Enquiries to support potential home use of OS X Server

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by pscottorn, Jul 28, 2016.

  1. pscottorn macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2016

    I am looking for a solution for our family to provide access to files and media (mainly photos and iTunes music, already have plex server for movies although issues with iTunes movies) from a variety of devices both within the home and away from the home and achieve strong back-up solutions. We currently use a MacBook Air, Mac Mini i7 (permanently connected to a standard TV and running as the plex server), 2x iPads, 2 x iPhones, LG Smart TV and our wired and wireless network uses an Apple Time Capsule, Airport Extreme and Airport Express. We also have 2x G4 Powermacs sitting in a cupboard gathering dust.

    I have been considering the purchase of a Synology NAS to suit our purposes but wish to consider the option of using OS X Server before investing huge amounts of money into a Synology device, drives and back-up services.

    We have somewhere between 1 - 2TB of files and media at this point in time (which is of course ever growing) plus time machine back-ups for the macs.

    I have some initial questions regarding using OS X Server as follows:

    1. Will it support file and media sharing both within the home and away from the home on iOS devices and macs?

    2. Can it easily support the saving of photos taken on multiple iOS devices into one central photo library on the server which is then accessible to all devices?

    3. Can the MacBook Air (which has a SSD of limited capacity) be used wirelessly within the home to view and edit photos stored on the server via Apple's Photo App?

    4. If an iTunes product is purchased (music or movie) via an iOS device can this automatically become available via the server to all devices?

    5. Is it straightforward to connect to the server remotely via an iOS device?

    6. Is it straightforward to protect the server from unwelcome connection from 3rd parties?

    7. Is there anything else I should be aware of?

    All help and support is highly appreciated.

  2. DJLC macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2005
    Mooresville, NC
    1) OS X client can do this w/o server. Local file sharing in System Prefs -> Sharing, remote via Back to my Mac.

    2) No.

    3) Yes, but only while the share is mounted / photo library is stored on the share.

    4) I *think* so, but again OS X Server is not necessary for this. Turn on automatic downloads of new purchases in iTunes on the Mini, and it *should* auto-download and become available via iTunes Home Sharing.

    5) No.

    6) Yes — strong user account passwords, and careful planning on which ports you open to the outside.

    7) In general, I don't think OS X Server is going to quite do it for you. Although the latest version CAN allow you to actually mount a file share on iOS, it does not represent a sort of "local iCloud" as you seem to desire. Outside of that, OS X Server is very flaky and best left to niche cases where it's absolutely unavoidable. I would continue to investigate NAS options and set up Family Sharing among all household Apple IDs. This combo will more or less accomplish your goals.
  3. Cineplex macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2016
    Agreed. Family Sharing + NAS. There is nothing elegant about trying to shoehorn OS X Server to do these things. It will probably fall apart at some point and you will be right back to square one.
  4. pscottorn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2016
    Thanks guys.

    Any thoughts about FreeNAS or am I best advised to proceed down the Synology direction?
  5. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    The Synology direction will be MUCH easier in long run!
  6. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    1. Yes. OS X Server offers File Sharing, as does regular OS X. You do not need to pay for OS X Server to get File Sharing functionality. In order to access File Sharing across the Internet you will need to open some ports or setup VPN either using OS X Server or a program like iVPN.

    2. No. iOS does not offer the option to save photos automatically to a remote location.

    3. Yes. Any Mac or PC can access a file share hosted by the OS X Server machine and edit photos as it would with any NAS (Network Attached Storage).

    4. Yes. However, the server would not be involved at all. Purchasing an item on iTunes or the App Store would automatically make them available to any other device signed in under that Apple ID. Furthermore, on each device, the user can configure them to automatically download new purchases. If the devices are using different Apple IDs, then Family Sharing is a feature that you need to look into.

    5. Yes. For control of an OS X Server machine from an iOS device, the user must use a VNC program to "screen share" into the Mac. To access file shares offered by the server, the user must use a program like File Explorer on their iOS device as iOS does not have a built in file system viewer.

    6. Yes. The use of a firewall as well as keeping all software up to date is the best security. Furthermore, the use of VPN will protect not only the server but also the data transfer to and from when you are away from the local area network (LAN).

    7. Yes. Personally, I would recommend not using OS X Server as your needs do not warrant it. The best option would be to look at Google Photos or iCloud Photo Library to have a central location for photos to be stored, edited, and viewed. iTunes and iCloud already handle sharing purchases across devices, so the server is unneeded there. If you need a file sharing device, a good NAS or even a solid router with NAS capability like the Apple AirPort Extreme ($129 Apple Refurb) or the Time Capsule are both great options. We use an AirPort Extreme here with Google Photos for holding all of the photos I take and it is a match made in heaven. All the photos are safe and secure in case of a fire or damage to the hard drive, while I also get private file hosting from anywhere in the world with the AirPort Extreme. The speed is also plenty for my needs, but it is less than a "true" NAS like a Synology product.
  7. pscottorn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 19, 2016
    Ok thanks for all the responses. OS X Server idea shelved.
  8. Altemose macrumors G3


    Mar 26, 2013
    Elkton, Maryland
    Are you going with a NAS or AirPort?

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