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macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 18, 2017
Hi everyone!

At my job we have an old Mac Pro 3,1 that has been used for years and year. Its primary function is to act as a server I can dial in from a different computer on the same network. The Mac Pro has about 4 drives, one is the main drive we use to hold the media our company produces. At one point we had Mountain Lion Server installed with a VPN setup in order to access the iMac and server from anywhere outside the office.

I've run into two issues now:

1.) The drive that holds media is almost completely filled (about 4TBs)
2.) Apple did an update that prevents Mountain Lion Server from being able to be used anymore.

I wanted to purchase NAS, but I don't think my company is interested in spending much money. So, the second best option would be just to do a full repurpose of the machine with bigger hard drives that will house everything necessary the company needs.

Now, is this a smart idea? If so, what steps are necessary to properly setup the Mac Pro 3,1 to become a VPN/server again? Should I look through the guides that say how to install Sierra? Do I need a new video card? I need to layout a full plan to my employers to show them what is necessary and why it's necessary.

Thanks in advance!


macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
The Peninsula
Now, is this a smart idea?
Probably not.

The MP is big, hot, and old.

Since you're talking about new disks, look at a new NAS box. Many of them are very cheap without disks - and because you're talking about buying disks anyway, you only need to look at the diskless price. (And look to see if a bundle with disks is cheaper that diskless plus separate disks.)

For VPN - routers/gateways with VPN are very reasonable, and easy to maintain/configure.

Instead of trying to fit the square old Mac Pro into two different round holes, buy a couple of purpose built appliances to do NAS and VPN respectively.


macrumors 6502
Feb 13, 2008
The highest supported OS officially supported on the 3,1 is El Capitan. There are ways to install the newer MacOS Sierra, I have done it and it runs fine on my 3,1. But I'm not sure you'd really want to mess around with that in a production environment.

Therefore upgrade/install OS X El Capitan, and have a look on the App store, hopefully OS X server version for El Cap will still be listed on there. Once installed you will then be able to setup your VPN.

Regarding the drives, 4TB drives are fairly cheap these days. The only issue you might have is if you want to RAID your drives. The Disk Utility in El Cap has this feature removed. So you'd have to do it from Terminal:

Or use software such as SoftRAID:

Doing all this would obviously require downtime and testing. The Mac is also no longer supported so what happens if a component fails, can your company afford the downtime and potential loss of data?

Therefore unless the budget is really tight do as others have said, perhaps look at a dedicated NAS or VPN enabled router. Less fuss and a warranty in case stuff breaks.


macrumors 68000
Dec 12, 2005
make shore you have backups ;) too as it's time to upgrade make shore data is safe.
you can always make a cheep server with an i3 cpu that's a cheep option too.

ps the 3.1 has 2 extra esata cables on the mobo if you need more drives and the option of drives on PCI cards tooo
but the hardware is old and the PSU too so thats a thing.

you can upgrade the os with a hack but when your talking a work environment where the company is relaying on the server to work i have mixed feelings about using unsupported hardware but also using a new OS may also bring better security :confused:

AidenShaw knows his stuff and Raymanster's advice is to the point and backups backups backups, what happens when everything melts or a disc dies (or even some kind of ransomware hits, no one wants backups till after you need them)
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