mac mini server or mac pro for small office?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by shoeshine, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. shoeshine macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2010
    Hi there.

    I am about to replace a first generation G5 tower that is running our office file server and i am trying to figure out if it make more sense to go with a base model mac pro, or try out the mac mini server. The g5 we use does not run server software, only 10.3 client. it uses the stock drive at the startup drive and an additional drive in the 2nd bay for files themselves, which get backed up to an external.

    Here's the rundown of usage:
    -The file server runs filemaker server with two databases that get used by 7 clients in the office (though RARELY) more than 2-3 people on a database at once.
    -File serving is primarily for word and excel docs, with some very light design stuff (small indesign or illustrator files, and photoshop files of no more than 50-75mb MAX, and again, no more than 2 people at once accessing design files)
    -retrospect server backing up the seven clients across the network onto a FW800 drive.

    And that's about it currently. I think after upgrade, we would start to use a centralized ical with the server software, and maybe address book.

    So, i'm wondering if people think a mac pro is overkill? I like the idea of four drive bays for all the file sharing/backups that need to happen without having to deal with any externals. BUT i like the idea of saving money and space on the mac mini, and getting SL server thrown in with the deal. We might not throw in for SL server if it is a separate buy.

    It seems to me that the mac mini would be more than enough of a machine to deal with these basic office needs, but would mean attaching external storage to it. We'd use the internal drive on the mini as the startup disk, back up the startup disk to the second internal, and run all file sharing off a FW800 connected drobo or promise smartstor.

    Would we notice a significant difference in these basic file sharing duties between the two machines?
  2. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    Coming from a 10.3 era machine, both would be a "speed improvement".

    Remember though, that the mini server isn't as easy to get into, so if something (say a hard drive) breaks, you're more SOL than if you had a mac pro.

    Personally, I would look at a refurbished mac pro on Apple's website. That's probably your best bet (IMO).
  3. Cool Runnings macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2010
  4. AlmostThere macrumors 6502a

    Out of interest, what part of the server is maxed out / what is driving the upgrade?

    I would probably go for the mini - it was pretty much designed for the usage you are describing plus as a system sold pre-configured with OS X Server you can expect support for "server administration and network management issues" if you go get Apple Care.

    Also, you can get two minis for the price of the pro, so you can keep one in the cupboard as a spare ;)

    Btw, you might consider skipping running your own calendar server and buy Google Apps - having tried both in our office, Google is way easier to manage, more flexible (you can still use iCal and Mail) and more reliable.
  5. shoeshine thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2010
    well, the upgrade is mostly just due to the fact that we have a small chunk of money to buy some new machines for the office, and the server is just one of those machines "due for an upgrade" even though yes, in some ways it isn't exactly broken, or not doing its job. I had originally intended to buy a mac pro, but then started thinking the mac mini server would make more sense, and save enough money to upgrade other things in the office setup.

    I'd like to get our server actually running a server OS, as even if its not entirely used right now, leaves open some room for expanding how we use the server. Since our current machine is PPC G5, it seemed to make more sense to get a whole new unit running SL Server than find a way to have that old machine run Leopard Server.

    I know the accessibility of the insides of the mac mini are more of a pain, but honestly, our file server is neither super high traffic, nor mission critical, and having the thing go out for an bit wouldn't be a crisis. having the dual drives in there is comforting enough to me as a hardware failsafe (it seems like mirroring the two is relatively easy?) It also makes it more appealing in a way to have the shared files ON an external device connected to the mini, in that if something were to go wrong with the mini, the files could be accessed just as easy by plugging in the external elsewhere, rather than all living on drives INSIDE a mac pro. does that make sense?

    and yes, i remember now a friend also mentioned that i should look into the google apps route over ical server, and maybe that will be easier for us. thanks for the suggestion!
  6. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
    Looks like you want to get the Mac Mini Server. I say get it, you will save money and space. It has good specs too.
  7. shoeshine thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2010
    yeah, i think the mini is going to be the way to go here, probably with a drobo attached via FW800. Based on comments here, and what i've been reading, it seems perfectly fine for some basic file serving tasks and a few simple server applications and that i would really only notice performance and speed issues if i were in a heavy design/video editing environment, neither of which are the case.

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