Setting up a home network

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by r6mile, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. r6mile macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
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    London, UK
    #1
    Hi all,

    I am trying to set up a home network but I am a bit of a novice in this area and wanted to check with you guys that I am doing this correctly or could be doing this better.

    In my household there are 3 Macs: 1 Macbook Air (mine), 1 white Macbook (my partner's), and a 2010 iMac for the both of us (though mostly used by me). The iMac is always on and our Brother laser printer is plugged into it as a shared printer. Though I have to wake it up from deep sleep by pressing the on button in order to start printing, print jobs do queue on the iMac so that's not a big problem (since I have to get up to collect the printed materials anyway).

    Time Machine. I would like to set up a networked Time Machine to do backups for these 3 machines. I have a 2TB Lacie Rugged Triple (USB 3.0 / FW800) on the way which I got a good deal on, which I intend to plug into the iMac using the FW800 port. I understand that the easiest and most reliable way to set this up is using OS X Server for £15 - is this correct?. I also will use it to cache software updates (since all Macs are using El Capitan). Also, can OS X server automatically back up an iPhone? I use an Android but by partner is on iPhone.

    Shared media drive. I also want to use an exFAT partition in the Lacie drive to serve as storage for a Plex Server and make it shared, so that media can be accessed from all computers but mostly so that it can stream to our Samsung Smart TV. this should work right? is there a better way to do this than Plex?

    VPN. I am also interested in a couple of other things. Setting up a VPN could be useful to access the files on the drive remotely, and when using unsecured connections. I am just in the process of changing ISPS (from Sky UK to Virgin Media) but I don't think I get a static IP. As far as I understand, I need to get a dynamic DNS service (there are a few free ones, no?), and OS X Server should help me set up the rest, correct?

    User accounts. This is not that important but I wonder if there is a reliable way to share user accounts on the network? It would be good to get the same user account (ie to access the Documents folder etc) when using the iMac and the MBA, but I assume this needs the device to be connected onto the same network at all times? Is there a good way to do this? It might be that using the iCloud Drive folder as the Documents folder is the best way to do this, but any thoughts?

    At this point, you probably have a good idea of what sort of user I am. Any other things (for home use) that I could do with OS X Server?

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

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    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #2
    Shared media drive. Not sure why you're thinking of an exFAT partition for Plex. If you have a Plex server running from the iMac any of your devices will be able to stream. Having said that, we have a 5 year old Samsung Smart TV with the latest version of Plex and playback has always had issues. I often resort to connecting an old iPad 1 to the TV and streaming that way. I believe it's a crappy wifi on the Samsung, but I have nothing to confirm that. Plex for Samsung is developed by someone who calls himself "Orca". Not sure who takes over if something happens to "Orca".

    User accounts. A portable device should store its User data locally.

    VPN. You may decide to go with the Server app for overall reasons but there are other, easier ways to get a VPN running on a Mac without it.
     
  3. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Thanks a lot for your reply. I guess I assumed that Plex needs a separate Windows-readable partition (for the Samsung Smart TV, at the moment I just plug in my exFAT external HDD into the USB), or something but I guess it doesn't make a difference! Our Samsung Smart TV was only purchased 18 months ago or so and it is awesome, (this is the model http://www.richersounds.com/printproduct/SAMS-UE40H5510) we have not had issues streaming things like Amazon Prime or Netflix over WiFi, so hopefully Plex should work fine.

    Thanks also about the VPN advice. It's not really a priority at the moment, but I look into it more to assess the difficulty of setting it up.
     
  4. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

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    #4
    One such free VPN server for Mac is available here. Your router must properly support VPN traffic for any VPN server behind it to work. Most do but I just happen to have one that doesn't.
     
  5. LOLobo macrumors member

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    #5
  6. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Thanks all for your advice. I've now received the Lacie 2TB hard drive, which is connected via FW800 (this is the first time I use Firewire, I don't know if this is normal Firewire behaviour, but it showed up almost instantly on the iMac, whereas USB drives sometimes take a few seconds).

    Since I only use Macs, I am going to partition the drive in two: 1 HFS+ partition for Time Machine, and 1 HFS+ partition for media (to be shared on Plex). This does mean that I won't be able to plug in the hard drive onto the Smart TV if ever I wanted to do that, but I have also read that exFAT has a higher probability of data loss than HFS+, which makes me nervous.

    I will let you all know how I get on.
     
  7. DJLC macrumors 6502a

    DJLC

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    Location:
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    #7
    So OS X Server will be perfect for your Time Machine and Caching needs.

    As far as user accounts, your options would be...
    1. Easiest: keep it as-is with local accounts on each machine. For bonus points you could make the credentials on each machine match so you don't have to keep up with more than one login.
    2. Harder both short term and long term, but potentially cooler: set up OS X Server with Open Directory. Bind your client Macs to it and set the users up as Mobile Accounts with HomeSync. The "master" copy of the user's home folder will be stored on the server (iMac). When you login to a client (MacBook) while at home, it will use the server for authentication and sync changes to the user's home folder. When you use it away, you will be able to login with your network account if you've logged in with it previously, but changes to the home folder won't sync until you get home. YMMV with this setup; it sounds great in theory, but in practice it can be a train wreck keeping the syncing and authentication working reliably. In an ideal world your result is that no matter which client you login to, you have an identical user profile and can work regardless of which machine you have. That said, you wouldn't want to use the server as a regular client Mac in this case, and ultimately using iCloud to keep files in sync may be more reliable / better for a home user.
     
  8. mac8867, Apr 6, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2016

    mac8867 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    You didn't state the model/year of your iMac, but if it has USB3.0, that would be better than firewire (faster).

    You do not need an exFAT partition to do this. Assuming you are running Plex server on the iMac, it is that service that will communicate with your TV, not the hard drive itself.

    OSX Server VPN is much better than it used to be. If you have an Apple router (e.g. Airport extreme), it has built in port forwarding options to enable it. You are correct on the IP address, your client machine will need to know the IP address of your router. It doesn't "have" to be a static IP address, but if your ISP changes it frequently, then you will have some trouble. However, depending on what you want to do with the files, you could explore using something like TeamViewer to remote control your iMac. (No VPN, IP addressing independent)

    Again, OSX server has all this functionality. Although, check out OwnCloud

    I have OwnCloud installed on my server, publishing the site and services through OSX server. I love it for two primary reasons: a) I used multiple machines for work and it keeps files synced between them, and b) it allows me to quickly share "things" with my clients.

    I also like the software update service in OSX server, several macs, iphones etc.
     
  9. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Feb 3, 2010
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    London, UK
    #9
    Thanks for your reply.

    It is a 2010 21.5 iMac, which does not have USB 3.0 so the 2TB hard drive I bought is connected via FW800, but it also includes USB 3.0 so I can run it faster with newer Macs. Transfer speeds have not been an issue so far and the iMac has been running very well as a home server for last few weeks.

    I have set up shared time Machine for our 3 Macs and it works well (though at one point it stopped working, so I just formatted the backup partition and re-started the service and it started working again).

    As for the user accounts, I decided it was probably more trouble than it was worth so I have just moved all my documents to my iCloud folder, which does the job.

    Plex has been working very well and have used it to stream both to our Samsung Smart TV and my MBA with no lags when at home. I have tried it remotely but that is quite laggy - I suspect our limited upload speed is bottleknecking this, but we are upgrading to Virgin Media fiber optic on Saturday which should help. One thing that has disappointed me though (and this is unrelated to the server, but to Plex) is Mobile Sync, which can't just copy files to a mobile device, it actually has to transcode them, which means it takes a lot longer.

    I have not set up the VPN because I have figured there is actually very little need for me - I can access media files via Plex, and documents on iCloud, but it might be something I try at a later date.
     
  10. mac8867 macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Cool. sounds like you know what you are doing. I do encourage you to take a look at OwnCloud, I am not personally affiliated with the product, but I love the fact I am running my cloud and not limited to space restrictions on iCloud or dropbox etc. You have a strong setup that can support it.
     
  11. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    Jan 12, 2010
    #11
    At the risk of threadjacking, and with the hope of adding useful information to the thread, I've been going nuts the past few days getting my Mac Mini with attached storage to work entirely with Plex. On our network, no worries. Outside our network, it's hell.

    Popular wisdom says you need to set things up to port forward, but I will be damned if I can figure out how to do it on the AirPort Extreme.

    Closest I've come is setting up a port and encountering a double NAT scenario which doesn't work. If I try to mitigate this by putting the modem itself into bridge mode, the whole system comes crashing down and there's no internet.

    Given the amount of users happily using Plex, I'd have thought SOMEone would post a tutorial on how to set up your AEBS with a Mac Mini as a server, but everything is years old. I must be the lone person on Earth who can't figure this out.

    So, if anyone's got an idea, I am MORE than all ears.
     
  12. r6mile thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I managed to get this working quite easily, now using an Airport Extreme. On Airport Utility, just go on 'Network', click + and use settings like these.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.44.50.png
     
  13. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    #13
    Thank you for responding. :) See, I did exactly that (IP was different, but same idea) and that turned up a double-NAT situation that didn't work. After google-ing around for a while, it *seemed* like the solution was to disable bridge-mode on the modem itself, which I did, and then the whole network fell apart and I had nothing-no plex, no WiFi, no internet of any kind.

    I must have some rare sort of setup going on here that precludes any kind of port-forwarding, or messing with the default settings at all. Sigh.
     
  14. satcomer, May 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016

    satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    #14
    What you have to remember is in Home Networking any router behind another router has to NAT turned OFF! So the closet router to the modem should have NAT turn on and any router behind that router has to have NAT turned off! In Apple routers to turn off NAT Apple calls that 'Bridged Mode'!

    Plus you have to as yourself are you using an ISP modem/router all in one?

    Apple use that "Double NAT" alarm because most users don't understand local LANS, NAT and Ethernet speeds compared to wireless speeds!
     
  15. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    Jan 12, 2010
    #15
    Thank you for your reply. I don't understand enough about network setups, it seems. I thought I could learn, but I've lost hours of my life to this, and getting closer to breaking the home network than anything else. My setup is Internet>Modem>Apple AEBS. The Mini server is plugged directly into the AEBS with a net cable, and the rest of the computers/phones in the house connect to it via WiFi. Near as I can tell, there is no way to create a port forward for Plex's use on the AEBS. Any attempt to do so results in the error "The DHCP range you have entered conflicts with the WAN IP address of your base station." If I change the range, it then allows me to create the port, but results in double NAT. And around and around I go...
     
  16. satcomer, Jun 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2016

    satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

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    #16
    You have to understand the IP range for your home network ranges. In a IPv4 address you should have the first three octets the same number! So when you forward you have to use ranges inside your network.

     
  17. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    Jan 12, 2010
    #17
    Yup. Did everything in this very helpful video (thank you for sharing it). Everything works brilliantly, and I can go through the whole process, and yet when I click Update to complete the configuration, I get the same "The DHCP range you have entered conflicts with the WAN IP address of your base station." message as before. The first three octets are the same, in my case, 192.168.0. The DHCP Range as listed in the same window is 192.168.0.10 to 192.168.0.100. So, I tried multiple values for the fourth digit. None work.

    I appreciate your help...
     
  18. seismick macrumors member

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    Oct 14, 2013
    #18
    If you are running OS X Server, make sure that you have also enabled Plex in the server firewall (see screenshot). I was having similar problems to you (able to access Plex on LAN, but not remotely), though I did not have any trouble configuring port forwarding through AirPort utility or through the OS X Server interface, so wasn't seeing the double NAT error that you've encountered. Which services are you running on your server?

    Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 8.43.29 AM.png
     
  19. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    #19
    Thanks so much for your time and advice. I am not running OS X Server at all, simply a straight up version of El Capitain. I didn't see the need to do so, as my needs are very limited. I wanted to use the computer as an HTPC (which is accomplished brilliantly through a combination of iTunes, Plex, Shomi [Rogers Canada's answer to Netflix] and YouTube). I also use it to house files that I access on the go through Back To My Mac. It also does some light file handling using Hazel. That's about it. I didn't think I needed a server if that's all it was doing. So sadly, the instructions above don't apply to me. :(
     
  20. cortneytaylor, Jun 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016

    cortneytaylor Suspended

    cortneytaylor

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    #20
    I think the problem isn't with your port forwarding, but with your router(s). Network Address Translation (or NAT) is a method that routers use to assign local IP addresses so that they in turn can use a single public IP address/internet connection. When there are two routers on a network trying to provide NAT services, you will run into a Double NAT error, and the network comes to a screeching halt.

    From what I gather, it looks like your modem/router combo is router1, and your AirPort Express Base Station is router2. Since a network can only use one router to actually perform router duties, you have a few options here:

    1. If you would like to use your AEBS as your router, you'll need to disable the router functionality on your modem/router. From what I understand, most of these combos have that setting tucked away somewhere. This setting could be different from Bridge Mode. From there, you can use your AEBS as your router.
    2. If you don't want to use your AEBS as your router, you can take it completely out of the equation. Login to your router/modem, and setup port forwarding on that device. Not ideal, but it should work. If you wanted to, you could then setup your AEBS in Bridge Mode. Just know that by doing that, the AEBS basically becomes a range extender for your network; it won't be able to use any routing capabilities.
    3. Since most router/modem combos suck at doing either function well, your best option (in my opinion) would be to ditch that device, and purchase a stand-alone DOCSIS 3.0 modem. You can find some relatively cheap on Amazon. You'll have to check with your ISP if they'll allow it, though. If they do, they probably have a list of supported routers posted on their website.

    I'm not sure if it covered it in the movie that satcomer posted (I didn't watch it), but you'll also need to setup DHCP Reservations for (at the very least) your Mac mini server. Input your Mac mini's MAC address, and assign it a static IP address in your chosen IP range (I'm partial to the 10.x.x.x range, but that's just me). Also note that your IP address range can only go up to x.x.x.255; anything over that is invalid. Generally your gateway (another fancy name for "router") is x.x.x.1, so choose something between x.x.x.2 and x.x.x.255.

    When you're getting your DHCP error, it's probably for the same reason that you are getting your Double NAT error: you have two routers on your network trying to provide the same service. That's why it says that the DHCP range is already taken (in conflict).

    Hopefully that'll help. Using Port Forwarding and DHCP Reservations, you'll be able to do all sorts of cools things, like hosting your own cloud, remote desktop and printer... that kind of stuff. We just need to solve this Double NAT issue first.

    Update: If you want to check to see what device is your gateway/performing the router duties, go into System Preferences/Network, select your network, and click on "Advanced". Click on the "TCP/IP" tab. The fourth item on the left is "Router", and will show you it's IP address. It's probably 192.168.0.1 or 10.0.0.1, or something similar.
     
  21. seismick macrumors member

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    Oct 14, 2013
    #21
    Got it - in one of your previous posts you referred to your "mini server", hence my assumption. You may want to post your Airport configuration settings as screenshots in case there's a setting that isn't quite right. As previous posters have mentioned, port forwarding with Airport utility as you've attempted is normally trivially straightforward. Is your modem also functioning as a router, and if so, have you tried to configure it in bridge mode so that your AEBS handles DHCP and NAT?
    --- Post Merged, Jun 2, 2016 ---
    Totally agree with cortneytaylor - that's advice that seems right on the money.
     
  22. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    #22
    Wow, thank you both for the information--very kind of you. I need to get to the office to toil away, but I will source some better information and research a little and get back to you this evening when I have a chance to poke around. To be honest, I thought that the modem was simply a modem, and not a router as well. I will check all this out and report back. Cheers to you both for the ongoing help!
     
  23. AppleInLVX, Jun 6, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016

    AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    #23
    Hi again. Sorry for the delay. Life got in the way, and it was a busy weekend. I have put together a small gallery of screen grabs this evening for what I hope are relevant screens of my current setup. They are found here:

    http://imgur.com/a/GJmYa

    The setup has changed from my last message. I did spend some time this weekend on the phone with Apple support and Rogers to try to get this working. Both were helpful in their own ways. Apple support (even though they don't officially support configuration of AEBS with a modem) talked me through setting up a new range of IPs that wouldn't conflict. The secret was that I needed to first set up the range and save and then set up the port forward, rather than do both at the same time, as I had been doing. Breaking it out into two steps seemed to work. Still didn't get me up and running though as I still had a double-NAT situation, which they said I could safely ignore, but which didn't allow me to get Plex going outside the network.

    So then I called Rogers and they did a little manual configuration by remote of the modem. The modem also acts as a router, which I did not know, and the woman who was helping me switched the modem into bridge mode (where it apparently wasn't), telling me that all this did was disable the modem's WiFi capabilities. With that done, the modem is now ONLY a modem (rather than also playing the role of a router) and the AEBS is set to DHCP and NAT allowing it to route things.

    This seems to work... sometimes. I thought I had it figured until I was unable to stream anything from Plex more than once. It worked one time, and then although it now connects, it doesn't stream.

    Also, on more than one occasion, engaging my VPN will work while on, but when I disconnect the VPN, the AEBS pitches a fit and disconnects and the only way I found to get it working again is to unplug the whole thing and let it rediscover the network on its own.

    It seems I'm further to where I want to be, but tweaking is necessary to get it working correctly. So, any further advice, and I'm all ears. Thanks again, folks.

    EDIT TO ADD: Back To My Mac no longer works either, so I've broken my remote file share as well. Sigh. :(
     
  24. cortneytaylor Suspended

    cortneytaylor

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    Jun 2, 2016
    #24
    It looks like you've figured out your router/port forwarding issues. Well done. :)

    Your problems with streaming are now probably a slow upload speed. In Plex, you can change the quality that it steams to. Adjust the quality settings to something lower than the original size, and test that out. You can also run a speed test to see what your upload speeds are.

    I'm not entirely sure why your VPN isn't working as well as it should. I will say this: I've never had much success running a VPN on any of Apple's routers. I've found that their routers tend to be lacking in most every area. I've recently moved from the latest gen Time Capsule to a Synology RT1900, and I haven't regretted the decision. Most of the issues I would experience before are now gone.

    If you would like, check out VNC for screen sharing. It's a standard protocol, and isn't held to a third party's services being up. Just setup port forwarding on your router to your computer, make sure screen sharing is turned on in your system preferences, and then connect using VNC's server that you download from their site. You'll be able to access your files and screen from any device, which is something you can't do with Back to my Mac.
     
  25. AppleInLVX macrumors 65816

    AppleInLVX

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    Jan 12, 2010
    #25
    Thank you so much for your recommendations. I'll spend some time with it again this weekend, and see if I can get it working properly. It's too bad about the VPN; while I don't need it often, I do connect to work from home a few times a month, and it's necessary. I didn't know that AEBS was flaky in this regard. Here I was thinking going whole-in on Apple hardware would *simplify* things. Le sigh. :rolleyes:

    I'll let you know how I fare. Cheers!
     

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