Mac Pro file server

Project Alice

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
885
527
Post Falls, ID
I wasn't totally sure where I should post this. It's probably better suited to r/datahoarding, but since this is a mac question I figure it can go here.

I have a 2008 Mac Pro currently on Mojave, that I will be upgrading with four 4TB HDDs. It will serve the same purpose it does now, being a plex media server. It will also be my main file server since there will be room for the rest of my stuff (right now there's barely room for my plex stuff, and my files are scattered amongst my 5,1 Mac Pro and PowerPC macs).
Here's the question:
I'm trying to decide what OS and FS I want to use. I'm debating on using FreeBSD with ZFS, or just stay on Mojave. If I stay on Mojave, would openZFS be a stable and solid solution over APFS or HFS+? I like APFS, but I don't how it fairs with huge HDDs like this.
 

cmaier

macrumors P6
Jul 25, 2007
15,227
10,402
California
I wasn't totally sure where I should post this. It's probably better suited to r/datahoarding, but since this is a mac question I figure it can go here.

I have a 2008 Mac Pro currently on Mojave, that I will be upgrading with four 4TB HDDs. It will serve the same purpose it does now, being a plex media server. It will also be my main file server since there will be room for the rest of my stuff (right now there's barely room for my plex stuff, and my files are scattered amongst my 5,1 Mac Pro and PowerPC macs).
Here's the question:
I'm trying to decide what OS and FS I want to use. I'm debating on using FreeBSD with ZFS, or just stay on Mojave. If I stay on Mojave, would openZFS be a stable and solid solution over APFS or HFS+? I like APFS, but I don't how it fairs with huge HDDs like this.
APFS is fine for 4TB drives. Those aren’t exactly huge.
 

nicho

macrumors 68030
Feb 15, 2008
2,904
1,420

cmaier

macrumors P6
Jul 25, 2007
15,227
10,402
California
Bombich (makers of CCC) found significant performance issues with even 2TB drives, split into 1TB partitions - https://bombich.com/blog/2019/09/12/analysis-apfs-enumeration-performance-on-rotational-hard-drives

That said... although an SSD would be preferable for the startup disk, there shouldn't really be any other issues with serving media besides additional noise.
That was with file enumeration, which is only one factor in disk performance, and not likely to be a big issue in the usage scenario you are describing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nicho

Project Alice

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 13, 2008
885
527
Post Falls, ID
Bombich (makers of CCC) found significant performance issues with even 2TB drives, split into 1TB partitions - https://bombich.com/blog/2019/09/12/analysis-apfs-enumeration-performance-on-rotational-hard-drives

That said... although an SSD would be preferable for the startup disk, there shouldn't really be any other issues with serving media besides additional noise.
An SSD will be the startup disk regardless of which OS I go with. There will be one in the optical bay. I won't be booting from any of my 4TB drives.
APFS is fine for 4TB drives. Those aren’t exactly huge.
They are compared to the average disk being used in most people's macs. 1TB is pretty standard nowadays I'd say. I'd stick bigger ones in there but they are a bit more costly than I'd like to spend, and being as this is my Mac Pro 2008 3,1 which uses the older drive sleds, I can't find any of the modified drive sleds that fit the annoying new mounting points of drives larger than 4TB. They're readily available for the 4,1/5,1s. Which is fine because 16TB is fine, and if I want any larger disk I could just stick one in my 5,1.

I wouldn't mind having some type of parity which is why ZFS is appealing. And if I use FreeBSD I won't have to worry about re-patching the system every time there's an update (this is an "unsupported" Mac Pro, after all). It might be overkill, but I don't plan on getting rid of the system anytime soon. And I'm not sure how many more Macos versions we'll be able to force onto these older systems after Catalina. If I stay on Mojave that has maybe 3 years of support left, where FreeBSD will literally run on anything, and be supported a lot longer. Mac OS isn't meant to be used as a server OS anymore unfortunately. And it needs to be on a secure OS because Plex can be used anywhere, including outside my network.
 

wardie

macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2008
386
130
I’ve got one of the same vintage MP’s. I thought about using it as a general file/media server, as the 4 disk bay is great as a NAS (I have a blade SSD PCI card for boot). However I suggest you look at the 24x7 power consumption as mine is well over 100W even with the monitor off (dual Xeon CPUs). Over a long period that works out at a heavy electricity bill. In the end I opted to instead upgrade my Mac Mini server to a refurb 2018 model and that works fine and uses a ton less electricity. Up to you of course if you care about that OP!
 
  • Like
Reactions: dimme and nicho