Do I need OSX server? If no, how do I......

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by MacPhotoFan, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. MacPhotoFan, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010

    MacPhotoFan macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2010
    This is my first post. I'm running into some troubles when using multiple Mac computers (at home) and I'm wondering whether Mac OSX Server would be a good solution.

    My situation:
    Me, my wife and 3 daughters are users. I have a Macbook Pro, a Macbook and a Mac Pro will be delivered tomorrow to my doorstep. Everyone wants to use whatever computer they can lay their hands on for creating documents and reading, sending and archiving mail. This means that everyone works on all of them depending which one is free or convenient to use.

    The problems:
    1. I get mail archives scattered around on 3 different machines. People start complaining they can't find their sent messages, because they forget which machine they sent them from. I have one machine (the MBP) that holds the mail archives of me and my wife. The Macbook can send mail, but I have a copy sent to the Macbook and archive it there as sent mail.
    Note: it's mainly the mail archive that seems difficult to tackle. I could use IMAP for the mail accounts, but I like my mail archive to be on a hard drive, not somewhere in my ISP's office.

    2. Documents are created on all 3 computers and are stored on each computer's hard drive, in "documents". It's a mess and even when I clean it up, it will be a mess in a couple of weeks or even days.

    My hardware:
    - Fritzbox (router) with NAS attached (Conceptronic CH3SNAS)
    - The router has a USB port to attach a FAT32 formatted drive
    - Macbook Pro
    - Macbook
    - Mac Pro

    I'm not a Mac OSX Server wizzkid. I'm sure I'd manage to install it, but it would cost me a lot of time. I'd like to avoid it actually. But how do I handle the problems without the server software?

    I could think of the following:
    - put all documents in a sparseimage file for each user (5 sparseimage files) and store them on the NAS. Then create users on each computer and connect to each particular documents folder at login.
    - email: really don't have a clue.

    Any suggestions?



    Edit: almost forgot, I have about 10 email addresses, one for each user and some aliases for myself. I like to be able to control the access to those mailboxes per user. For instance, I want each user to be able to access his/her personal mailbox, and I want to give my wife access to mine and vice versa. The kids cannot read my personal mail and so forth.
    And I want parental control for the children's accounts.
  2. dime21 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2010
    MobileMe might be a solution for mail and document sync across machines.
  3. MacPhotoFan thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 10, 2010
    Thanks for your reply! I don't like my personal files to be outside my home, so I think MobileMe is not for me.
  4. GLS macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2010
    A MacMini server can provide all these things that you are wanting to do, but not knowing your comfort level with working with Open Directory, etc it might not be your best option.

    We have two servers at home as well; doing all that you are mentioning but email (use Google and Mobileme for our email needs).

    Not to insult, but a trip to a book store to acquire a copy of one of the OSX Server for Dummies-type books might be a nice investment before you make the plunge. It will cover all of the things you are wanting to accomplish, and give you an overview of the steps necessary.
  5. hayduke macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2005
    is a state of mind.
    I'm not sure what snags you'd run into, but you might be able to get the home directories onto the NAS. Probably not the entire home directory, but at least the key folders (Documents and possibly Library, which contains the stuff for This is similar to what you've proposed. I think this would work fine.

    Are you using You can always switch to a web-based mail client (Gmail etc.).
  6. And1ss macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2009
    try chronosync. It can work with any idisk like online data storages or a personal file server.
  7. SVT Amateur macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2006
    Tyler, Texas
    Mac Server will do exactly what you want - but yes - it does take a little time to learn. After 2 weeks of tinkering (and 0 server experience) I have mine running many different services - mainly mail, web, and file sharing.

    The great thing about server is that you can setup mobility accounts - which store a copy of the person's home folder on the local computer they are on and also on the network. This folder is synced so that if a user logs out and goes to another computer everything that they changed and saved will now be accessible on the computer they just logged on - including all their email, individual settings and preferences for all their programs, dock icons, etc.
  8. Darth.Titan macrumors 68030


    Oct 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    No, you don't need OS X server for your issues. For your email issue, look into IMAP email. For your docs, invest in a NAS drive.

    OS X Server is overkill for your needs.

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