How do you manage your family's accounts on multiple macs?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by ACaldwell, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. ACaldwell macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    #1
    Hello-

    We've got 3 mac's (2 MBPs and a mini) and there are 4 of us. The mini is used regularly by both of my kids, sometimes by myself. The laptops are each used 80% of the time by the same person, but sometimes by the rest of the family.

    How do you setup the accounts on these various machines (4 people, 3 machines...12 accounts) to keep them manageable? I got Lion 'server' for the mini, thinking it might help..but so far haven't figured out how it makes this any better.

    I'd like to be able to keep passwords and permissions consistent across all machines, set the kids internet restrictions in one place, etc. Any suggestions for how to do this?
     
  2. pdjudd macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Plymouth, MN
    #2
    Server is going to be your best option but you really need to know what you are doing to make it work properly.
     
  3. ACaldwell thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    #3
    pointers? tips? Can you suggest a guide so I can learn how to make it work properly?
     
  4. pdjudd macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Location:
    Plymouth, MN
    #4
    Apple has some good starting recommendations but nothing is better than a book from Peachpit - they offer the books if you want to be certified. It's not cheap but it is complete and very thorough in it's coverage.
     
  5. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #5
    If you're talking about creating accounts on the Mini Server that are accessed via all the Macs, you're probably not going to like the results. The network accounts won't be accessible if you're not attached to the home network (i.e. when you're at work or school).
     
  6. ACaldwell thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2012
    #6
    yeah - I figured that. Is there no other way to manage accounts? Since the laptops leave the local-network where the mini lives, there's no real option except to have multiple accounts - one per person, per machine. Is there no way to manage a person's accounts across multiple machines coherently, though?
     
  7. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #7
    Not really. It's either a controlled situation or it's not.

    Some consistency for each user between machines can be had by using iCloud (for Lion & above) or Google for email, calendars and contacts. A limited amount of documents can be synced using Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.com or similar or even a combination of those. But for music, video and any other large libraries you've really got to pick your main machine.
     
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    #8
    You should decide how much effort you're willing to spend to meet that 20% of "sometimes by the rest of the family" on the laptops. And not just in setting it up, but keeping the whole thing going. Administration is a long-term commitment.

    If it were me, I'd probably set up one admin account on each laptop, where only I knew the password. Then I'd setup a non-admin acct for the 80% user. This would allow me to manage that user's acct, set parental controls, etc. Finally, I'd setup a "visitor" acct with managed controls, and prohibit the use of iTunes or anything else other than general things like browsing. Let everyone in the household know that password, and use the same password for all machines. Let the visitor acct be used for the 20% times, and since iTunes and other things are prohibited, there's no way anyone can accidentally get music collections and other big things out of sync. You might put other restrictions on which apps the visitor can use, to avoid issues of documents getting tied to visitor, or being uneditable by visitor.

    This still leaves the Mac mini. Create accts for each person on that machine, but again prohibit iTunes for anyone other than the primary user. The purpose is to force a particular machine to be used for those tasks that are best left entirely on one machine. Oh, and setup a good backup system.

    This may or may not work for you, which means you really need to ask yourself how much time you're willing to put into setting up all the accounts and keeping them working. Setup involves some effort, but often it's keeping things working that takes more effort over a longer period of time.

    You also have to consider what happens if you break something while you're learning how to do this admin stuff. As admin, you're responsible for data integrity, backups, software updates, driver updates, etc. It's unclear what your experience is in this area. I can tell you from experience, an inexperienced admin will often do remarkably stupid things, where the stupidity is only self-evident in hindsight.
     

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