Can I turn an old iMac into a combination router and backup/file server?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by tuna, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. tuna macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2010
    Someone in my house just replaced their old 2006 17" iMac with a new MBP. They won't be needing that old computer any more. I could sell it, but I was wondering what else I could do with it.

    For starters, I hate my linksys wireless router. It has to be powercycled very regularly, more than once a day if I'm trying to do some torrenting. Extremely annoying. Can I get software for the iMac that will let it take up all the functionality of my Linksys router (except for the wireless part)? I think that a Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of RAM should be much more capable of handling my torrenting traffic than the cheap integrated chips on a consumer-grade router. What software do I use so that I'm not sacrificing security? Ideally something that would provide a GUI that would be familiar to someone who has used a bunch of consumer grade routers in the past.

    Secondly, what other server functionality could I use the iMac for?
    -Is there a good way to remotely a bittorrent client on it?
    -Is there a good way for it to be able to host a centralized music collection that could be accessed by other computers with iTunes on the local network? How about remotely (eg could I have my own music cloud)?
    -Can I back up and restore computers on the local network to the iMac?


    1) What Mac OS X software to use to turn mac into a firewall/router/DHCP server?

    2) What Mac OS X software to use to turn mac into a media server? file server? Backup server?
  2. RebeccaL, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

    RebeccaL macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2011
    For the media File sharing part, there is a nice tutorial on Lifehacker that could be of help:

    It covers mostly multi-platforms apps for use as media center, but it can apply to your situation as XBMC can stream from remotes HD and uTorrent can be operated remotely. iTunes can be limiting if using it as media server, XBMC works best for sharing.

    As for converting the mac in a firewall/router/DHCP server, the best option would be to install a server version of linux like Ubuntu server edition. The OS can't compare to mac in desktop use, but for your purposes there are toons of build in and freeware apps that can do the job. Also it will be compatible with PCs and Macs on your networks and it has very thight security:

    Heope this hep. If you have any other question feel free to ask here or PM me.
  3. tuna thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2010
    Well I was hoping that there was some router software for OS X. If I was going to go with a different OS, there are purpose-built OSs for this use...

    but I'm pretty sure that there is router software for OS X.
  4. tuna thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Has anyone used IPRouterNetX by Sustainable Software? Seems to be about what I'm looking for, I just don't know if it's good.
  5. wovel macrumors 68000

    Mar 15, 2010
    This may sound odd, but dd-wrt under virtualbox (no need for vmware for this) makes a cool router, there are some other options that way too. I have a whole vm network segmented that way and the dd-wrt box has the external ip (through that weird uverse dmz hack). That vm runs great with 64mb ram, aim sure it could use less.
  6. JustARumor macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    IPNR is a longtime stalwart in the genre, and Peter Sichel, the developer, has a *very* strong grasp of network software. I can't say that I've used the OS X version, but I used it extensively under OS 7/8/9 years ago, and it was wonderful. I don't know how much consumer hardware routers have changed, but back then, IPNR on even a low-range Mac blew away anything short of enterprise hardware in terms of performance, plus it was far more--and far more easily--configurable. Also of note, it was a very early embracer of OS X, so it's been on the platform and being refined for a number of years now. Finally, Peter offers very good support, which at least used to include an extremely helpful e-mail discussion list (possibly migrated to a web forum given recent trends).

    Short answer: Were it my money, I'd have absolutely no qualms about jumping on IPNR sight-unseen if the description indicated it would fit my needs.

    That said, I just checked the site, and it appears that they offer a 21-day evaluation period on everything, so I would suggest downloading it and giving it a shot. Then, you'll know for sure if it's right for you.

    Good luck!

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