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Server solution for a small design studio


macrumors member
Original poster
Apr 14, 2010
Hello all, just looking fora bit of advice or real world experience that anyone has regarding setting up a server for a small design studio. We're an in-house team of 11, all on iMacs, rest of the company is on Windows and we're all connected to the same network (1Gb ethernet from what we've been told).

At the moment we hold all of our various image files on 3 separate external hard drives (basically one hard drive for each different company brand), each connected to 3 of the iMacs – we're are looking at getting a server solution that will enable us to put all of our images together on one big drive that we can all access and have an off-site back up of just in case. At the moment we're testing a Lacie 20TB NAS pro disk that's connected directly to the ethernet network, whilst the capacity of it is ideal for our current number of images and future needs the speed of it in terms of file searching, accessing and saving to from Creative Suite is slow, certainly a lot slower than saving/searching/accessing the external hard drives like we were before.

We have had a Synology rack mount solution mentioned to us, or another solution would be to change the 3 existing externals with 3 larger RAID drives (we have two archive RAID drives by Lacie that work really well), but are there any other solutions people have used or could recommend to us?



macrumors 68000
Feb 14, 2007
Before you look at NAS solutions or servers check you basic infrastructure.
Cat 5e 0r 6 cabling.
Gigabit eathernet switch dedicated to your design department. You want to make sure your traffic is isolated from the rest of the company.

I regularly push around large graphic files ant work. I have a windows server running rip software and a linux server running another rip software. we also have a mac mini server and a cheap nas. Buy far the fastest server and most flexible is the Linux box. with 3 eathernet cards and fast SATA drives, it is never the bottleneck.


macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2012
Destin, FL
Agreed, I have twin webservers running in my shop, minecraft server ( for us at work ), all Ubuntu, a mac mini server hosting local dev and caching and a 3TB NAS for backups and Git. We have 7 macs, 2 ubuntu and a windows laptop for legacy.


macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2011
Be sure you cables are CAT6, those are the only one who can handle full gigabit. You can read the category printed on the cables.

I work with video using drobo, is strange you have an slow connection since we edit directly from a server, basic editing, no composting. But if you work with pictures it should be really fast so my guess is to check the cables. They are easy to buy in any store any way.


macrumors regular
Nov 2, 2004
Be sure you cables are CAT6, those are the only one who can handle full gigabit. You can read the category printed on the cables.

This is not true. Gigabit Ethernet requires Cat 5 or better at up to 100 meter cable lengths. Most people prefer to have Cat 5e or Cat 6, but it is not necessary. Our house had some longer Cat 5 runs already installed, and I've had no problems running them at gigabit speeds. That being said, if you are installing a new network, Cat 6 or better is the way to go. And if you are looking to eventually upgrade to 10 gigabit Ethernet, that requires Cat 6a or Cat 7. It's tougher cable to work with though because each twisted pair has its own shielding.‑T#1000BASE-T

Back to the original question though. In my experience, Mac to Mac file sharing is faster than Mac to Linux (or NAS boxes, which typically run Linux).

Using link aggregation can help in certain situations (especially if you have it setup on the server and have multiple clients hitting the files at the same time), but any single client won't see more than gigabit speed because of the way OS X handles link aggregation. It restricts single file server connections to a single Ethernet port.

If you do have a Linux-based file server, using an AFP connection (by running netatalk) will often be quicker than using Samba (SMB). Apple is in the process of switching away from AFP though, so it's hard to say how this will evolve. Here are typical transfer rates I see between a Mac Pro and a 2013 Haswell quad core Linux server with a RAID:

SMB: 65-70MB/sec
AFP: 75-80MB/sec
Mac to Mac AFP: 95-100MB/sec

So a Mac Mini running OS X Server with a good external Thunderbolt RAID might be your best bet. If you go the NAS route, the Synology boxes typically get the best reviews. They are easy to administer and run pretty fast.
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