Inexpensive, mac-based server solution.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by I'm a Mac, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. I'm a Mac macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2007
    #1
    I am looking for something to back up my macs and pc's in the house, because external drives can be annoying, especially with time machine, and with pc's these days you can lose your data in an instant. So, I was looking for an inexpensive server solution that I could back up my stuff and possibly use time machine on. I don't really understand how servers work; why people use mac os x server, or remote desktop (maybe someone could explain that to me) but I've heard of connecting hard drives to mac minis.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. Super Macho Man macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

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    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #2
    A used Power Mac G4 can be had for under $200. Add a $30 gigabit card, $100 SATA card, and it can fit 7 or maybe even 8 hard drives if you remove the optical drive. The slow CPU speed is not an issue for simple disk transfers. You can hook it up in a closet with no monitor/keyboard and VNC into it to control it. You probably don't need OS X Server - that is more useful to manage larger networks of Macs, in e.g. businesses and schools.
     
  3. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #3
    How many systems do you want to back up? Are they all wired/wireless/mix?

    How much do you need to backup?

    What's the networking like in your house? Unless you have Gigabit or better speeds, you'll wait forever for backups over 100Mbps or slower nets.

    With readily available long Firewire 800 cables, why not just get a big external for the iMac and keep the disk far enough away you don't hear it?
     
  4. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2007
    #4
    I have an imac, and two pc laptops that would be backed up in the home network, I also have two apple laptops in my family, but they are not in the home network. I don't know if it is possible to back them up, though. I think I have gigibit internet, I have high speed, but I don't know how to tell. Each of these computers have both wired and wireless internet connections.
     
  5. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
    #5
    That's what I would suggest. I am running a PowerMac Dual G4 with a few terabytes of storage as a headless server on gigabit ethernet network.

    If you don't know if you have gigabit or not, you probably don't have it. However, if you can do it yourself, gigabit ethernet for an average house will cost around $100 in material, you'll need to get a couple of gigabit ethernet switches (usually $40, as low as $20 after rebate each), you'll be all set.
     
  6. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    How would I know if I have gibabit internet? I think I do, I could check my modem and router. My internet speed is 30 mbps/s Also, could I use time machine with the g4 solution?
     
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Andover, MA
    #7
    Since you have both PCs and Macs, it might not be a great idea to try to back them all up to one system. At the very least, I'd get a dedicated drive for each.

    Time Machine depends on the OS you're backing up from, and the scripts here apparently allow you to backup to a network drive, so you'll be OK with the iMac. I'm not sure what PC solution you'll use.

    You might want to look into something like this or some other network drive, which might end up being cheaper overall.
     
  8. bakechad macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    #8
    Not a Mac based solution, but I can't say enough good things about freenas:

    http://www.freenas.org/

    It is a bootable CD that runs a freebsd based file server with a web based interface. It allows you to setup Windows shares, Apple Shares, NFS Shares, FTP, etc. I am running using a motherboard & processor I picked up for $12. Very easy to setup and best of all it is free!
     
  9. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2007
    #9
    Why do you say that?
     
  10. Mal macrumors 603

    Mal

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    Location:
    Orlando
    #10
    BTW, it's not gigabit internet, it's gigabit ethernet. It's a reference to the speed of the ports on the computer, not your internet connection.

    A server with 2 large drives (one for Mac, one for PC), and backup software on each computer is your best solution, though it will take some tech savvy to set it up correctly.

    jW
     
  11. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    how does one set up a server of that sort?

    how to log in, or any necessary software?
     
  12. Mal macrumors 603

    Mal

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    Location:
    Orlando
    #12
    Either install OS X and activate the Mac and Windows File Sharing, or install some sort of Linux system and do essentially the same thing in a more difficult but possibly more robust way. Then you'll mount the drives over the network from each box to set up your backups. Someone else may be able to suggest specific backup software, but keep in mind that Time Machine doesn't support network backups without some tweaking, and even then not very well, so you're probably looking at installing other backup software on each computer.

    jW
     
  13. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    Jan 3, 2008
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    Liverpool, UK
    #13
    The cheapest server option would definately be a 2nd user G4 tower. Not sure how you'd set it up as a file server for both Mac and Windows though.

    Would like to know how to do this though as it sounds like something I could find very useful
     
  14. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #14
    OS X and Windows pretty much just meet in the middle with the FAT32 drive format, which really isn't optimal for either OS.

    With two drives, OS X can use Mac OS Extended, and Windows can use NTFS (or whatever), and both will be happier.
     
  15. aiterum macrumors 6502

    aiterum

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    #15
    heh you used "mac" and inexpensive in the same sentence
     
  16. rpmasson macrumors newbie

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    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    #16
    Check out network attached storage (NAS)

    I've been fooling with a couple of HP NAS devices. While they're mostly geared toward Windows, most of the features are accessible via file sharing.

    See www.hp.com/go/mediasmartserver and www.hp.com/mediavault
    Basically household backup for dummies - works pretty well!

    I'd recommend the latter if you don't have any PCs in the house
    Bobski
     
  17. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    #17
    Possible Solution

    Right, after extensive research, I have found that Microsoft may be the solution.

    Basically, Microsoft have made a simplified version of Windows 2003 Server called Windows Home Server Link here.

    Windows Home Server also has a small application for each PC which synchronises your backups, etc, but in addition, it can be used as a back end for Apples time machine, and can be accessed as any Windows Shared folder can be through a Mac.
     
  18. Fleetwood Mac macrumors 65816

    Fleetwood Mac

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    #18
    You may be able to work something else out, but Time Machine will not backup to a Windows machine. You need to backup to connected hard drive or an AFP share.
     
  19. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    #19
    From what I've read online from people that have reviewed Windows Home Server, a Mac sees the Windows Home Server as an external drive and as such it even comes up as a backup drive in Time Machine.

    Please see the following quote taken from here

     
  20. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2007
    #20
    What about connecting a mac mini to a big external (G-RAID?), or multiple externals? Sounds silly, BUT with leopard, and dotmac, I'd be able to remotely access it on my home network using screen sharing, and away using back to my mac?

    Question is, what would transfer speeds be like?
     
  21. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    #21
    Microsoft state that Windows & Mac users will be able to access Windows Home Server networks remotely so this may actually be a possible solution
     
  22. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2007
    #22
    Sounds like a good idea actually... just a little confused about the hardware, someone please correct me if I am wrong.

    It seems like I'm buying a server tower with windows server home edition, and then my pc's will be able to back up to it using xp, and time machine on my mac will recognize it as a disk to back up to. Sounds good. And I'll be able to log on to it remotely from a pc (or mac?) , which is like being able to log on to my mac while using a pc because it has all of my files.

    Sounds like a great idea, just tell me If I understood it correctly

    EDIT: wow... it's inexpensive too. Damn apple, why can't they mac Xserve raid that cheap.
     
  23. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #23
    I think you've got it, and, of course, you'd still be able to log in remotely to your Mac as well.
     
  24. I'm a Mac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 5, 2007
    #24
    Ok, I'd have to figure out how to log in remotely on my mac, but how do I back up using the pc's?
     
  25. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    #25
    Windows Home Server comes with a small application that you would need to install onto each PC and that will automatically send the files to the Home Server.

    Of course, you don't need to specifically buy a server, you can install Windows Home Server on any pc (you could probably get an adequate PC for around £100-£150 then maybe upgrade the hard drive).

    There are conflicting reviews on the net, some saying Time Machine works, some saying Apple have disabled the ability for Time Machine to work. What you could do of course, is back up Time Machine to an external hard drive, then manually copy the contents of that hard drive to Windows Home Server.
     

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