much on that.

I would not rely on Virtual PC on less it is the last and only resort. I would first try finding the same or similar software on the mac when ever possible. Next choice would be to either keep or purchase a cheap PC to run those few programs that are unavailable or or unwilling/unable to change. I find Virtual PC to be a Pig on anything not called solitaire. I don't think it should be used for mission critical situations.

Most of the time macs and pcs can play fine in the same network. Printers should be fine provided they are at least mac compatible. I don't think you should need any additional software, however there is software out there that can make it easier.

Just my 2 cents.


macrumors 65816
Aug 11, 2002
Charlotte, NC
As much as I like Macs and OS X, I don't think switching all at once is a good idea. It sounds like these PC programs are used daily and are an integral part of business functions.

Perhaps you can start with one or two Power Macs to replace the oldest PC's and then switch the rest of the hardware and software in phases as new upgrades are needed.

Forget using VPC for anything that is processor intensive. It's just not practical for things like CAD or graphics.

Also you mentioned Quickbooks for Mac as an alternate for accounting. If you need mutiuser abilities, forget it. Quickbooks for Mac does not support multiuser. The Mac version it touted as being able to open Windows Quickbook files. But that's a vaque statement. It will open a "backup" file, which would be cumbersome in a multiplatform office.

Hope this helps.


macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 14, 2004
thanks for the tips

I appreciate the help...

I'm convinced that maybe a full switch might not be a good idea, mainly because no one in the office (of the 5 employees) knows how to use a Mac, and those PC programs that are necessary are used daily. Well...damn, I guess I almost made the switch...

PS I have however, successfully convinced my father to purchase a PB for his next laptop. He purchased a new Dell (argh) a few days ago to replace his Fujitsu (to which he could only complain about its lackluster performance, mainly due to the proliferation of spyware/adware/viruses/etc/etc/etc)...while moving over some documents, and nearly losing all his e-mails in the shady Outlook archiving process...he used my PB 12" to look over some web pages and said...."huh, maybe I should have gotten your computer..." BAM! Aside from that, convinced my Mom that an iMac would be a perfect replacement for the 4 year-old dell wasting space on her desk. She claims (in her exaggerative-Israeli speech) that it takes 20 minutes to boot. Hmm...maybe she's not exaggerating after all....
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