Help with servers and small business please

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by almundis, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. almundis macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2013
    Hello, im a new member here though I have been lurking around the site for various mac solutions and have come accross something I could really use some help with, that said if this topic is in the wrong place or not the sort of thing you guys can help with please dont hesitate to recommend other sources/forums.

    Basically, I am working at a small graphic design company doing lots of odds and ends that the creative team dont want to deal with. The main issue that we are facing is that we all live and work about 500 miles from each other and are trying to come up with a way in which we can transfer files to each other quickly and easily (some of these files can be several gigs big). Currently they are using a service called sugarsync but I was wondering whether it would be better to rent some kind of server.

    My knowledge of servers is limited to the knowledge that they are essentially big towers of memory that can take and distribute large amounts of data. But after a couple hours googling all I have found is that there are several types of these servers and I am at a loss as to which one would suit our needs. Basically what we want is a portal that only we can access and with which we can upload/download work files to and from each other. Is this something that is worth renting a server for? if so what kind of server do we need? We are all running on mac machines if that makes any difference.

    As a secondary issue how would we go about setting up work email addresses e.g . I have asked my techhy friend and he said the options were either to use some kind of server (though he was unsure of any detail beyond that) or to find some kind of website that specifically rents its own servers for that purpose.

    Any and all help appreciated.
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There are a lot of variations on a theme here but the simplest perhaps is to put into the path at least one NAS unit for storage. The network attached storage unit can be set up as an FTP server. This can reside at one of the homes of the people you work with (preferably the one with the most stable and fastest bandwidth). Though NAS is NOT a back up solution, it does provide a central point for transfer and storage that could be backed up to a service or to external drives and then stored elsewhere. This approach gives you/company full control.

    The alternative is a 3rd party site and the catch often is that there is a bandwidth charge. The plus is that often they offer support for the service, possibly back up solutions so you don't have to worry about that.

    There are some "cloud" services but if you try to go this path, highly recommend you investigate the service thoroughly for hidden costs, security and then some.
  3. almundis thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2013
    Thanks for the quick reply phrehdd. If I were to go with the first option I assume I would need to get a hold of some software for it all to run with, are there any recommended for use with apple specifically? And either way can you recommend some good software (doesnt have to be freeware).

    I realise I am asking fo r a fair bit of spoonfeeding here but its just such a huge topic that I find google searches leave me reading dozens of pages of definitions and leave me more confused than before...
  4. phrehdd, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013

    phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    What a NAS system is - they can be from one to several hard drives in a "box" that is connected to your network. There are many makers of these types of units and there is never anything wrong with asking questions. As for an "FTP server" - it is the ability for you to upload and download to a specific storage unit (the FTP Server) via FTP software. There are a few available for Mac that are free.

    NAS units - what I strongly recommend you do is to log on to a site called SmallNetBuilder. It is a site devoted to various hardware including NAS units and they also test them out, review them and rate them. What you might do is join their forums and see if anyone is doing similar with Macs. Two popular lines of NAS makers are Synology and QNAP. There are also other names you might recognize such as D-Link, Netgear etc but focus on those two makers first.

    Btw, you can always set up an "FTP server" on a Mac but then the speed of the drive in the Mac comes in question and such. A Mac Mini with an external USB3 or Thunderbolt drive would also nicely fit your schema. The advantage of course is everything is Mac. Most NAS servers come with pretty good software (for your purposes) and also plenty of forums with lots of people willing to help out.

    Terms you need to become familiar with -
    DMZ for the router
    Port forwarding for the router
    Permissions - what access people have for logging in to your NAS or Mac.
    If you learn these terms you are in good shape and just generic knowledge should suffice.

    Last - If you go with a large volume NAS, most are set up in what is called RAID. RAID to consider - 0, 1, 01, 10, 5 and 6. That site above should help out tremendously in learning a bit about NAS.

    I have two NAS at home and though I don't communicate with them outside my flat, I do lots of FTP from my computer to those NAS and also have my media files and iTunes on those units for media playback from my Mac, my TV, my AVR (audio only) and even my blu ray player will connect and playback LARGE media files (more than 20 gig files).

    *** EDIT ADDITION *** If you decide to have a NAS at a home, absolutely check into your service provider to make sure that you have good up and down speed on your Internet connection. Most ISPs are great at download speed but lag on upload speed.
    Feel free to PM me if you need more help
  5. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    The basic first decision is peer to peer vs centralized. Do you want a single shared location that everyone taps into or each person sharing some part of their personal setup. The second is time, are these being shared in real time or is it okay that the next guy needs an hour to download it?

    If these are all the same format, another option is Remote Desktop. Put all the files on a single workstation and give everyone a remote control log in. Nothing would actually move, other than pixels and keystrokes.

    If this is a growing office, consider contracting with an IT shop, who can plan, recommend, setup, and fix these kinds of things.
  6. FireWire2 macrumors 6502


    Oct 12, 2008
    You situation it's very interesting

    The hardware implementation is not the hard part, just get a NAS or DYI NAS you are good to go, but there are issues you need to address:

    a - Internet connection of individual.
    Typical DL @ 20Mb/s and UL @ 2Mb connection.
    Meaning for 1GB file to UP LOAD to the server about 2hrs

    b - Internet connection of Library (NAS) need to have a high UL speed
    So it has the bandwidth to feed the DLoad

    c - If you data is sensitive, the FTP is pretty bad, at least you have to use SFTP or VPN
    FTP protocol, stranger can get your log in info so be careful with it

    Plan B: Or simple use UPS/FedEx/POSTAL as your sneaker net

    Send all the file in a 2.5 In HDD/DVD

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