New Mini Server Owner - Multiple Use Questions

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by greyhat, Jan 19, 2013.

  1. greyhat macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2013

    Finally registered to hopefully get advice from you all (after years of Googlurking these forums for every mac question I've had....)

    So I've just purchased a 2012 mini server, pretty much loaded (2.6, 2 SSD's, 2x8G etc.). Please not criticism on not doing aftermarket RAM - I'm no hardware pro and live fairly remotely so it was worth the money to have it arrive w/16G... I'd have spent more than Apple's upgrade fees in time/gas/RAM/installation anyway.

    The mini will be used for both desktop and server purposes at a small home office setup, as follows:


    - heavy web browsing (3 browsers and 20-50 tabs at a time, many running wordpress admin areas)
    - numerous productivity apps open simultaneously (mail, word, excel, acrobat, adobe CS, coda, itunes etc)
    - no gaming or heavy video editing


    - a dev environment running PHP, MYSQL, for coding/testing (new programmer here, so not too sure about this side of the equation)
    - other uses I'm not sure about, see questions below:

    1. Server Security:

    For security purposes I assume I shouldn't even connect this mini to the internet until I have the LAN properly configured ie modem-->router-->firewall-->switch-->mini?

    2. VPN:

    We need to have VPN client (external web-access) abilities in to access files on the LAN - I'm not familiar with the VPN software (if any) that Mac OSX server provides. Any advice as to whether this should be run using the mini or a different machine?

    3. Proxy Server:

    We need to have a proxy server that all internet traffic on the network is routed through (any/all machines using the network's internet connection). Can the mini server also serve this purpose? Are there any performance/security pros/cons? If it's a terrible idea, could a repurposed macbook (08-10 models) be configured to sit open as a proxy, if allowed to let the battery run out occasionally? What would be the best configuration? ISP speed hovers around 14x2.

    4. Network Storage:

    The SSD drives are obviously very small on the mini and would not be adequate for storage - what external drive do you all recommend in this setup? Have read terrible things about both the Pegasus and LaCie thunderbolt drives and I'm wary of dropping that many bones on shifty product.

    5. Boot Drive

    I'm not too familiar with how to set up one drive as the "boot" drive and another to run applications... is that advisable, and how would I go about doing so?

    6. Scratch Disk

    For the *occasional* FCP project - I've read that SSD's are not a good scratch disk. Is that true, and if so, would a La Cie 500g 3.0usb suffice? I already have one of these so would prefer not to have to get another external.

    I obviously have more questions, but this is already ridiculously long.

    Any advice really appreciated.

  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    For question 5 put it all on one ssd and use the second as your scratch disk. (depends on your size needs) you can partition the 'scratch disk" into two areas one for files one for scratch

    For question 6 ssd's are the best scratch disk in that they are the fastest. For all that you spent on this mini you should buy applecare and use one of the ssds as a scratch disk. If you are in the usa here is a link for apple care.

    for 104 and the cost of your machine it is worth it. you can use the second ssd as a scratch disk and not worry for 3 years.
  3. greyhat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2013
    Thank so much for the reply. Great ideas on the SSD, seems to be a simple (and productive) solution. I did get applecare on the machine, so it looks like I'm all set there!
  4. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    1. No problem connecting it to your internet connection. On Server, services aren't all running by default. Just verify the OS X Firewall is on.

    As you turn on various services, they will make entries in the 'allowed' pane.

    2. For basic use, the VPN that is built-in is more than adequate. If you really are worried about exposing the box directly, I would suggest a standard router with IPSec VPN. (Cisco's consumer alter-ego, Linksys, makes a model - assuming you don't want to go with a full-blown Cisco RV-series)

    3. OS X Server has a built-in Proxy (page forwarding, blocking, etc.) If you want something more robust/custom, I suggest Squid (

    Dedicating a box to the proxy would be ideal, but does increase the complexity a bit.

    4. Do you want Direct Attached Storage to the Mini or are you looking for a NAS? I would recommend a Drobo 5D connected to the Mini via Thunderbolt. You can use it for server/networked storage, but also carve off an 'Applications' volume.

    You didn't mention what solution you were going to use for backup.
    If possible, plan with the 3-2-1 rule in mind.
    3 copies of your data
    2 on-site: one on-line (working copy), one local backup (Time Machine, rsync, etc.)
    1 off-site: Crashplan, Carbonite, etc.)

    DO NOT use the same device for production and backup.

    Some resources that may be helpful (the white papers at the bottom).

    This one is based on Lion Server, but still has lots of good info.
  5. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
  6. greyhat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2013
    Cool. Thx!

    We have two Ubiquiti AirRouters available from a previous install - and were thinking of using this (wired) with a Cisco firewall and managed switch. Overkill? FWIW the AirRouter has a nearly impossible to configure firewall feature.

    Definitely want to dedicate a box to the proxy - so any recommendations there would be great.

    Thinking NAS - been looking at QNAP & Synology, maybe the latter for more what seems to be user-friendliness for non-network pros? But if there is a reliable Thunderbolt option, that's great - I just have read more bad than good about the new TB LaCie and the Pegasus. So any firsthand experience with these new devices would be great.

    The plan for LAN backup was to store a local backup on one NAS drive, a Time Machine on another, and some form of cloud backup. Should the onsite be on separate devices altogether?

    You're awesome - thanks for looking those up for me.

    Really appreciate all of the replies. Thank you!:D

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