Is a MacMini mid 2010 good enough to be a Home Server? (spec-wise)

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by AndrewMRiv, May 11, 2015.

  1. AndrewMRiv, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 13, 2015

    AndrewMRiv macrumors regular


    Oct 29, 2013
    I want to have a Mac Mini as a little home server for me that would do the following:
    • Run the Server app 24/7
    • Have iTunes open 24/7 serving my large library to all of the Macs in the house
    • Collect backups from all of the Macs in the house (Either Time Machine or Carbon Copy)
    • Serve files from an external HDD to all of the Macs in the house

    I am used to having high spec Macs so I was wondering if I would suffer with slow performance with a Mac Mini (mid 2010) with low end specs as my server.

    I have access to buying a Mac Mini with the following specs:
    • Intel Intel Core 2 Duo - 2.40 GHz
    • 320 GB HDD (5400rpm)
    • 4gb RAM

    It will just be serving files but with only 2gb of RAM running the Server App and iTunes, will it lock up a lot?

    With the system drive being on such a slow HDD, will I have a slow experience?

    Should I buy a SSD and more RAM?

    Thank you.

    EDIT: My external storage is the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual (has two 3b 7200rpm HDDs in RAID 0) and has both USB and FW800 so I would be using the FW800 port on the Mac Mini.
  2. dasmb macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2007
    Frankly, that low memory is gonna hurt you bad, and that chipset will make 1080p transcodes very difficult (not that you asked -- this was my experience with the latest OSX on similar hardware).

    That drive is very slow and small, but the OS drive doesn't matter so much. What does matter is that your external device will feel slow and unreliable, especially if connected via USB 2 (rather than FW800). This unreliability will hurt your backup potential (and actually lead to me routing my external drive through an airport via USB rather than FW through the mini).

    My suggestion: I replaced my server with a Netgear ReadyNAS 312 and 2 4 TB drives running in RAID 1 (mirroring). Whole thing cost around $600. Backups are super fast and reliable, streaming audio and video is rock solid and doesn't interrupt backups, and I can transcode pretty much any video to Plex without a hitch. I can add external drives to the Netgear via USB-3 to do cold storage backups or to serve more drives and there are like 4 USB ports on the thing.
  3. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    I think it would work. Later you can think on installing a 120GB SSD on a FW800 enclosure as the system drive. 100MB/s of random reads is way better than any HDD in the market. But I'd give a try on the base spec first. Perhaps it will suit your needs. Also, RAM is a so easy and inexpensive upgrade that wouldn't hurt installing 8GB on it.
  4. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    It would rock a home server. All save the 2GB of RAM. That will create a high memory pressure and constant file swaps. This will have a significant impact on performance.

    Spend a couple of bucks to upgrade the RAM. The specs say you can only go to 8GB, but so did my old MBP 2010 and it took 16GB of RAM without any issues.

    8GB will do wonders for your server, 16GB is probably an overkill ( and may not work ).
  5. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    I had 16gbs of ram in my 2010 Mac Mini Server and it was VERY fast. I liked the sd card slot and the HDMI port on it as well.

    That Mac Mini would be fine. I had the actual 2.66ghz Mac Mini Server (I still have the SL Server Discs for it if you want them) not the 2.4ghz machine but both take 16gbs of ram and are very good machines.
  6. AndrewMRiv thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 29, 2013
    Thank you for all of your responses! I made a mistake and the Mac Mini actually has 4gb of RAM.

    Also, I forgot to mention that the External HDD I'm using is the
    OWC Mercury Elite Dual which has two FW800 ports!

    I wouldn't mind swapping out the OS Drive for a SSD in the future but that likely won't be a reason for slow access, right?

    If I upgraded the RAM and used the FW800 port on my MacMini to the external OWC Mercury Elite Dual, would I be in good shape?

    Also, would having the Core2Duo processor affect the performance of transcoding videos? Or is that more reliant on the HDD speed & RAM?

    Since I'm comfortable opening up the Mac Mini to swap out the 320gb HDD with a SSD, would that be a better option for me?

    I think I will take your word on upgrading to 8gb of RAM, though!

    Thank you! I will likely upgrade to 8gb of RAM since 16gb may be overkill for me.
    As for the SL server disks, I may contact you in the future! But for now, I will likely just use Yosemite and run the Server app since I have already purchased it

    I wouldn't mind upgrading to 8gb. I think you are right that 16gb would be overkill.
  7. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I have a similar mini with two drives installed. It runs fine. You will need to upgrade the memory to at least 4 and preferably 8gb. I would not upgrade the internal drive. Money is better spent on good external storage. See if you can find FireWire drives as that will be faster than USB 2. Connect it to your network with a wired connection. My philosophy is to connect anything in a fixed location via Cat5e. WiFi is only used by mobile devices.
  8. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2015
    San Jose, CA
    Wouldn't an internal SSD be faster than any external drive though?
  9. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    It would but it's very hard to fit 8TB in a Mini - the amount of external storage I have on my server. If you're only using it as a server and need lots of space, spinning drives are the cost effective way to go. Boot time? - who cares as it's always on. Program switching? - Everything you need to run is already in memory.

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