Networking and multiple Macs

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by bdphifer, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. bdphifer macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    #1
    I need some help with Mac networking. I have an iMac (21.5” Mid 2011, 2.5 ghz Core i5, 20 GB of memory, 500 GB HD) and I love it. I have separate users for everyone in the family, easy parental controls for the kids, etc. I have a bunch of data that used to have on a WHS 2011 and moved to a WD MyCloud 3T NAS Hard Drive. I am returning the MyCloud, because it is horrible (slow speed, drive going to ‘sleep’ causing disconnections, etc.) I have moved the data on the MyCloud to a 3T hard drive that I will attach to the iMac for the time being.

    My issue is with expanding the network with a second machine; I would like to get a second mac (either a mini or an iMac.) for my kids and I to share. I would like to have our storage centralized, and be able to have it set up so that each user can sign up onto either machine (and future additions) and have the same setup be there. I’d like to do this for both the storage, and with the kids, being able to change or make additions to their restrictions or applications once and have it be available on both machines.

    Do I need to get a third machine, such as a mini to work as a server? Can I store all of the user information on the server so that when a user signs in on either machine, their info is all there? Could I also use a third machine as a Media Server for a TV, instead of an Apple TV? I would like to stay with Mac, since we are largely a Mac/iOS family. Wife and I have iPhones, the kids each have an iPod, I have an iPad and I have 2 Apple TVs with the intention of getting a third when I upgrade our bedroom’s TV in the near future.

    If I buy a ‘server’, I can put all of the storage there, thus eliminating my need for a NAS? I like the idea of a server vs. a NAS, largely because the MyCloud has turned me off to them, despite the great reviews I have seen for products like the Synology Drives. I am also using CrashPlan for my backup, and I don’t think I can use that with a NAS. My thought with the server is to have the computers use Time Machine back to the server and have all of that back up to CrashPlan, giving me double coverage on backup.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!!
     
  2. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #2
    You have a lot of options available. A dedicated server always works better since you don't have to worry about someone else rebooting the machine or screwing around with it. Just about any Mini that can run Mavericks will do well as a server. I would check on Craigslist or other places for a used one.

    Once you have a server, lots of storage can be attached and used for a variety of uses including time machine, media storage, and user files. I have a 2011 Mini with 2x500GB internally and a 4TB and 2TB drive attached via FireWire. A bit more involved for this discussion is the ability to store the user home folder on the server and have them available from any Mac in the house. The server can also run iTunes and serve up your media to the AppleTVs in the house.

    I use CrashPlan (family plan) also and have it backing up certain folders on my server. I do not backup up the time machine folders to CrashPlan. Check your ISP data caps as the CrashPlan backups can use a lot of data if you're backing up media files. I have over 1TB in movies and music. I had to set CrashPlan to back it up slowly over a period of months as Cox limits me to 300GB of data per month.

    When installing a home network I recommend hardwiring anything you can that's in a fixed location. About the only devices in our house that use WiFi are the iPads and iPhones. A single story house with unfinished basement means I can run Cat-6 anywhere I want.
     
  3. bdphifer thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    #3
    Thanks for responding!

    Forgive the Noobie-ness, but what is meant by "A bit more involved for this discussion is the ability to store the user home folder on the server and have them available from any Mac in the house." Is this difficult, or is this something 'included' with OS X server?

    I use CrashPlan also, and like you was not planning to back-up the TimeMachine drive. Just like the TimeMachine for a quick restore if needed instead of having to download a bunch of data. I am on FiOS, and have never had issues with data limits. (If they exist, I will run into them shortly, am in the process of b/u 2.4T of data off my reorganized hard drive!)

    Thanks again!
     
  4. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #4
    The ability to setup home folders on the server is included. It just takes a little more work particularly if you are creating network accounts vs local accounts. This article and some of the links on the page explain more.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    Much of what Glenn mentioned can be accomplished with OS X Server edition. You just add it to your existing Mavs install for $20 from the App Store.

    You will definitely need server edition to use a Mini as a Time Machine destination for example.
     

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