I'm thinking about setting a small network and having a Mac Mini as the server. I'll need to make it accessible remotely, used to share files locally and remotely. There's need to backup everything up constantly.

This is the current setup i'm thinking about:

  • RSync
  • Firewire Enclosure with enough storage capacity
  • Netgear router with portfoward (we currently have one, it's very basic any sugestion would be good, maybe something faster)


  • My background is Win / Ubuntu Linux
  • Started using Mac a few weeks ago
  • I'll have to stick with a Mac, because there's a software for project management that requires Win or Mac Osx, and Mac Mini is the cheapest
  • I found about thunderbold but it's very expensive and even though is fast, I suppose the router is not fast enough, so I'll stick with Firewire.
  • For first run I'll have a Monitor and Mouse connected to the Mac Mini, after I'm thinking about administrating it trough Apple Remote Desktop or SSH
  • The backups will be sent to a NAS in LAN or other device

I'm finding difficult to find a cheap solution for storage. The firewire enclosures I'm finding are limited (500G or 750G) and then there's 2/4 bay enclosures that costs around 300 GBP / USD.

My question: I'm wondering what's the best way of doing this ? Is there any good tips or sugestions I could follow for setting everything up properly ?

*We are a small team and the "File server" is used to keep our projects. I'll also use it as a staging server (install MAMP) and GIT. We'll also have a project management server running in the machine called Filemaker (Streamtime).

Thanks a lot for looking, any tips are appreciated!

  • I can only endorse Chopper3 and Sysadmin1138's answers. There's no point in buying an expensive thunderbolt-connected drive (and they are still very expensive right now) if you won't see any benefit to it... and for just a few users I don't think you will. A good quality Firewire-based device that supports decently performing RAID disk arrays will do just fine. – Rob Moir Jul 25 '12 at 12:10

Typically this kind of question often falls inbetween us and superuser.com but you're building this for a small business so I think it deserves to be here.

For a small environment a Mac Mini is just fine, it has no hardware redundancy (PSU/fans etc.) but it'll do just fine.

Firstly make sure you go for the server-specific build, it's more expensive but has an i7 CPU and dual disks for use as a software-driven RAID1 pair. It obviously comes with OSX Server too.

The actual software is VERY easy to use, certainly for a beginner, it's pretty much all point and click but you will 'hit the wall' with it much more quickly than if you used a Windows or Linux server but then their learning curve is much higher too. Oh and of course there's no client licence costs with the Mac too which can really help.

As for the TB/FW question, so long as you stick to a FW800 enclosure and ensure you use the same software RAID (or better yet hardware RAID if the enclosure will support it) then you'll be fine. Don't be tempted to go for one of these cheapo NAS boxes with one or two 1Gbps NICs, a FW800 enclosure will be much quicker overall even though its raw signalling rate is slightly lower.

Oh and don't forget that OSX Server already comes with Apache already, but I would suggest you put some time into thinking exactly how your whole DNS/domain setup is going to work as with OSX Server it's best to get that right first time than having to keep going back tweaking. Other than that it's all very easy and by the time you outgrown that box Apple may have an appropriate machine out for you to move to - fingers crossed anyway.

  • Thanks a lot for your attention! I didn't knew about the Server Specific Build. I think it's this one ? (apple.com/macmini/server). – punkbit Jul 25 '12 at 11:16
  • Yep, that's the one, it's tuned specifically to do what you want and comes ready-built :) – Chopper3 Jul 25 '12 at 13:29

If you're deploying an OSX based system, I'd strongly recommend using Timemachine for your backups versus DIY solutions built around rsync. It's built in, surprisingly good at what it does, and all it needs is enough local disk to play with (or remote disk if you invest in a Time Capsule).

If you're looking for ways to find cheap storage, this is not the place for it. Product recommendations are specifically off-topic in the FAQ.

However, I second Chopper's recommendation of a FW800 based system. It has enough disk bandwidth to deal with multiple drives (even if one of 'em is your TimeMachine drive). You'll want to spend some money on this, as good enclosures are worth it.

  • Thanks a lot for looking! I was going to use RSync to be honest. I'll take my time around time machine for the reasons you mentioned. – punkbit Jul 25 '12 at 11:17

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