First post -- multiple questions

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Tim L, Oct 7, 2010.

  1. Tim L macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2010
    Lowell, MA

    I'm a long-time Mac user (I previously owned 512k Mac back in the early days, then a PowerMac 8500), but I've never been what call a *power* user, so I have what may be some very basic questions regarding my new Macs, migrating to Snow Leopard, and setting up a very simple wireless network.

    After 10 years my PowerMac G4 500 (AGP) is finally about to enter retirement, and I'm set to replace it with the combination of a new iMac and MacBook (which I hope to basically mirror each other) and a 2TB Time Capsule to serve as the hub of this wee wireless network.

    I *think* the migration from the G4 to the iMac should be straightforward -- (although I discovered last night that I'll need an Firewire 800 to 400 adapter to get the two machines to talk to each other); hopefully I'll be able to get this squared away this evening.

    Step two, I presume, would be to set up the Time Capsule and create a wireless network, which I could then use to set up the MacBook.

    So, questions are as follows:

    1) Should I expect to run into problems using Migration Assistant to transfer data from the G4 to both the iMac *and* the MacBook?

    2) How complicated do I need to make the network? Basically the iMac and the MacBook will each have 2 users. In addition to file synching (GarageBand, iPhoto, NeoOffice, etc.), I would like to have each user's preferences, Mail accounts, and Safari bookmarks synch to each other. It looks like there are a number of ways to do this -- Dropbox, ChronoSync, ShareTool, etc. -- though I'd rather not spend the $100/year for a MobileMe account, but is this even necessary?

    2a) Is it possible to use the MacBook to run applications off the iMac via the network, or will I need to install a separate copy of each application (e.g., NeoOffice) for each machine?

    3) I currently use SuperDuper! to backup my G4 to an 80GB external HD each week; I purchased a 2TB Time Capsule, which I presume I can use for incremental Time Machine backups for both the iMac and the MacBook. I also presume it's recommended that I should get a new, larger HD so that I can backup the iMac, rather than use the Time Capsule for both SD! *and* Time Machine? (I'm assuming that I'll keep the iMac and MacBook synched so that a SD! backup of the MacBook would be redundant.) I also presume it's not a problem to have Time Machine on both the iMac and the MacBook backing up to a single Time Capsule.

    4) Silly newbie wifi network question: If I have the iMac set to "wake for network activity", I presume I can log on to the network from the MacBook regardless of where I am as long as I have a wifi connection -- e.g., from a hotel room in Cleveland -- right? Would something like ShareTool help at all?

    I think that's it for the moment; I appreciate any advice you all are able to provide!

  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    You may get some better answers, but I'll try to get the ball rolling, as you're trying to do something almost identical to what I have set up at home.

    Generally, no--this should work quite smoothly. You can also make a clone of the old boot drive to an external and use Migration Assistant on that, if you want to avoid the FW800/400 adapter.

    There are a lot of ways to approach this. MobileMe probably is the smoothest and easiest if you're syncing preferences, but it of course isn't free. You can do a roll-your-own MobileMe, but that can get pretty hairy.

    An alternate, if you want to get fancy, would be to buy one of the new(er) Mac Mini servers, which will let you create network home folders on the server; you then log into that account in effect, and get exactly the environment you want whichever computer you're sitting in front of. (This feature isn't available on client versions of the OS, and OSX Server costs about as much as the mini with the software if you buy it alone.) This has the added advantage of being able to store all your data on the server and access it via the network, so it's wherever you are (so long as "wherever" is at home). It's also possible to essentially sync against the network home folder to a laptop so that you have access when you're not at home without issue.

    I do this, except without the network home folders, because the mini Server wasn't available at the time--I just have all files directly on the server, and use IMAP for mail.

    Apple will, hopefully, come up with a more user-transparent way to do exactly this in the future, as a lot of us want to without the hassle. MobileMe currently is what's filling that niche.

    For most applications, yes, but due to the fact that the network is MUCH slower than the hard drive, I wouldn't recommend it--you're unnecessarily slowing down program launch and anything that requires it to load stuff by a LOT, and your only gain is a few dozen MB of space.

    I'm backing up directly to my Mini server instead of a TC, but this should work just fine, even with multiple computers, so long as there's enough space. Be warned, however, that there has been a lot of reports of glitches with Time Machine backing up over the network--it has a tendency to corrupt the backup disk image (which won't happen for direct access). In my testing an external hard drive connected to an AEBS (not a dedicated TC) was unusable--it would repeatably corrupt the backup image after a few tries, apparently because it just couldn't handle the data throughput. Backing up to my server over the network has been reliable for the last year, although I admit I only do wireless backups once in a while--most are via a wired gigabit connection.

    So long as you're SuperDuper-ing to a physically attached drive, though, you should be safe regardless.

    Maybe. If you plan on accessing your home computer from somewhere outside your home network, you will need to forward the correct port(s) for the service you want to use, so that connection attempts from outside your home network get routed to the correct computer. Further, unless your ISP gives you a static IP address (few do, although they don't usually change often), you'll need to use a dynamic DNS service (there are many free ones), coupled with an application on your home computer that updates the service so the dynamic DNS service knows where to route your connection to. As a result, you're probably going to need to leave your iMac awake for this to function if you're going to be away from home for more than a day or so, otherwise the IP address might change and you'll no longer be able to find your home network from a remote location.

    All that said, if you do have it set up to forward the port(s) and you have the IP address of your home internet connection, you can wake the iMac remotely if you have Wake On LAN enabled. Apple has a simple system for doing this automatically set up, but it will only work if you're within the Airport network, not from the outside, and in my experience it "Forgets" sleeping computers after about half a day. So you'll need to download a remote wake app (WakeOnLan is a simple free one) to poke your home computer. You'll also need to forward the wake port at the router, and set up the iMac to have a static IP address so that the forwarding will work.

    If this sounds a little complicated, that's because it is, and there isn't really much way around it. I believe (though have never tested) that MobileMe has some features to try and simplify the process considerably--maybe someone else can chime in to confirm or deny.
  3. Tim L thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 7, 2010
    Lowell, MA
    Thanks for the great response! (Sadly, what I want to do doesn't sound quite as straightforward as I expected....)

    Hopefully others will weigh in, too.

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