Best File Server...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by tefleming, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. tefleming macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2006
    I'm thinking about putting together a file server.

    I've been eyeing a G4 or a G5. Probably just get as low-end as possible and do the RAM and HDD upgrades myself.

    Is that the best bet? If so, 10.4 or 10.5? Time Machine seems like it would be a nice feature for a server.

    Could I do it with a mini?
  2. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    To all of the questions.
  3. tefleming thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2006
    So, I'm picking up a G4 Quicksilver 933.

    I'm definitely going to try and max out the 1.5GB of RAM.

    My remaining question is how much Video Card is it going to need to handle leopard (it's coming with a geforce 2mx)?

  4. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    Wait, this is a file server?

    If all it is doing is serving files, why would you possibly want to upgrade the ram to 1.5 gigs?

    Also, if this is a file server you actually care about, I'd highly recomend just doing what I do:

    Buy a cheap computer, anything above the 1ghz mark would be fine.

    Install a RAID PCI SATA card, stick a few 750 GB hard drives in RAID 1, and another 80 gb (or whatever) drive in one of the IDE chains, and install XP Pro on the machine. THen just share your drives, stick the thing in a closet somewhere with a cat5 cable and power cord running to it, and never worry about it again. Oh, also don't forget to install Ultra VNC on it before you stick the thing in a closet.
  5. Nugget macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2002
    Houston Texas USA
    This limits you to NTFS and SMB shares, neither of which are suitable as a Time Machine volume. You need a Leopard machine using AFP and HFS+ volumes if you want to use Time Machine.

    Even if you don't plan to use Time Machine, it's nice to have a shared filesystem that can properly handle all the OS X metadata and a protocol that's less terrible than SMB.
  6. mandoman macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2005
    Low power is key for something you are going to leave
    on 24/7. So I would buy a NAS box that supports AFP/HFS+

    Otherwise, a low power mac (mini?) would fit the bill well.
    I'd skip the G5.

    If you haven't upgraded to wireless N gigabit network, you
    might also consider an Airport Extreme with a USB drive
    attached to it.
  7. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    If you go this route, WAIT. Apple needs to fix some major issues with AirDisk and the AirPort Extreme base station before using it as a dedicated backup solution.

    Not to mention, AirDisk is not currently compatible with Time Machine.
  8. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    SMB isn't that bad, IMHO, especially from a practical stadnpoint with a single user (or even an entire family) using the fileserver. Leopard deals with XP shares very well, and I'd say it's actually quite seemless.

    Also, the RAID setup is sort of a better setup for an actual fileserver. I'd build a ultra cheap XP box for the file server, and buy a 60 dollar external HD to use for time machine with your main rig.

    OR, just buy one of the fancy NAS RAID boxes out there.

    Actually, let me tell you EXACTLY what I'd do:

    Go to walmart and buy a 199$ gOS pc (it's a mini-ITX motherboard and uses basically zero power, plus has a single PCI expansion slot)
    Go to and buy a cheapish PCI SATA RAID card

    ta da! You have a good solid computer that is very quite, uses minimal energy and so has a low operating cost (the mini-itx board + VIA cpu), plus it's quite cheap and very readily available.

    Also, I recomend installing XP because if you are at all like me you'll run into files/etc that you need to modify/open/read/burn/copy/execute/etc that are either windows bianaries or require a windows only piece of software, then you can always use your "file server" to do what you need with your files.

    Just my two cents.
  9. admiraldennis macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2002
    Boston, MA
    -A G4 is perfect fast enough for a fileserver
    -1.5 GB of RAM is overkill
    -I highly recommend AFP over SMB if your primary client will be Mac OS X
  10. tefleming thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2006
    Wow, thanks to everyone that replied.

    My main machine (specs in sig) is still running 10.4 so, since I picked up the G4 on the cheap I was going to buy the Leopard family pack.

    I was going to add RAM and a Vid Card because it currently has 256mb & GF2MX and I didn't think Leopard would run well on it.

    I thought that the file server would allow me to upgrade my storage using far less expensive 3.5" drives. I was thinking that I can probably pick up 2x250GB drives and run them RAID0 and probably a 500GB to back them up to.

    I won't need Airport on it; will hook it up to the wired network (currently 10/100; anyone know what sorta benefit I'll get *in practice* with Gigabit?)
  11. zioxide macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2006
    fixed that for you
  12. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2007
    I couldn't agree more. Don't use Windows (or OS X) to run a file server, unless it is serving another purpose.

    A headless linux box is about the cheapest solution short term.

    A dedicated NAS device, like my personal fave, the Infrant Netgear ReadyNAS, will get you a super small form factor, less power consumption and about one tenth the trouble of setting up and maintaining a full linux system. Of course, you pay for all your trouble-saving up front. The diskless version is upwards of $600, but is expandable to 3TB.
  13. mandoman macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2005
    I'd go NAS solution first. Low power, raid reliability,
    small footprint, easy to maintain.

    I'd go linux/unix server solution next (using smb or nfs).

    I'd go mac server last (not necessarily the worst solution,
    just likely the most expensive in terms of cost of
    equipment and power to run). Though I would go
    this route over Linux if you aren't very technical.

    I would NOT go windows solution at all. Ick, I feel dirty
    just thinking of that.

    Too bad ZFS is not a go in leopard yet, that and a
    Solaris box with ZFS would be a really interesting solution.
  14. cohibadad macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2007
    Just download the developer ZFS beta to use read/write with Leopard. It's available with the free online developer membership.
  15. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    OK, to be fair, for a pure file server Ubuntu server may be the best choice, however if:
    a. You don't want to deal with Ubuntu/linux (not that getting Ubuntu up and running is hard, but it CAN be a hell of a lot harder than setting up XP, especially if you are trying to find raid drivers for the PCI card, etc)

    b. You want to do more than just "serve files on your server, for instance running an FTP client, a VNC client, a steaming MP3 server, not to mention using the server as a place to run non OSX native applications (I've found it easier on multiple ocassions to use my server to mount a propriatary disk image and share it over the network as apposed to trying to get it to work in OSX), etc. Of course you can do most (perhaps all) of these things in linux, but it's not nearly as easy (imo).

    But, I can' disagree that it would make a better FILE server.

    My server takes 5 minutes to setup, I install:

    Sequia View (for visualizing file sizes)
    UltraVNC (great VNC server, also comes with a web based VNC client that can be served to any browser)
    Python, followed by Edna (streaming MP3 server)
    A random FTP client (I forget what I use to be honest)
    A proxy (HotProxy)
  16. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007

    Why not windows?

    I guess I really just don't understand this. It takes litereally 30 minutes to setup from start to finish, and my server has been running for almost three years straight with the only failures being hard drive or heat related (I unplugged most of the fans to keep things quite ;)).

    edit: otherwise I basically agree with you, except as I guess I've already stated I'd go:
    Windows XP
  17. TemeculaMac macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2007
    I replaced a 4U multi-proc rack server, with this:

    This little kuro box rocks! It's just a tad larger than a hard disk drive, is quiet and doesn't use much power. Just install any flavor of linux on it, and you have a cheap file server.

    I'm running samba, squid, squidguard, mysql, apache and a few other servers on it. For home use, it's amazing...and hasn't caused any problems. I have a 500GB hard drive in it, and an external HD that I rsync every night to. Granted it's not RAID protected, but my data is being backed up every night to another drive. My iMac gets backed up via TimeMachine to this kuro box.

    For $149, you can't beat it!
  18. mandoman macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2005
    I would agree that if you are going to do something
    more than file serving, like torrents, ftp, or web server,
    than I'd go linux over nas.

    I still wouldn't go XP though unless you have devices
    that can really benefit from that (say a media device
    like xbox 360 that would run better with an XP server).
  19. mandoman macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2005
    Not to say windows is not capable, but repairing relatives
    virus infested Windows boxes over and over and over again has made me really despise windows.
    I just won't touch that OS unless I absolutely have to. I literally
    cringe anytime I have to use a windows pc...
  20. mandoman macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2005
    Sounds cool! Some of the newer NAS boxes can now run
    many of the file servers you mention (the latest ones
    have very capable intel processors in them). My next
    box must have RAID though.

    Once Samsung 1TB drives come out, I'm looking to move
    from a linux server to a thecus n5200 or infrant ready nas.
  21. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2007
    EDIT: I just realized you said "relatives" computers. So I take back the statement below. Even still, I've seen very few viruses on family computers, TONS and TONS of spyware and adware and things of the sort, which are terribly annoying almost to the point of making me want to not use windows, but I've only had spyware on my computer once or twice.

    I suppose this is a Mac forum, but I have to say, I don't understand it when I hear things like this. I've literally using a Windows computer since I was in 4th grade, Windows 3.1, and sadly I spend way to much time on a computer. I've used an anti virus, and I've never once had a virus, ever. The chances of getting a virus on a headless file server are even smaller, you aren't downloading files and executing them, you aren't opening up email, etc, etc, etc.
  22. kresh macrumors 6502a


    Are you being serious or are you just trolling? I honestly can't tell if you're trolling or not. Who in there right mind would want an Windows XP SMB server for a Mac centric network?
  23. kresh macrumors 6502a


    Thank you for answering my trolling question. */me Steps away from thread*
  24. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    PowerMac G4 works great for a server. I have a Dual G4 PowerMac as a server.

    There is never too much RAM for an OS. I would say 1gb is a good number for a server. Put more if you are running multiple apps / services, such as mail server, web server, download client, video server, music stream, etc.

    By the way, you don't need video card for server. I run my without monitor on a gigabit ethernet connection. Use Apple Remote Desktop or another VNC program.

    For those who suggest Linux or unix, repeat after me
    OS X = UNIX
    Leopard is CERTIFIED UNIX!!!
  25. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    I'll do G5 if you can afford it, and need a high speed RAID over gigabit ethernet, otherwise G4 works great, and most have 6 bays for harddrives (if you count/remove the optical drive, and the 3.5" bay under the optical that's sometimes occupied by a zip drive)

Share This Page