Adequate File Server?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by heywood7, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. heywood7 macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2011
    I am looking for feedback on the new mac mini. Hopefully, there are a number of you who have experience in the matter.

    My company will soon have several graphic designers on staff. Currently, my Mac Pro is serving as the file server for the company. This is not ideal, as I would like to use my Mac Pro as a work station. We have a ReadyNAS in the office, but it's sluggish performance would never hold up with our work flow. I need a file server that can handle less than 10 designers working on large files. Ideally, I would also like to find something that acts as an in-house web server.

    The new Mac Mini with Thunderbold looks like it could fit the bill, but I would love to hear from people who are using the machine in a similar setup. Could the mini provide adequate performance as a file server? If so, what upgrades should I consider?

    I am also looking at attaching the LaCe Little Big DIsk for the files. If I understand correctly, this should run as quickly as an internal drive, correct?

    I would love to hear your feedback and any alternative suggestions.
  2. deafgoose macrumors regular


    Oct 20, 2011
    I think its a great idea but if you only get opinions, buy everything you need, set it up and try it for 14 days. If it does not perform as expected just return it.
  3. AVonGauss macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2006
    Boynton Beach, FL
    If any of the users will be Windows users, and you're not already running Lion successfully, I would make sure the file server component of Lion will support the necessary applications for Windows users. For Mac clients I have not seen any issues using a Mini as a file server, but Windows (SMB) it depends on what functions the application wants to use and may or may not be supported by the new SMB implementation.
  4. heywood7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2011
    This will be a mac-only environment, so I'm looking to utilize a file server that will best server macs and image editing/processing.
  5. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    You should be fine. I'd recommend you get the Mini server version for the raid 1 setup on the hard drives. Then, just connect the external drive and you'll be fine.

    Be very cautious with the default setup of the Little Big Disk, which is raid 0. If you aren't familiar with the increased risk of data loss from raid 0 it is worth doing some reading. Essentially, you more than double your failure rate compared to a single disk drive. I highly recommend you switch to a raid 1 setup in the LBD. This will cut the capacity in half but cut your risk of loss in half too.

    Finally, for the money of the LBD, you might want to look at the Promise Pegasus. Its about twice the cost but it delivers significantly higher performance and flexibility thanks to the 4 drive bays that take standard 3.5" drives. Moving forward, its a device that has longer legs and can stick around longer.
  6. singlemanhk macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2011
    why a file server as opposed to some network storage?

    I was in a similar situation to you and wanted to both to use my mac pro as a workstation and needed a file sever. I tried out your idea but found the external storage to mini link to be a data choke point when several staff were working on large files and projects. I ended up using a qnap 659 pro+ network storage device. it gave me ethernet connection for fast data transfer, raid 6 (2 redundant discs) to protect my data, and was able to host and run all the other stuff i needed. With 8tb of storage it also acts as my time machine storage location for the individual macs. And in two years, all i've had to is clean the dust from the fans vents.
  7. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    I have been using the six bay unit it is really nice you can get one at a good discount 1320 vs 1500. it allows many different setups. including 6 separate drives as jbod. this means one or two ssds and 4 big hdds. and they will all boot.
  8. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    This would definitely be a cheaper way to go. I think the original poster was put off by the slow throughput of their existing ReadyNAS, but current NAS models are quite a bit faster all around. If he wants to also run a web server on it, he'll have to check and see exactly what the NASes he's looking at will support or not. Most current models support at least basic LAMP services.

    Use the new NAS as your primary network file store, use the old ReadyNAS as a network backup destination, if the storage capacity is large enough.
  9. heywood7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2011
    How were you connecting the drives to the mini, via USB, Firewire 800 or Thunderbolt? I've seen the same bottlenecks over USB and Firewire. However, I once worked for a company that used eSata to connect raid 5 drives. The performance was good and there were several of us working simultaneously on large graphic files. We were also using a PowerMac to connect the drives.

    If I understand correctly, Thunderbold allows for even greater transfer speeds than eSata. This leads me to believe that it could support several users.

    My biggest issue with the Qnap is that the performance seems to be is lacking, despite having stronger benchmarks than other NAS systems. I'm currently thinking of going Dustin's rough and connection a 4 bay Pegasus in Raid 5 to the mini via thunderbold.
  10. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    Make sure that you have a clear idea on backup and recovery. Who is responsible for designing/testing and validating that backup and recovery works?
  11. heywood7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2011
    I will be in charge of that job. I have an unused ReadyNAS that I'm considering for my backup drive. Plus, using a Raid 5 with the Pegasus should add a degree of redundancy.
  12. singlemanhk macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2011
    I was using firewire 800, and the bottlenecks were of the type that just grate when you're working, saving files and deadlines are tight... moved to the qnap and not noticed any since and the staff have commented on them as well. As a work solution it worked for us.

    A good point made about extra back-up, I thought raid6 in the qnap would be enough - but reading through here i think i'll add an extra layer.
  13. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    HERE is a link to a discount thunderbolt.

    they have a rewards program that will lower the price more.

    My 6 bay is running as raid5 with 6 drives very fast access times.

    takes a while to setup 11 hours. I have it attached to my mac mini server.

    I also found this

    it is the 12tb unit the discount is 125 but if you join the rewards program you get 93 more off the price.

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