Server for multiple users

Alan Mackey

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 3, 2011
23
2
Okay, here's the conundrum: my wife and I have a MacBook Pro and an iMac respectively. Both came with a, at the time, sufficient 256 GB SSD. But time has passed and our Photos library is eating up most of the space.

So, basically, my idea is this: using a Mac Mini with 1TB HDD (which I already own) , I'd like to set up both our accounts and let the iCloud Drive contents and Photos libraries download all their contents there. Then, we could check the Optimize Mac Storage option, and keep locally on the MacBook Pro and the iMac just the thumbnails (which would free up more than 120 GB).

Thing is, we won't really use the Mac Mini once is set up, so I'm trying to come up with something that would allow us to "stay logged on" at the same time on the Mac Mini, so any picture or video that we take will be downloaded there.

Maybe it's as simple as enabling the fast switching option, and macOS will take care of the rest. I don't know...

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 

panjandrum

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2009
343
424
United States
If you want this to work completely "hands off" your best bet might be to setup the Mini with one of the accounts, so that it automatically logs-into that user, and then setup the other user in a Virtual Machine, using the software of your choice. This will allow you to boot both users all the way to their respective desktops automatically whenever you turn on/reboot the Mini. Otherwise you'll have to manually login to at least one of the accounts every time you have to reboot the Mini. Also, I expect that whichever account is not active will not get updated, even when logged-in using fast user switching. Photos will allow you to use any library you double-click on, so using File Sharing and putting an alias on your iMac and Laptop pointing to those libraries on the Mini should allow you to open them and work with them as if you had them on your respective machines. (You'll need to test that; there are a few apps that dislike opening library files stored on network volumes.) Then just double-click on your (smaller) local copy again to switch back to using the local Photos library.
Get a headless monitor adapter as well, and use Chrome Remote Desktop, ARD, or a similar solution to remote into the Mini, unless you want to dedicate a screen to the Mini.

The whole process will be a pain, but once it's done it should, in theory, function.
 

Alan Mackey

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Dec 3, 2011
23
2
Also, I expect that whichever account is not active will not get updated, even when logged-in using fast user switching.
I kind of suspected that. :-(

I don't know why, but I thought that, maybe, OSX Server would keep both accounts "active" at the same time.
 

panjandrum

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2009
343
424
United States
You might be over-complicating it. You could simply get a couple of these: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07857Y17V/ref=twister_B078VKF48F?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Plug those in, format them properly for your macs, copy your Photos libraries over to them and then set those copied libraries as the "Use as System Photo Library" in Photos preferences. Once you are certain everything is working properly just leave those drives plugged-in at all times. (At that point you can delete the originals from your Photos folder). I do something similar (multiple drives and multiple Photo libraries I open manually) and it works fine. I don't let iCloud manage my photos though, I do it 100% manually. It's possible this solution won't work when using iCloud Photo Library. Those USB thumb drives are small enough that leaving them in the laptop isn't a bother at all, unless you occasionally need both USB ports for other items simultaneously. (Or, if you have one of the newer laptops with the USB C style ports you are out of luck - nobody makes a tiny little thumb drive for those, as far as I know.) Regardless of what method you use, be absolutely *sure* to keep FULL backups of your Photos libraries. I've had iCloud delete way to many items to every trust it with anything of any importance.
 

DennisBlah

macrumors 6502
Dec 5, 2013
485
2
The Netherlands
Ever thought of going 'cloud' by One-Drive, Dropbox or even your own? (western digital -my cloud *I'm ising that myself)

For onedrive or dropbox you can even use a symlink as Documents folder or Desktop, which will instantly sync to and from the 'cloud'.
My cloud is a seperated device of X amount of TB which can sync photos from nearly any OS type.
 
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