I'm in front of a big IT choice for my little office and I need some advice.

We have 5 users, 1 super user, 1 HP500 DesignJet Plotter, other 4 laser printers, 1 HP Fax/Print/Scan/Copy machine. All the clients are XP Sp3 boxes. We would like to:

  1. centralize and share 90Gb of files using a Dropbox (this way we will have LAN sync of local working directories + internet backup + access our files wherever we are).
  2. centralize our plotter, printers and fax machine backup all the workstations
  3. share outlook calendar and tasks
  4. run 24x7 saving some energy

Of course this setup It's just the first step to a more serious and creative network management of our office, so we are open to new ideas.

The budget vary from 400€ to 900€, we are not tech gurus but at least one of us is a power user close to become a geek.

I've read some articles on macminicolo about a mac mini either normal or with snow leopard server. I heard about Windows Home Server too on the lifehacker website but I'm in a sort of analysis - paralysis can You help me?


In addition to management tools, Server also comes pre-installed with several things that a web server may need, like MySQL and PHP (Actually, client may come with PHP now... but it doesn't come with MySQL) There may be other things like that that come with Server, but those are the ones that I personally use...

If you don't need any of those things on your server, then you don't need the server version of the OS... our primary file server here is running on just plain old OSX... (Probably 10.3 or something but that's a totally different story B-)

For the things you're considering, I'd say that the straight forward mac Mini is sufficient.


I wouldn't even consider a Mac for this. Everything that you have & want to do is based on Windows, so the logical step it to get a Windows-based server.

Since you're on a tight budget, you may want to look at getting a machine with a copy of Small Business Server. It's designed to be an all-in-one solution that's relatively simple to deploy.

With this, you can configure you're server as a domain controller, file server, print server, Exchange server, and back-up server (yeah, that's a lot for one box, but that's how MS licenses SBS). This will also give you tha ability to do centralized management via Active Directory and Windows Update Services.

For the long-term, the only thing that I would recommend is migrating to the non-SBS versions of the same components, as it will give you more flexibility & expandability.

For more info on SBS, see the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Small_Business_Server

Also, the MS site: http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/products/server/default.aspx#overview

  • 3
    If you don't have the technical staff or outsourced budget to run a mail server, do not run Exchange on-site. When the email doesn't get delivered, you will be the person that will have to fix it!
    – tegbains
    Apr 16 '10 at 0:44
  • 1
    Nothing wrong with fixing it yourself... Apr 16 '10 at 1:54

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