Home network- please tell me wired network and Snow Leopard Server not necessary!

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by maccatmac, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. maccatmac macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2011
    Greetings all,

    I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction. We've a MacBook, a MacBookPro and and iMac, all running the latest OS on a wireless network at home. My other half and I are trying to set up a sort of network as we occasionally work on the same files at home and at the moment have a constant battle trying either to remember who worked on the file last or even which computer they used. Obviously the perfect solution would be to have a dedicated server with ethernet ports scattered around the house, but this seems over-kill based on how little we would need it.

    We had the iMac on all the time as a shared (across wireless) network drive, but found this a little slow so ended up copying files to the local machine which brought us back to the above problem if we forgot to copy back when we were finished.

    Is there an option with minimal outlay? I was wondering if there was syncing software at least that could recognise which file was the latest and do a daily sync?? (I have SynkPro but only use it for my machine)

    We also would ideally like a central repository for music, photos, movies and books and end up with just one machine to back up regularly. At the moment we have no central storage for our photos for example (which is kind of pathetic really!).

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions. I know this is a bit vague but hoping you can follow.
  2. thankins macrumors 6502

    Oct 25, 2007

    DropBox with Selective Sync. Pay the 100 dollar year charge and you get 50 GBs which is probably more than enough for what you are trying to accomplish.

    Install the app on each machine and forget about. They are always in sync and you can use selective sync to only sync the data you need.

    Plus it also acts as an offsite backup.
  3. jtara macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2009
    No, you don't need a wired network, though it's nice to have for high-speed transfers.

    Get a Drobo or other dedicated file-sharing box. Or if your WiFi router has a USB port it probably supports connecting a USB hard drive and has file-sharing support. The file-sharing support is probably SMB (Windows networking) but that will still work with your Macs. If you want proper AFP support, you can install it with third-party firmware on your WiFi router (like OpenWRT) but the setup might be too techie.

    DropBox seems kinda silly for this. You'd be unnecessarily sending your data out "into the cloud". Not the right way to sync local machines. "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." DropBox is an over-used hammer. It could take days or even weeks to get all your data up to DropBox, depending on connection speed and amount of data. Cloud storage doesn't really make a lot of sense yet for large media collections.

    Look at CrashPlan for backup. There's a free version that will let you back-up locally or even over the internet to a friend's computer. For a nominal fee you can also back-up to their servers and gain a bunch of features with the "plus" version of the software.
  4. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    What type of files are you sharing. If it photos or video a wireed network would be faster. If it is text files (word, excell. etc) then wireless is fine. You may want to look into a NAS to add to your network, it may be a bit faster that plugging into your router but that does depend on your router.
  5. maccatmac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 13, 2011
    Many thanks for the replies. I did think of Dropbox first, but I'd prefer to have my main data locally. There have been occasions where the internet was down or slow recently, and I'm not sold on the cloud just yet. I worked in an office where the internet was down for 10 days (!) during bad weather last winter, and the techs couldn't get to the satellite dish on the roof to fix it.

    Drobo looks very interesting - the concept is perfect but it seems a bit pricey? My first thoughts were that you could buy a mac mini for that! We'd be looking at the cheapest one if possible, but I think this one is the one we need - from what I read I think the other doesn't have wifi. The website is a bit confusing as there are so many options but will investigate some more! There is a price markup when you buy here in Ireland - about an extra $200 odd so it does seem expensive. I do like the plug and play aspect though.

    The files are mostly drawings, so they are a decent size. I think that's probably why we found the iMac as shared server a little slow.

    Our router doesn't have a USB port unfortunately, just the extra ethernet ports. We could look into getting one that has one, or is it possible to connect a HD by ethernet? I'm guessing it would have to be a computer, if possible at all. The router is a standard one given by the cable company. We do have an old Airport Express, but I haven't used it as it's from 2003 and I suspect it would slow down the network considerably!

    Crash plan looks interesting - I don't mind having a back up in the cloud alright. Off site back ups are essential and we don't have one at the moment.

    As I said, thank you all for the replies, much appreciated for a newbie (though my original join date was Dec 2003! Password long forgotten and I no longer have access to the email I joined with. Was mostly a lurker anyway) Please keep any other suggestions or info coming.
  6. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    Well you certainly don't need SL Server. The basic OS should be more than fine for what you want to do. If you were satisfied with the iMac serving up files and (I'll make an assumption here- digitized content via iTunes Home Sharing) except for the speed then I would recommend wiring the iMac up to the router via Ethernet. You mentioned it was on all the time anyway, so that is an easy answer. The speed to the switch (what are you running there?) will be at least 100 Base-T. Maybe 1000. Doesn't matter, because the bottleneck is going to be the wireless connection to your other devices which will be slower unless you have an 802.11n device literally sitting on top of the wireless router.

    That's what I would do (I did do that). Running the wire is sometimes challenging, but in this case it is just one cat5e line. It's also the cheapest solution. The iMac isn't moving, so wiring it up isn't a problem. And you can get 100 ft of wire and two punch down wall plates for about $40 at Home Depot.

    Good luck!
  7. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    I don't disagree with your thesis, but wanted to point out a few things.

    First, Fropbox is smart enough to sync files from other machines on your LAN preferentially. So, in many cases you don't actually get your data from the cloud. This hammer is overused because it works extremely well.

    Second, even though you don't need a wired network, your server should be wired. Otherwise, what ends up happening is that the available wireless bandwidth is halved. Half is being used by the connection from the Client to the router/WAP and half for the connection from the router/WAP to the server. In many cases wiring up the server can essentially double throughput for this reason. (Edit: paduck was implying as much as well. Colocate the server and router/WAP or run wire between them.)

  8. mrbash, Jun 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011

    mrbash macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2008
  9. karthi macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2006
    My Book World if cloud storage is not needed.

    I have the Mybook world edition, and I use it a lot for sharing data among the machines. It is auto discovered in mac and easily accessible in windows as well.

    It also has iTunes Music server, so all music you put in there is available in all iTunes. It also allows easy time machine integration.

    With wired connection, I get around 1GB/minute practical speed for write and little more during read. 70GB data transfer took little over an hour. I have not tested with wireless, I can try this week end.

    I also use it for time machine backup. I do use use iDisk for cloud storage, but that is very slow, due to the slower upload speeds with the internet provider.
  10. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    Exactly, if there are computers synced with a Dropbox account on the same local network (i.e. same wifi connection) it sync over the router and not send your data out to the cloud (i.e. internet). Thus your syncs happen much faster and more rapidly.
    See here (LAN Sync)

    You definitely do not need a server, and you definitely do not SL Server. A wired network would be nice, but WiFi N protocol is pretty darn fast (and G too).

    At the end of the day it sounds like you need simplicity to be integrated in your solution and I cannot find any fault with Dropbox taking care of this for you.

    Dropbox +1

    EDIT: If you did want to get more technical than Dropbox then look into a NAS enclosure that plugs right into your router. This will basically be your own local cloud.
  11. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    If speed is at all a concern, don't use DropBox. It isn't particularly fast. That's why I recommended wired above. If you are moving media files, that's what you are going to want your "server" doing.

    DropBox is a good tool, but not when you are serving up content. It isn't really appropriate for that.

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