new mac mini server purchase

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ingenue26, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. ingenue26 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2014
    #1
    Dear kind souls,

    I ordered a new mac mini with OS X server over the weekend and am expecting it to be delivered today. Need your expert advice/precautionary areas I should be aware of. This is the configuration of my new mac mini:

    •2.3GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    •256GB Solid State Drive
    •8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB

    I am already running a time capsule (3TB) at home and have a NAS drive (3TB) which I also purchased recently. I use a macbook air as well as a windows 8 lenovo ultrabook for work. My husband (who is not an apple fan) uses windows primarily (he has a PC as well as another lenovo) and my daughter uses her netbook for web-based homework. I have two wireless laser printers (one monotone and one color) connected to my existing network. I am subscribed to a fibre broadband network at home. I also have two ipads and one iphone.

    As you can see, my home network is in a bit of a mess. I hope to 'sort' this network out using the mac mini as the centre of everything. I have added things along the way and things are all over the place. Doesn't help that the things are spread over two storeys.

    I would therefore like to ask for opinions on the best way I should go about making my new mac mini the centre of this 'network universe' at home. I would eventually like to store all my work files as well as some personal items like movies/music onto the NAS storage/time capsules for occasional off-site access.

    At some point within the next two years, we will probably be moving to a smaller place whereby I will then be able to re-organise everything physically but right now, I'm pretty much stuck with the 'physical' locations of things. Thank you for reading and thank you for your advice in advance!
     
  2. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #2
    I've used a Mac mini server for 4+ years now. It basically does what your NAS and TimeCapsule do (other than provide Wifi, for which I've got an Airport Extreme Base Station). So I don't really see what you are attempting to accomplish by adding the mini server. It just seems to me that you are complicating matters.

    See my web page about my history with the Mac mini server and what it does for me here -- http://almy.us/server.html
     
  3. drsox, Oct 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014

    drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #3
    I agree with the previous poster that it's not clear what problem you are trying to solve with the Mini as a server. With a NAS and a TC then there's no need for any central point for your network - in fact most networks don't need a central point, they work by being a network and allowing all the bits to "network" together. Unless you have a specific problem (lack of WiFi signal in some location, very slow access to some devices, drop-out etc) then there's nothing obviously messy about your network. What device is doing the routing ?

    What you could do is to use the Mini as a "compute resource" and have it deal with any heavy duty data activities (as I do). You might also reconfigure your network so that there are several WiFi access points available for WiFi devices to link to. The TC will do this but maybe you will need another AExtreme.

    I struggled to find a server use for my Mini and so I just bought it to be a computer resource. Since then I've also found a use for it as a Media Streamer attached to a TV. (So I didn't buy the server S/W).

    Here's what I have on my network :
    Mac Mini (LAN only)
    2x MacBook Airs (WiFi)
    Ipad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 (WiFi)
    2x Printers (WiFi)
    3 other Media Streamers (LAN only)
    2x NAS units (LAN only)
    5x Smart Switches (LAN)
    3x AExtremes, 1x AExpress (AExtreme is the main router) (WiFi and LAN)
    Surveillance Camera (WiFi)
    USB Server (LAN) with attached USB Scanner, Camera, DVD drives(s), HDD and iPxxx(s) as needed.
    6x unit Sonos system (LAN and WiFi)
     
  4. ColdCase, Oct 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #4

    The mini (with an external hard drive) would replace your NAS and Time Capsule for routine household shared data/file/backup media center use. The mini startup instructions/info will guide you through. Then you can backup the Mini to the Time Capsule (using time machine) and/or NAS (using something like CCC).... or continue to use them as backup destinations for your household devices. I'm not sure what you mean by simplifying your network, as the mini won't do that, but you do have the option of getting get rid of the NAS and TimeCapsule. When I upgraded my network with a mini, I just reused the NAS and TimeCapsule as alternate backup destinations. I set my mac computers to alternate backups between the mini and TimeCapsule. My windoze machines continue to use the NAS for their backup destination, but I configured CCC running on the mini to do a daily clone/backup of the NAS onto one of the mini's external drives.

    What are you using as a router, the TimeCapsule... or something provided by your iSP?
     
  5. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    #5
    i am not sure i agree with the above posters, while they are correct in that it (your new mini) complicates matters this is only initially.... there is a lot you can do with your mini server here are some suggestions...

    1) sell your time capsule and NAS boxes... they run slower than the mini would (replaces these with external USB attached DASs) this way all your backup, file hosting and sharing can be centrally managed with the mini...

    2) the mini can function as a fantastic RADIUS server... this was you can have individual authentication for your WIFI users (WPA2 Enterprise)

    3) i use my mini server to host and backup all the files my wife and i use. So for example we both have our own files folders on our respective laptops... theses are then synced with the mini every 15 minutes (using chronosync) this ways if i need to access her files or she mine i can just log onto the mini share point.... this also happens while not at home... this way our files (not the entire drive just the important, work-related, files get backed up all the time)

    4) i also use the mini to host and share out collective iTunes, and video libraries

    5) i use an app called handy print to enable printing from our iOS devices even though our printers are not AirPrint capable

    6) VPN... this is particularly useful having the ability to connect over VPN to our home network and have access to anything that may be necessary both from a computer as well as a iOS device (File browser is a good app for that for iOS)

    7) finally i use app called PeakHour to track our bandwidth usage so that we don't go over our limit. it uses SMPT v3 and connects to our smart switch monitoring all relevant ports as well as reporting on the WAN port...

    There is so much you can do with you mini server to make it the centre of your computing needs, if you have guests you can used the server to provide them with a separate guess access account so they don't mess with you crap... share contact, and home wikis

    here are some resources which i found to be very helpful:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLP9lCFXVZfRNJx3S2dqM3h0NEZ5Xto2iZ
    (this is not amazing, but it can give you some ideas as to what you can do)

    http://krypted.com/guides/mavericks-server/

    https://www.yesdevnull.net

    Good luck and mainly have fun :D
     
  6. drsox, Oct 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014

    drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #6
    PS, Looking again through the list of stuff that the Server App could do reminded me that DHCP is the one service that I would invest in. The one built into the AEs isn't 100% what I want but the extra amount wasn't enough to get me to install the Server App.

    Now that the Mini has a fixed role in my network maybe I'll revisit this.

    Question for you if you don't mind :

    If the Mini is somewhere inside the LAN how does it cope with initial DHCP requests ? Normally it's the router (just behind the modem) that handles everything. Is it just a matter of turning things back on again in the right order starting with the Mini ?
     
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Location:
    NH
    #7
    The mini server has a bunch of capability and can certainly consolidate the network management...if consolidation is what is meant by simple... but its not going to be all that more simple as all those network serves need to be set up. Once one decides to expand or take advantage of the additional functions the server can provide, its not going to be "simpler" but certainly better performing.


    Oh, use Thunderbolt multibay enclosures instead of USB. TB is not a whole lot more money now days, and much simpler, more reliable, and better performing than USB based bandaids for storage.
     
  8. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #8
    I turn DHCP off on the router. The modem/router is provided by my ISP and only does NAT. The Mac mini server, which is the only enabled DHCP server, is on all the time and has a static IP address. The mini is also the DNS server, with the mini pointing to itself (127.0.0.1) for its DNS requests. Note that I also have an Airport Extreme Base Station which runs in "bridge mode" meaning that it doesn't do DHCP (or NAT translation).
     
  9. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #9
    Thanks. Where topologically is the Mini wrt the router ? Next to it or separated by switches etc or doesn't it matter ?
     
  10. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #10
    The mini, router, AEBS, and the other Ethernet-connected systems all hang off a single 8 port switch.
     

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