Advice needed for small architecture business


macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 12, 2007
I am in the process of starting up a small business with a partner and have been given the role of also IT guy for now.

My question is we both love Mac's and will be buying either a couple new iMac's and maybe a MacPro for our renderings, etc but I am more interested the server / networking part.

As an architectural office we obviously need to have a place where we can access our printers, shared files, and the internet. More importantly, we need to make sure our files our always backed up.

How would you guys set up this network? I have heard other people using mac-minis as the server, but what about backup (I have heard a lot of good things about Drobo too). I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts, and if you think I am heading in the right direction! Thanks in advance.

*edit - sorry forgot about budget. we don't really have a budget setup yet. but want to make sure we buy some quality items that won't fail soon. How about a recomendation on a cheap option and a more expensive option.


macrumors regular
Oct 17, 2007
A mac mini would be fine as the server. As long as you know about networking/DNS you should be able to setup the server. As far as backups go, first off make sure you're wired, NOT wireless (cat5e or cat6, gig ethernet switches/routers). Second, Mac OS X server allows you to backup every machine via Time Machine to the server. Just attach an external hard drive (drobo is nice, don't use it for fast access storage though) and set it as the Time Machine target, then setup each Mac to backup to the server and it'll handle everything.

As long as the server doesn't have to do anything heavy (rendering) the mini will be a fine machine. Set the discs in a RAID1, have at least 4GB of RAM, and attach an external RAID array (or two) for backups and storage over firewire. Stash the mini in a closet and use screen sharing and server utilities on a remote machine to manage it once you've set it up initially.

I would highly recommend NOT getting an Apple airport (extreme/express/time capsule) if you're going consumer-grade on the router/firewall. This is based on my use of them in both residential and small business scenarios. I just got a Netgear WNDR3700 dual-band wireless router with gig ethernet and complete control over the network (IP addresses, DNS, forwarding, QOS, etc).

Try not to have all your fruit in the same basket - Apple stuff is great but beyond computers I'd leave the network gear to network companies. Get switches/routers elsewhere.

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
You can pick up a Mini Server first and try to see how well it fits in as a client workstation and how easy it is to get at the printers and scanners.

If the printers are all on Ethernet it shouldn't be too hard, just check to see where you are at with apps and drivers for all the printers (which may be where you run into problems with printers and scanners.)


Finding out where your holes are with drivers, should help with the budget. And a Mini Server likely would still be useful if things seem to pricey to switch now.


macrumors newbie
Jan 21, 2006
Brisbane, Australia
Perhaps if the budget is tight, use a network renderer (using your iMacs as clients) rather than purchasing a Mac Pro.

This way you can use your iMacs overnight to 'cook' the renders, and document during the day, thus squeezing the most value out of your investment (your whole systems is working 24hrs). If your firm grows, then you can add another iMac as appropriate (with the extra benefit of speeding up rendering capacity).

I use ArchiCAD, Cinema 4D and Maxwell render from my laptop - point being that you don't need a high-end ($$$) workstation to produce the work. The grunt is needed in getting the renders 'out the door' ASAP so you can get on with the less sexy tasks of architectural practice like producing black lines on paper :p

Best of luck with the new partnership!


macrumors newbie
Jul 29, 2010
This is a difficult question to answer as it really depends upon where your own personal strengths lie. If you are a great written and verbal communicator systems analyst/system architecture would be the best route. However if you are more interested in the technical aspects of IT networking/application development may be your better path.

company logo design


macrumors 68020
May 26, 2006
New York, Baby!
I think you got the wrong end of the stick there Martinezj, OP isn't asking for career advice but for a complete system for their business.


macrumors 68020
May 26, 2006
New York, Baby!
What I would be concerned about are the following:

-Email/collaboration services, would you be using iPhones/iPads
-Future Growth, do you see your company being a 2 person outfit for long?

There are probably a lot more things to think about too.

Think more about what your business needs are (or write them down more) and what they may become in the next 2 years and then you can work out the technical solutions.

Too often we think of the solutions first and attempt to shoehorn needs into them.
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