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  1. #1

    Member Since
    Aug 15, 2012
    Should I buy a used Mac Pro to use as a server?

    I'm new to the forum and am looking for some advice on setting up a home server.

    I currently have a macbook pro (2010), a mac mini (very old) and an apple TV. I have around 2 Tb of stored data spread across various external hard disks. This is mainly photos, music and movies. I have a 1 Tb time capsule which I use to back up some of my data.

    The whole setup is getting unwieldy with constantly plugging in and unplugging external drives on my macbook pro etc. Also as I gather more data I'm becoming concerned about hard drive failure, particularly for my photos.

    I really want to have one machine which is robust and is always on which has all my data on it. I am considering whether a used Mac Pro would be a good solution. It appealed because of the built in four drive bays which I could setup in a raid configuration. I don't need a massively powerful machine but I do want to make sure that it will work fine with the latest versions of iOS and that I will be able to access my data from all my other devices.

    I am looking for advice on the minimum spec of mac pro that I should look for and any other advice on whether this would be a good solution to my problem.



  2. #2

    Raz0rEdge's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jul 17, 2009
    27" i7 iMac, 24" iMac, 13" Macbook Air, iPhone 5 & 5S, iPod Nano 7th Gen, iPad 2 16GB WiFi, iPad 3
    Welcome to Mac-Forums..

    From what I read, it sounds like a NAS might be a better option for you. You can find one with enough bays and features to suite your budget and needs. It can be configured as an always on thing and also more NAS' can be easily accessed by Mac's using AFP, Windows machines through sharing and Linux through NFS..

    I have a NAS that I use for my media/file storage and my data is protected with the available RAID. My NAS also acts as my music and video streamer so that I can stream videos directly to my XBOX and Samsung TV which are both DLNA complaint.

    I have the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+..

    Be sure to read the Community Guidelines | The more information you provide, the better answers you get, remember GIGO.

  3. #3

    Member Since
    Aug 15, 2012
    Hi Ashwin,

    Thanks for the reply. I should have mentioned NAS systems in my original post. This could definitely be an option, but I'm concerned about using Aperture to access my photos over this type of setup. I've read bad things about it such as Network Drives (NAS) and*Aperture - ApertureExpert Tips - and my own experience with using Aperture even with single external drives is that it can affect performance significantly.

    I'm going to research the latest NAS systems a bit more to see if there is something that could work for me.

    Thanks for the reply,


  4. #4

    RavingMac's Avatar
    Member Since
    Jan 07, 2008
    In Denial
    4GB Mac Mini 2012, 13" MBA, 15" MacBook Pro OSX 10.7, 32 GB iPhone 3GS, iPad2 64gb 3G
    FWIW I'm using a 2009 Mac Mini to do essentially what you are talking about. I also have an NAS as well as two TimeCapsules and an Airport Extreme Base Station.

    My Setup:

    - 2TB 2nd Gen TC hooked to DSL Modem and serves as my Wireless Network Base and File Storage for shared Aperture and iPhoto Libraries.

    - 500GB 1st Gen TC Wireless Relay and direct Ethernet connect to my Mac Mini. It also provides TimeMachine backup for the mini.

    - AES downstairs relay and direct connect to satellite receiver and link to ATV2

    - Mac Mini. I use this as my desktop (mainly for Aperture and Adobe PSE). Hooked to it are a 500GB FireWire External HD which I use as my main media server. Also connected via USB is an old (really old) 320GB External HD which I use for Wireless TimeMachine backup for my wife's 2011 MBA. She connects to it as a shared drive off the Mini.

    - Dlink DNS323 NAS w 2 ea 1TB drives in RAID 1. I use this as a secondary media server and because one can never have too much back up storage (at least that's what I tell my wife).

    It all works fairly well, though honestly I am looking at upgrading to a new Mini for more RAM and power. I'm holding out expecting that the next refresh will add USB 3 and Intel D4000 Graphics to the Mini.
    I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .

  5. #5

    Member Since
    Aug 15, 2012

    Thanks for the reply. I'm starting to think that a good setup could be a mac mini connected to a drobo raid system. I definitely want my data stored in a raid array, as I've already had one hard disk die on me. It looks like the latest mac mini has a thunderbolt connection as does the new drobo 5d so that could make a good, fast setup.


  6. #6

    Member Since
    Dec 11, 2010
    Although using one of the RAID configs with redundancy is a good idea, you should still have a backup - a second copy of every important file. As you've experienced, hard drives can and DO fail.

  7. #7

    iggibar's Avatar
    Member Since
    Apr 20, 2009
    Mac Pro 4.1 15" MBP. 13" MBP. 17" PB. Power Mac G5. Galaxy Note 4 160gb*
    I'm going to tell my opinion on this. Any excuse is a great excuse to buy a Mac Pro I hope one day to pick up a used Mac Pro, but until then, my G5 is still kicking and stomping.

    As much as I like NAS setups, I don't trust networks enough for storing large data amounts. Works fine for quick things, like non-important documents and such, but large media files...I don't know. I also like the Mini, but if given the chance, if I were looking for a computer to act as a server, I would get one that is more suited for the job. On an OSX system, I don't think there's anything better than a Mac Pro setup. You can't go wrong with it. It's got 4 hdd slots, massive ram capabilities, more upgradability...and even though you say this is just for a server setup, why limit yourself?

    If a Mac Pro doesn't work for you, I would pick up a Mini. They're pretty darn cool too.
    “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius

  8. #8

    Member Since
    Mar 18, 2012
    the Netherlands
    iMac 27" i5 3.1GHz / 1TB HDD / 16GB RAM / Model 12.2 / Mavericks 10.9
    FYI, my setup and performance:

    iMac with 1TB HDD
    External G-Drive 2 TB via FW800 mainly for photography
    External HDD via USB 2.0 for Time Machine Backups
    Synology DS212+ with two 'Green' drives in Raid (SHR), via cable/switch, AFP, for work-related data

    And another USB drive connected to the Synology NAS for Time Backups (NOT: Apple Time Machine Backups) for the data stored on the NAS. But this one I left out of the equation.

    Performance at 1 GB files:

    Unit Read MB/s Write MB/s
    iMac 100 100
    FW800 70 70
    USB 2.0 38 30
    DS212+ 67 40

    Performance at 5 GB files:

    Unit Read MB/s Write MB/s
    iMac 100 100
    FW800 75 70
    USB 2.0 38 29
    DS212+ 65 40

    In my case, the NAS performs about as well as the FW800 drive. A 100 MB Word file opens in about the same time from either interal drive, FW800 or NAS. Only the USB drive lags behind.


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