Mini as file server only?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by old-wiz, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #1
    I have a 24" iMac, a 13" MBP, and a Mini, all running Snow Leopard. There's also an iBook G4 running Leopard which I still use now and then. My problem is that I can't connect to the iMac for file sharing; it keeps coming up with "Connection failed" and I've done more troubleshooting for it than I want to so I'm looking for an alternate way to be able to access files that I store on the iMac. Strangely enough the iMac can connect to all the other systems with no problems and the other systems can all connect to each other as well. I've spent hours checking configurations on sharing and can't find anything wrong

    I tried using Dropbox, and that would have been a perfect solution except for the fact that one important file that I wanted to share is a Quicken data file, which can NOT be handled by Dropbox (the file gets corrupted, and the Dropbox forum states it's a known issue but no fix is planned). If it had not been for the Quicken data file, Dropbox would have been perfect.

    Now I am looking for alternatives. I'm considering the following options:

    1. Time Capsule - this is really for use via Time Machine and I already have a wireless network that runs fine. Plus the iMac and Mini already have external firewire drives that handle Time Machine just fine. Reviews tell me it's not all that the time capsule is not suitable just for file store. Cost about $300.

    2. Some kind of NAS. I've looked at the different ones, but it seems they don't all support the AFP very well. Some of them require a driver to be installed on the Mac, which I think introduces another option for something to go wrong and which could break with an OSx update. Worse yet, some only allow one system to read and write and others can only read. Cost seems to be anywhere from $400 and up to godawful.

    3.Mac mini with no keyboard, mouse, or display (after setup that is). This would be the easiest to hook up and adding extra storage would be easy. Cost $699. As far as I can tell, once I've setup the system I would not need they keyboard, mouse, or display.

    4. Other options?

    Anyone have suggestions or insights?
     
  2. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #2
    Find the cheapest components and build a really cheap Linux server. Just spend most of your money on the hard drives and maybe backups.
     
  3. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    #3
    I just moved to a Mac Mini from a Linux box for my server, I think it was a giant mistake so far and I am seriously considering selling (it's already listed on CL) the Mini and building another linux box or going BSD for ZFS.

    Reasons:
    1. Adding extra storage is expensive. Multibay enclosures are hundreds of dollars, FW ones such as the Drobo have issues (slow and proprietary RAID), and if you go external SATA then you need to do it all hacky-like. USB2 is way too slow and there is no way to add a USB3 port.
    2. CLI management of the system is near impossible, you need to VNC in which is a giant pain.
    3. Much larger entry fee to go Mac Mini over a self-built system or even something like WHS on a HP Mediasmart or a HP Microserver. I WOULD NOT go with a normal NAS. The Dell Zino HD is like $299, has HDMI out, 2 eSATA ports, etc and the same size as the Mini.
     
  4. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    I used an old Dell PC with Windows XP as a server for many years. If all you want is a file server, an old Windows (or Linux) box will do fine. It is problematic for Time Machine, though. I decided to stop fussing around and went with a Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server. Not the cheapest solution but has been reliable, quiet, and low on power consumption.
     
  5. PurdueGuy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #5
    Which Mini is it, and how much?

    As for remote management, my Mini just shows up inthe Finder sidebar, and I get nearly no lag.

    Also, what are you doing that USB 2.0 is too slow? I realize movig HUGE files around will be slow, but day-to-day, I've found it is plenty adequate.
     
  6. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    #6
    In the sig. $500 shipped, same price I paid for it last week.

    I'm used to maintaining my stuff through SSH and I can't really do that with OSX... VNC drives me insane remotely. Personal choice for me, I guess.

    I move a lot of 720p/1080 stuff around and I don't want to be dealing with ~20-30MB/s on a day to day basis with 50-60gb transfers. That's a smaller issue compared to the cost of a DAS enclosure though. Looking at like $500 for a used Mini (or $700 new) plus $300 for an enclosure. $800, that's a lot of money considering you don't even have disks to fill that enclosure yet. $50 x 4 1TB drives... so looking at $1000 for 4TB (1200 for new Mini) or about $1150 (1350 for new Mini) for 8TB.

    You can toss together a miniATX setup with new parts for like... Half of that. Using old stuff would set you back the price of the HDDs and maybe a PCI SATA card.
     
  7. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Look around on ebay for an old Power Mac and install leopard. It will be less than the Mac Mini and you can add internal drives. Plus it will work with time machine.
     
  8. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #8
    Personal choice, yes, but how often can't you use SSH? I almost always access the (Snow Leopard) server this way to use a command line for rearranging directory structures and changing permissions.

    Yours is probably a special case. For most people a server's files will tend to be mainly static.

    IMHO, the cost isn't so much a factor as the lack of ESATA. The mini also suffers from not being optimized for server use, since it is basically the standard Mac mini with a second hard drive instead of a DVD drive. But if you don't want to cobble a system together from parts or deal with Linux it's a good choice. A low end Dell server with Windows Server OS and 4 1TB drives would run about $2300. My Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server and 3 external drives totaling 5TB was about $1350.
     
  9. old-wiz thread starter macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #9
    The amount of data I want to store on the server is less than 10 gb, so buying extra disks is not necessary. I'm not concerned with time machine since the individual machines , except for the laptop, have external firewire drives that run both time machine and another drive for SuperDuper.
     
  10. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #10
    Then any old Mac will do, and a mini does have a power advantage.

    BTW, I used to have a external drive on each stationary Mac for TimeMachine (and additional drives I'd connect for SuperDuper then take offsite for storage), but with the server system I consolidated all the TimeMachine backups on a single 1.5TB external drive on the server. It's a major reduction in clutter.
     
  11. RedReplicant macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    #11
    For instance, changing the directories that are shared. Just something off the top of my head. I wouldn't know how to go about doing this on OSX, and google is finding me nothing. In linux all I need to do is vim /etc/samba/smb.conf, add a few lines at the bottom, and restart smb.
    Probably pretty true for home users. :)
    Ehhhh. Maybe if you're looking at a true server.

    HP MediaSmart EX495, Windows Home Server w/ Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.5 Ghz 64-bit 2GB DDR2 1.5TB HDD installed (three open bay), 4 USB & 1 eSATA expansion ports , Mac Compatible, TiVO support
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859105563&Tpk=ex495
    Comes with 1.5TB and 3 open bays for $580. Add three 1TB drives for $50 each and that is $730. It has Windows Home Server running on it.


    To be fair, I'm a pretty cheap person.
     
  12. ADent macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    #12
    I love my Mac mini as a home server/HTPC/CrashPlan hub/FrontRow/NAS etc.

    Of course I got mine for a great price then added a 1TB FW400 drive. I have a USB2.0 drive I am going to use to mirror/backup the FW drive.

    I can transfer files faster from the FW400 over the network to another machine than I can from the crappy internal laptop drive to the external FW400.

    It is managed with VNC - which is very snappy over gigabit and preferences set to "adapt quality". As a HTPC I use the Apple Remote and I did get a wireless keyboard/mouse thing, but have used it like once. iPhone makes an OK remote too.

    My problem with most cheap NAS type stuff is it typically only supports SMB/CIFS and limited to Windoze character set. Mini does AFP (and SMB) - no filename problems.
     

Share This Page