Windows Server with RAID

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by anarchopath, May 20, 2013.

  1. anarchopath macrumors member

    anarchopath

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    #1
    We're switching to electronic records in our medical office, and the doctor wants Macs running windows in bootcamp.

    1. Would it be a good idea to use a Mac Mini as our Windows Server?
    2. If so, would it be possible to set it up as RAID?
    3. Is there a cheaper/easier/relatively-reliable non-Mac option?
     
  2. opinio, May 21, 2013
    Last edited: May 21, 2013

    opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #2
    1. Yes. Lots of people use minis for servers in both mac and windows. Although if is purely for a windows server and there is no aesthetic value (i.e. the server is hidden away) then I would imagine a proper pc server machine is more appropriate. Minis can get warm too so running a mini 24/7 is going to run warmer than a properly cooled pc tower. There is no problem with that as I run a mini 24/7, but a pc tower has far better cooling options and allowance for larger drives, more peripherals etc.

    2. What level of RAID? 1 I take it? You can run a mini in RAID 1 but I have never done that and run boot camp with Windows at the same time. That is, I have run RAID 0 and 1 on minis before but that was only for OSX - not boot camp with Windows. You will need to get that answer from someone else that might have tried it. I am not sure if the boot camp partitioning works in RAID 1 that's all. I know RAIDing does limit some OS X options with partitions such as you cannot have a Recovery Drive partition so I am wondering if there are problems with a boot camp partition.

    3. Sort of answered in point 1.
     
  3. John Kotches macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Location:
    Troy, IL (STL Area)
    #3
    We don't know the scale, that is how much data and how many clients this is intended to serve.

    The mini could do the job, but I have doubts that it is the best fit.

    I would look into a hardware RAID solution via Thunderbolt or USB3 for the "big" storage if I went with a mini, or even a dedicated NAS unit instead.
     
  4. Verix macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #4
    The mini could definitely work, if you are looking for a small, noiseless machine that you barely notice being "there". An actual windows server machine will have better cooling options and will be easier to exchange parts with should the need arise, but the mini would definitely work.

    I have a 2010 Core2Duo mini that has windows 7 on 24/7 with software RAID1 enabled. Back then I made a post about it, windows software raid only worked when boot camp utilities weren't installed (I installed the drivers manually). Maybe you can just follow apple's boot camp install and use software raid after nowadays, but back then that didn't work.
     
  5. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    #5
    Mac mini's for indivual desktops - definitely.
    Mac mini for windows server serving an office - definitely not.

    Why?

    If the server goes down for one reason or another then restore/recovery/re-imaging of windows takes too much work / time.

    (I rely on my machine and recovery time is critical in my work)
     
  6. anarchopath thread starter macrumors member

    anarchopath

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    #6
    I don't need to use Mac Mini, just thought maybe it might work smoother since the base equipment it will be serving is Macs. Also yes it would need to run windows server.

    The computers will be running Windows (probably 7) via bootcamp. I'm starting to get the impression we should just go with a dedicated windows server machine...

    Thanks everyone for your input!
     
  7. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2011
    #7
    The highest failure rates are normally either software /data corruption or else a HDD failing. If you have a RAID-5 array in the server then you can just pull out the failed hard disk and replace it with a new one without downtime. (hot swap)
     
  8. KScottMyers, May 24, 2013
    Last edited: May 26, 2013

    KScottMyers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #8
    1. Would it be a good idea to use a Mac Mini as our Windows Server?

    I'm using this solution at one of our remote offices. We use VMWare's vSphere Hypervisor product. This allows you to run multiple instances of Windows Server virtually with almost zero latency. If you install 16GB of memory you can essentially run 4 or 5 instances at once. It works incredibly well and can be installed on a mini with no issues. Install the vSphere OS on a USB thumb drive and you're off to the races. The entire OS takes just a few hundred MBs. By the way - you can also run instances of OS X or Linux at the same time as well. VMWare offers the basic hypervisor for free. Get more info here. www.vmware.com


    2. If so, would it be possible to set it up as RAID?

    Not sure RAID will work internally with the mini and Windows. I'd suggest using a dedicated storage unit for your data volumes - such as a Synology NAS. This will allow iSCSI connections to the windows server that act as local storage and are protected using hardware RAID. More info here. www.synology.com


    3. Is there a cheaper/easier/relatively-reliable non-Mac option?
    Find a vSphere compatible PC.
     

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