Windows Server 2011 or Mac mini server

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by ArKShield, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. ArKShield macrumors newbie

    Jan 12, 2011
    This might need to be posted in another section, not quite sure though since it covers a couple of them :-/

    I posted this in buying advice but after hundreds of views but no reply I figured that might be the wrong section for it.

    Anyways I have tried search and multiple sites online but nothing exact answering or in the area of what I am wanting to do.

    To start of I have maybe 4-5 terabytes of movies a majority of them in mkv (hence the size) but slowly making them into an Apple TV format. I also have a Tom of photographs 300 gbs and slowly growing. I am currently deciding between Lightroom and aperture on which I want to control and edit with.

    In my household we have a MBA,pro retina, two iPads, two iPhone 5s, 2 apple tvs, and a windows pc. I plan to eventually add an iMac at a later time.

    I would like to have a central hub to store all the media, movies and music as well as a place where all our documents can be saved and easily accessed from any computer in the house or out and about.

    I would like to use the Apple TV to access the movies on the drive using home sharing or some other easy nice clean and simple way. I would also like to be able to have the main location if the pictures being used from Lightroom or aperture on the server so that it can be accessed and edited from either the iMac or retina. ( I understand that the programs can only be used 1at a time because it will corrupt the file structure but that is not a big deal only 1 will be open at a time.

    I would also like to backup all of my computers to the server as well.

    My confusion comes with to either get a Mac mini with server loaded up and attaching a bunch of USB 3.0 had drives or making a server and loading up windows home server 2011. I am not wanting to spend 2000/1000 bux on a simple raid enclosure that's why I choose USB 3.0 for the mini.

    I am just concerned with the mini and externals sucking down energy and the windows home server not working well with the macs. I have read of issues with iTunes 11 not being easily installed and used in windows 2011 server.

    If anyone has any advice or knowledge in the matter that would be great!

  2. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    I tried them both, I ended up with a mini running Mt Lion Server.
    The Windows Home Server is a great OS. The hardware choices are endless and from a hardware point of view I build the perfect setup. Very efficient lots of rooms for storage with out having a array of drives in external boxes and very energy efficient. What I did not have is time machine integration, with was high on my list. It was a fun project and sold the box for what I paid for it.

    Before I tried WHS2011 I was using a Linux server, worked out pretty well but did require tweaking every once in a while but again no time machine support.

    So Last year I picked up a used 2009 mini with 8Gb of ram. I have a 3TB USB drive for shared data, itunes. 2TB firewire drive or time machine, another 2Tb drive for backup and a handful of USB 1 tb drives for archiving, the latter stays offline and I turn on when I need it.

    The Mini server works out the best in my home environment with 3 MBP's 1 MacPro and 2 older windows PCs. I which I had a better or more custom choice of hardware. Having only 5usb ports and firewire really is limiting and efficient. File copy speeds are not as fast as with the WHS box but at the end of the day because I mostly a mac setup the functionally is best with the mini server.
  3. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I addressed your concerns in your other thread here

    You bring up Windows Server. Before I got the mini (March 2010) I used a Dell desktop running Windows XP Pro as a server. It did have issues with TimeMachine backup integrity and really wasn't useful beyond file sharing. I didn't want to go to the expense and effort of a real server OS on it (Linux would have been no expense but major effort for me even though I use Linux daily at work, I've no experience with maintaining a Linux server).

    So in early 2010 I made a MAJOR commitment buying not only the Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server but also two other minis for entertainment servers. Until then I used another Dell with Windows XP as our sole entertainment center. The Apple TV was added recently (allowing retirement of the Dell) and just recently it now connects to Plex rather than being forced into Apple's ecosystem.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Have you seen FreeNAS?

    It is likely the best NAS system you can get your hands on. Very easy to admin too. You'd run FreeNAS on a headless system with not monitor or keyboard and control it from a web browser. FreeNAS is based on BSD Unix (just like Mac OS X is also based in BSD Unix) but you'd never know. Admin and setup is easy. Basically you download a USB flash drive image and boot from that. THere is nothing to "install".

    It works well with Time Machine and windows and macs and with other Unixes that use NFS. The down side is that FreeNAS might be over kill. You say you only have 5TB of data. You could do that with two cheap USB3 external drives connected to that iMac you want to buy.

    You'd need to find a very low power computer.

    One thing about any NAS is that the netsoerk is not as fast as a direct Thunderbolt or USB3. Make sure you have gigabit Ethernet and good WiFi.

    You also have to think about back up. Especially for the Photos, the movie can be replaced easy enough. FreeNAS doe allow replication to the second remora FreeNASS server
  5. jomobco macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2013
    Buy a Synology Disc station

    You can back up both Windows and Mac's to it. Stream and store on it. Access it as a cloud server. That's the way I went and I love it.
  6. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    I'd second the Synology NAS

    I highly recommend the Synology NAS boxes for this kind of application. I have a 4-bay model (max 16TB), on which I run the following:

    Time Machine backup for 4 Macs,
    Windows / Acronis backups for 2 Windows PCs,
    iTunes server,
    iPhoto server,
    DNLA media server to my WD Live media player
    Private Cloud for all of my documents (accessible via the internet)

    It will do a lot more: web servers, mail servers, VPN, video/audio surveillance, TV recording etc. etc.

    I use Synology's SHR redundant storage configuration (similar to RAID 5). You really need some kind of high-availability option for this amount of data as disks *will* fail. Remember, RAID gives you service continuity, but it is not a backup so you need a separate backup solution if you value your data. I use cheap-ish external disks for this purpose.

    I tried various "cheaper" options such as adding external disks to my Apple router, or using an old laptop as a file server. The NAS solution has far superior performance and offers a lot more flexibility.
  7. dogbait macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2005
    London, England
    I think that the fact Apple don't use OS X Server for iCloud and are in fact phasing out Apple File Protocol support in favour of SMB2 (Microsoft's network file protocol) speaks volumes about their faith in their own server platform.

    In our office I manage a ML Server box, a Windows 2008 Active Directory network and a few Synology NAS boxes.

    Hands down, for home use the Synology NAS cannot be beat. It's rock solid, Mac/Windows and Linux file sharing work flawlessly - which cannot be said about OS X Server which craps out from time to time.

    In addition the Synology box supports Time Machine and more importantly in a multi mac enviornment lets you configure a quota for each Mac so they can't fill up the box.

    You can install plugins like Directory Services, DNS, Wordpress even as well as other great stuff like Plex and iTunes Music Server. All in all it is phenomenal value for money and the plugins work really well (just be sure to check the CPU spec of the Synology device you're considering - too slow and things like Plex won't work as well).

    WHS is a kind of halfway house between OS X Server and Synology. Not really offering enough to choose it over the other two.
  8. dimme macrumors 65816

    Feb 14, 2007
    SF, CA
    Amahi home server

    I forgot to mention earlier there is a Linux based product call amahi home server. I ran it a few years ago until the PCM in was running on died. At the time it was better that WHS with very flexible hardware requirements. You really do not need to be a Linux expert to run it.
  9. wsk, Jul 31, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

    wsk macrumors newbie


    Aug 15, 2011
    Another vote for the Synology disk station. I've been running it since April without a hitch. The Mac Mini Server I have was cumbersome to set up as compared to the Synology so I just use it now as a desktop. I have had two windows servers, one an old Compac Evo D500 which surprisingly is still working flawlessly running Server 2003. I leave it off most of the time unless I need to try to find a file I didn't transfer. Then I bought a Dell Server class box....loud and cumbersome, running Server 2008. And a power hungry power supply. It worked fine but I did have an equipment issue with it and luckily was under warranty. After 4 years of loud and hot, I gave this away to co-worker of mine....we're both in IT.

    Now I have the Synology with 4 bays. Two are the every day file server running raid, two are used as back up and Time Machine and I also have an external drive connected via eSata that I use to COPY, not back up, the files from the Synology periodically. I do this so that if the Synology should crap out, I can still access the files since Synology does use a proprietary file system and you can only do a restore.

    I love the apps that come with it. I have a Logitech Boom Box that I can control from any computer in the house and the Synology catalogs all of my media so my smart TVs can play it.

    My $.02.:)
  10. orangehand macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2006
    Go Synology NAS

    for what you need it is perfect; all kinds of media server apps available, backup anything to it, TM or not, etc etc - it is what I believe you Americans call a no-brainer!!

    buy a 4-bay though - give you loads of room for the future.

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