MacPro or MacMini as a server for single MYSQL and PHP enabled web site?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by hakodate, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. hakodate macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Location:
    Japan
    #1
    Hello,

    I need a 'server' to run a single MYSQL and PHP enabled web site. The maximum number of concurrent users for this site is about 250. Here in Japan the financial year is coming to an end so I have to make a decision by the end of March.

    For the last five years I have been using a MacPro (2006/7 3.0 GHz Dual-core Intel Xeon, 6GB memory, Four 1TB hard drives) with the standard client OS X software (i.e. not the server software) to run the MYSQL and PHP enabled web site. This MacPro has been running fine as a 'server', however I feel it's time to get a new machine before things start going wrong.

    So, I have until the end of March to buy:

    1) 2010 MacPro Server: 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor, 8GB memory, Four 1TB hard drives, with a Mac Pro RAID Card
    OR
    2) 2011 MacMini Server: 2.0GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7, 8GB memory, Two 256GB Solid State Drives, with a Promise Pegasus R4 4TB (4x1TB) RAID System

    My budget will cover the more expensive but older MacPro, but the MacMini option will save me about $600.

    Assuming that the elusive '2012 MacPro' is not released before April 1st, which would you choose, the 2010 MacPro server or the 2011 MacMini server, and why?

    Or, given my requirements (a server for a single MYSQL and PHP enabled web site with a max of 250 concurrent users), which machine and specifications would you suggest? For example, since I don't really need the server software, perhaps a MacPro with a faster CPU and the client OS would be better? Any suggestions will be most welcome.
     
  2. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #2
    A Mac Pro would be fine, but you don't need four drives and RAID. That's overkill. MySQL will cache a lot of the database in RAM.
     
  3. Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    #3
    The MacPro will use significantly more power (which might be relevant for a 24/7 operation) and use up more space (if that is an issue for you). Being in I could imagine it'd be easier to place the mini somewhere in a constrained flat.

    The SSD option will make the mini much more responsive (could be noticeable in a server setting with many concurrent requests). Of course you can add a SSD to the MP as well, though at the expense of increasing the cost difference between both options.

    The Pegasus will be quite noisy according to various reports (as may be the mini under heavy load), whereas the MP will stay unimpressed most of the time - depending on where you will place it, it may be an issue over time.

    If MySQL would be able to make good use of more than 8GB Ram (have no expertise in this area), that may be a Plus for the MP option.



    Unfortunately you did not say anything about your usage besides the server operation, so it's hard to tell whether the option of having a good graphic card would be an advantage for the MP or not.
     
  4. orekyo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    #4
    My two cents

    Given the two options you are considering, I would choose the second because it is more modular. You can re-use most of it if you decide to upgrade to a Pro at a later date. You could also add a second mac mini at a later date and spread the processing load across 8 cpu's if you needed to, using something like DNS Round Robin, or something that achieved the same result for your web app.

    Mac Pro's are really better as super-power workstations than as servers. You should design server-based solutions to share the load over multiple inexpensive components. This type of distributed architecture allows scalable and fault tolerant designs.

    You might also want to consider keeping your existing machine and spreading the load with another machine.

    Sorry for the jargon but I'm short on time.

    JB
     
  5. Angelo95210 macrumors 6502a

    Angelo95210

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    Paris, France
    #5
    For me server means mirrored drives with RAID in case of failure and easy replacable components to operate safely 24/7 during years...
     
  6. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #6
    OP is kind of ambiguous in this respect. If it's just for backing up, software RAID with two drives would probably do the job.

    Also ambiguity here. How big is the database? If it's not that big, it could probably fit entirely in RAM.
     
  7. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    #7
    I agree. Saddly, Apple doesn't sell a server anymore.

    The Mac Pro does not come with redundant power supplies or hot swappable drives. Downtime will be required.
     
  8. gglockner macrumors 6502

    gglockner

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Bellevue, WA
    #8
    For my money, I'd get an Intel box and run Linux. I love my Mac, but I find that Linux is a better platform for running a LAMP server. For example, if you need another Apache module or a PHP extension, it's easy to add those in Linux, but a bother on Mac OS X.

    That said, for the number of users you are describing, a Mac Mini (or equivalent Linux machine) should be more than enough.
     
  9. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    #9
    I recently had quite the time setting up a MySQL/PHP web portal for program I was trying to install. It was quite difficult on a Mac for someone with only decent experience with MySQL/web servers, but do able. It certainly helped being very comfortable with Unix.

    So I have to agree, after going through that, and talking to other users, it was a much easier task on Linux.
     
  10. hakodate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Location:
    Japan
    #10
    Thanks goMac for your reply. The reason why I'm thinking of a RAID card and 4 drives is so that I can have a RAID 5 (or perhaps RAID 0+1), which according to Apple will give me "Data protection, high performance, and efficient capacity utilization". I will of course also have an external drive as a backup device.
     
  11. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #11
    Why do you need that much "Data protection, high performance, and efficient capacity utilization"?

    (If you're already backing up to an external, you most likely only need one drive and no RAID.)
     
  12. hakodate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Location:
    Japan
    #12
    Thank you Neodym for your reply.

    Yes, as a 'server' it will be on 24/7 so power consumption is an important consideration. As is space, the server will be in my small office.

    That's my thinking too. Having two SSDs in a MacMini would be extravagant, but the plan would be to have one as a clone of the 'master' SSD perhaps using SuperDuper. So if the 'master' SSD fails, I can just switch to the backup drive.

    Yes, a small office, so a consideration of noise this is important. Even the 'old' MacPro that I have now is very quiet, the fan rarely comes on.

    I will only be using the MacPro or MacMini as a server, no other usage, so graphic cards are not an issue.

    The machine will run as a server for an AMP web site for 1000 or so students (max concurrent usage = 250 people), so 24/7 access is important, as is data security (i.e. I can't afford to lose any data).
     
  13. hakodate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Location:
    Japan
    #13
    orekyo, thanks for your reply:

    Good thinking. The modular approach makes sense, and with Thunderbolt on the MacMini there will be even more modular options in the future.

    And that is important for my 'mission critical' server.

    I'll definitely keep it as a spare, but yes it makes more sense to actually use it.

    ----------

    The MySQL databse is about 2GB and rising slowly. i.e. I don't expect it to go above 4 GB within the next year or two.

    ----------

    Thanks minifridge1138 for your comment:

    Yes, very true. And true too for the MacMini server. Fortunately, although it will be a server accessed by up to 1000 students, I can afford to have some downtime: a few hours on a weekend and a few days during holidays.
     
  14. hakodate thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 1, 2012
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    Japan
    #14
    This is where my limited knowledge of RAIDs becomes apparent. My understanding is that a with a mirrored RAID, even if one drive fails, the other drives will continue running; the web site will still be online.
     
  15. hakodate thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 1, 2012
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    Japan
    #15
    gglockner, thanks for your advice.

    Yes, I know I should learn how to set up a Linux server, and in fact a LAMP set up is recommended for the web site "app" I am using (Moodle) . It's just that I know how to sent up a MAMP server for what I need. If only I had more time to learn Linux. And you're right about the PHP extensions; I've been working out how to install the intl extension into a Mac server, but no luck yet.
     
  16. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    #16
    I personally wouldn't go with either of the options you listed, I'd go with the Linux setup.

    But out of what you listed, I'd go with the Mac Pro.
    Not because of performance or expandability, but simply for reliability.

    The 2006 computer you're replacing is 6 years old. 6. Years. Old.
    That's really old in computer years (they age worse than dogs).
    And you're not replacing it because it failed or isn't keeping up with your traffic.
    You're replacing it because you're afraid it won't last.

    Sure the mini could still be running in 6 years. But I'd think the Pro will outlast the mini.

    I'd also find a less critical role for the 2006 and put it to good use.
     
  17. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #17
    Yes, but...

    1) OS X can do RAID without the card.
    2) Four drives is a bit excessive. You'll have to power down the machine anyway to replace the bad drive.
     
  18. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #18
    very skewed

    I have had Mac Pro, use also iMac and Mac Mini and Mac Mini Server.

    Neither the Mac Mini or the Mac Pro are your best bets though both can do the job. Someone else suggested a Linux box which makes far more sense.

    As for RAID - if you go with the Mac Pro, don't buy Apple Hardware Raid card. It is not the best and certainly not the cheapest. There are better options out there. Mac Pro offers the opportunity for additional cards that can help with reducing bottlenecks and that goes a long way with respect to ethernet cards, specialized raid cards, cards that hold sad drives and more. - You get a very flexible system for true 24/7 server usage.

    Mac Mini is very limited and Thunderbolt is not the end all. In fact it is just lame where expense goes for Pegasus and other external devices. I use a Mac Mini Server and before getting started, loaded it with 16 gigs of RAM. The limited on board video is really (for me) not much of a problem, even when running Photoshop. If you opt for SSD drives, consider OWC's 6G drives that come with 5 year warrantee. Getting in and out of a Mac Mini is no easy chore but doable.

    In your shoes, I would go for the Mac Pro if you must use Mac. The options are vast and the Mac Pros are darn solid machines. Just remember, as mentioned, there is no power supply redundancy. 01 Raid can be done with a n addition of a card and you can go beyond 1tb drives. Also , you can load up far more RAM into a Mac Pro which does make a difference with certain apps.


    A nicely equipped Mac Pro might be as follow
    low end video card (no graphics monster needed)
    RAID CARD 4 drives 01 RAID
    4 hard drives
    use of both ethernet ports for fail over or A/B set up whereby A would be for your SQL users and B would be for any maintenance etc.
    Bonus items might include SSD based PCIe cards.
     
  19. phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA USA
    #19
    Next time use XAMPP. It automates the whole Apache/PHP/MySQL install on OS X. You'll be up and running in no time.
     
  20. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    #20
    I'll have to try to remember that. Thanks for the tip.
     
  21. phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA USA
    #21
    You are welcome. Trust me, I spent many hours banging my head against the wall before I discovered it myself. :)
     
  22. hakodate thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2012
    Location:
    Japan
    #22
    XAMPP is good for development but note that on the XAMPP web site it says:

    quoted from: http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp-macosx.html#873
     

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