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Hoping to repurpose Hackintosh as a server, but "File Sharing" greyed out

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I use a network macs to share media over SMB and haven't run into problems with speed limits limiting my media for a single stream. However I have seen macOS SMB deliver woefully sporadic data rates. And it's pretty hard to know where the problem resides. This dialog reminded me of a recent article with a surprising take on macOS I/O rate-limiting — I have no idea where else to here to post this news and I thought of it in this context, so here it is...



This explains a problem that I have seen for at least a decade when using macOS to make full drive copies using ddrescue: using the drive block device as opposed to the character device (/dev/disk2 vs /dev/rdisk2) caps throughput at about USB2 speeds (30MB/s). I discovered by accident that the character device doesn't suffer this.

Assuming the writeup above is correct, we can only imagine at what applications such a rate-limit bug might affect.

A few extra notes, in case anyone might find it helpful.

I'm experiencing a variety of small issues (mainly slow network speeds) which are making the network less practical than hoped. The main appeal were the $0 cost and "convenience" of converting an existing Hackintosh (with a large, quiet, and cool case) into an external hard drive.

The upsides of a Mac server:
• It works.
• It's free.
• It's a tidy solution (all my disks are in one quiet, cool tower).
• The two Macs play nicely together: I can screen share the Hackintosh on the MacStudio, using the same wireless keyboard, trackpad, and mouse, as easily as any other desktop.
• shuffling data between disks on the network computer is, of course, fast and easy.

So the network is a great solution for backup and storage. But it's slow transferring large files or directories (photography, videos, etc.). My main friction is photography. [FN1]

The downsides:
• Speed. It's *very* slow (much slower than advertised/expected). See below.
• Setup time. It takes a while to figure out how to set up a network, get it working, etc. This is far more time and trouble than just buying an external drive case.
• Other options are faster and not that much more expensive.
• Time Machine isn't the same over a network. It creates a .sparsebundle file instead of the usual .backups (?) folder. I think it's like an ISO; you can't directly access the files inside it like you normally can. Also, network drives won't save prior versions of files -- or something like that.

Speed
I have a 1Gbps ethernet card on my Hackintosh server. Speed tests say it's ~980 Mbps or 122 MBs/second. At that rate, a 1GB file should transfer in ~8 seconds. But real world tests are *much* (2-5x) slower:

Server→Router→Computer: 24MBs/second.
1GB file → 41 seconds

Server→Computer: 52-63 MBs/second.
1GB file → 18 seconds

A 10Gb network card seems like an obvious upgrade.

It *should* be 10x faster with a direct connection. But that depends on what's causing the slow-down. It would cost another ~$100. And I'd sacrifice internet speed, as the [Server→Router→Computer] setup gives me much faster wired internet ~200-300Gbps vs. WiFi ~80-100 Gbps. (The router ports are 1Gbps)

Options:
1. A 10Gbps (1,250 MBs) network card is about ~$100. That should theoretically improve speeds by 10x. Even a 2x-5x speed increase would match the speed of the HDDs, matching the speed of the HDDs. 10x would match the SSD speeds.

But that assumes the current much-slower-than-expected speeds are caused by the connection.

2. A docking station (TerraMaster or Sabrent) can run from $170-$280. That's $78-$180 more than a new network card. It would largely skip the network, potential 10Gbps speeds (hard drives will capped by their own speeds, i.e. ~1Gbps for HDDs, ~5Gbps for SSDs), and avoid network-related issues like Time Machine.

3. A Thunderbolt bridge between the two computers is theoretically possible. But from what I've skimmed, it's very difficult to get a Thunderbolt card to work on a Hackintosh. And it would probably run ~$145.

4. An M2. NVMe SSD & an enclosure is also a tempting. It would expand *fast* drive space that is directly accessible by the computer at high speeds (10 Gbps / 1,250 MBs), moving the main bottleneck from the server to the Mac. The server could then be used mainly for bulk backup and storage, where speed would matter less.

The main downside is cost. A 2TB MVMe drive is $200-$240, plus $40 for a drive capable of 10Gbps transfer speeds. Some are as fast as 40Gbps (~5,000 MBs/second), but cost $150.

——————————————————————————————

[FN1] Photography. For the most part, the primary need is storage, not speed. I have over 2TBs of photos, so they can't all fit on my 2TB Mac Studio. Some files are as large as ~1-2GBs. A single subject like a vacation (which I would edit at one time) can be upwards of 200 GBs. So current network speeds won't work.

*** Note: much of this hassle is due to the high cost of Apple's SSD storage. I have a 2TB Mac Studio. 4TB would have held all of the data I need fast access to. But increasing that to 4TB would have cost $600. smh
 
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pastrychef

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A few extra notes, in case anyone might find it helpful.

I'm experiencing a variety of small issues (mainly slow network speeds) which are making the network less practical than hoped. The main appeal were the $0 cost and "convenience" of converting an existing Hackintosh (with a large, quiet, and cool case) into an external hard drive.

The upsides of a Mac server:
• It works.
• It's free.
• It's a tidy solution (all my disks are in one quiet, cool tower).
• The two Macs play nicely together: I can screen share the Hackintosh on the MacStudio, using the same wireless keyboard, trackpad, and mouse, as easily as any other desktop.
• shuffling data between disks on the network computer is, of course, fast and easy.

So the network is a great solution for backup and storage. But it's slow transferring large files or directories (photography, videos, etc.). My main friction is photography. [FN1]

The downsides:
• Speed. It's *very* slow (much slower than advertised/expected). See below.
• Setup time. It takes a while to figure out how to set up a network, get it working, etc. This is far more time and trouble than just buying an external drive case.
• Other options are faster and not that much more expensive.
• Time Machine isn't the same over a network. It creates a .sparsebundle file instead of the usual .backups (?) folder. I think it's like an ISO; you can't directly access the files inside it like you normally can. Also, network drives won't save prior versions of files -- or something like that.

Speed
I have a 1Gbps ethernet card on my Hackintosh server. Speed tests say it's ~980 Mbps or 122 MBs/second. At that rate, a 1GB file should transfer in ~8 seconds. But real world tests are *much* (2-5x) slower:

Server→Router→Computer: 24MBs/second.
1GB file → 41 seconds

Server→Computer: 52-63 MBs/second.
1GB file → 18 seconds

A 10Gb network card seems like an obvious upgrade.

It *should* be 10x faster with a direct connection. But that depends on what's causing the slow-down. It would cost another ~$100. And I'd sacrifice internet speed, as the [Server→Router→Computer] setup gives me much faster wired internet ~200-300Gbps vs. WiFi ~80-100 Gbps. (The router ports are 1Gbps)

Options:
1. A 10Gbps (1,250 MBs) network card is about ~$100. That should theoretically improve speeds by 10x. Even a 2x-5x speed increase would match the speed of the HDDs, matching the speed of the HDDs. 10x would match the SSD speeds.

But that assumes the current much-slower-than-expected speeds are caused by the connection.

2. A docking station (TerraMaster or Sabrent) can run from $170-$280. That's $78-$180 more than a new network card. It would largely skip the network, potential 10Gbps speeds (hard drives will capped by their own speeds, i.e. ~1Gbps for HDDs, ~5Gbps for SSDs), and avoid network-related issues like Time Machine.

3. A Thunderbolt bridge between the two computers is theoretically possible. But from what I've skimmed, it's very difficult to get a Thunderbolt card to work on a Hackintosh. And it would probably run ~$145.

4. An M2. NVMe SSD & an enclosure is also a tempting. It would expand *fast* drive space that is directly accessible by the computer at high speeds (10 Gbps / 1,250 MBs), moving the main bottleneck from the server to the Mac. The server could then be used mainly for bulk backup and storage, where speed would matter less.

The main downside is cost. A 2TB MVMe drive is $200-$240, plus $40 for a drive capable of 10Gbps transfer speeds. Some are as fast as 40Gbps (~5,000 MBs/second), but cost $150.——————————————————————————————

[FN1] Photography. For the most part, the primary need is storage, not speed. I have over 2TBs of photos, so they can't all fit on my 2TB Mac Studio. Some files are as large as ~1-2GBs. A single subject like a vacation (which I would edit at one time) can be upwards of 200 GBs. So current network speeds won't work.

Note: much of this hassle is due to the high cost of Apple's SSD storage. I have a 2TB Mac Studio. 4TB would have held all of the data I need fast access to. But increasing that to 4TB would have cost $600. smh

I don't know why your speeds are so bad... I just tried transferring a 1GB file to my NAS and it took about 5 seconds. A 12GB file took about 52 seconds. This is over 10GBase-T.

Your router seems to be a problem. I don't know why its presence slows down your transfers so much.
 
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Speed
I have a 1Gbps ethernet card on my Hackintosh server. Speed tests say it's ~980 Mbps or 122 MBs/second. At that rate, a 1GB file should transfer in ~8 seconds. But real world tests are *much* (2-5x) slower:

Server→Router→Computer: 24MBs/second.
1GB file → 41 seconds

Server→Computer: 52-63 MBs/second.
1GB file → 18 seconds
Maximal theoretical rates are hard to achieve. But the discrepancy points to an issue with your "router".
An upgrade to a 10G-capable switch may be the first step. Some affordable options: Microtik CRS305-1G-4+IN (meant for optical, which is the best way to go for 10G), QNAP QSW-M408 (mixed 10G Base-T/SFP+), Asus XG-U2008 (unmanaged, 2*10G Base-T so only suitable for a NAS and one privileged client… where a direct connection to the NAS could be an option).

Moving up, SMB itself is likely to become another bottleneck. It's single threaded, and not very good at scaling up.
 
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A few extra notes, in case anyone might find it helpful.

I'm experiencing a variety of small issues (mainly slow network speeds) which are making the network less practical than hoped. The main appeal were the $0 cost and "convenience" of converting an existing Hackintosh (with a large, quiet, and cool case) into an external hard drive.

The upsides of a Mac server:
• It works.
• It's free.
• It's a tidy solution (all my disks are in one quiet, cool tower).
• The two Macs play nicely together: I can screen share the Hackintosh on the MacStudio, using the same wireless keyboard, trackpad, and mouse, as easily as any other desktop.
• shuffling data between disks on the network computer is, of course, fast and easy.

So the network is a great solution for backup and storage. But it's slow transferring large files or directories (photography, videos, etc.). My main friction is photography. [FN1]

The downsides:
• Speed. It's *very* slow (much slower than advertised/expected). See below.
• Setup time. It takes a while to figure out how to set up a network, get it working, etc. This is far more time and trouble than just buying an external drive case.
• Other options are faster and not that much more expensive.
• Time Machine isn't the same over a network. It creates a .sparsebundle file instead of the usual .backups (?) folder. I think it's like an ISO; you can't directly access the files inside it like you normally can. Also, network drives won't save prior versions of files -- or something like that.

Speed
I have a 1Gbps ethernet card on my Hackintosh server. Speed tests say it's ~980 Mbps or 122 MBs/second. At that rate, a 1GB file should transfer in ~8 seconds. But real world tests are *much* (2-5x) slower:

Server→Router→Computer: 24MBs/second.
1GB file → 41 seconds

Server→Computer: 52-63 MBs/second.
1GB file → 18 seconds

A 10Gb network card seems like an obvious upgrade.

It *should* be 10x faster with a direct connection. But that depends on what's causing the slow-down. It would cost another ~$100. And I'd sacrifice internet speed, as the [Server→Router→Computer] setup gives me much faster wired internet ~200-300Gbps vs. WiFi ~80-100 Gbps. (The router ports are 1Gbps)

Options:
1. A 10Gbps (1,250 MBs) network card is about ~$100. That should theoretically improve speeds by 10x. Even a 2x-5x speed increase would match the speed of the HDDs, matching the speed of the HDDs. 10x would match the SSD speeds.

But that assumes the current much-slower-than-expected speeds are caused by the connection.

2. A docking station (TerraMaster or Sabrent) can run from $170-$280. That's $78-$180 more than a new network card. It would largely skip the network, potential 10Gbps speeds (hard drives will capped by their own speeds, i.e. ~1Gbps for HDDs, ~5Gbps for SSDs), and avoid network-related issues like Time Machine.

3. A Thunderbolt bridge between the two computers is theoretically possible. But from what I've skimmed, it's very difficult to get a Thunderbolt card to work on a Hackintosh. And it would probably run ~$145.

4. An M2. NVMe SSD & an enclosure is also a tempting. It would expand *fast* drive space that is directly accessible by the computer at high speeds (10 Gbps / 1,250 MBs), moving the main bottleneck from the server to the Mac. The server could then be used mainly for bulk backup and storage, where speed would matter less.

The main downside is cost. A 2TB MVMe drive is $200-$240, plus $40 for a drive capable of 10Gbps transfer speeds. Some are as fast as 40Gbps (~5,000 MBs/second), but cost $150.——————————————————————————————

[FN1] Photography. For the most part, the primary need is storage, not speed. I have over 2TBs of photos, so they can't all fit on my 2TB Mac Studio. Some files are as large as ~1-2GBs. A single subject like a vacation (which I would edit at one time) can be upwards of 200 GBs. So current network speeds won't work.

Note: much of this hassle is due to the high cost of Apple's SSD storage. I have a 2TB Mac Studio. 4TB would have held all of the data I need fast access to. But increasing that to 4TB would have cost $600. smh
Is this just 1 file, the 1 GB transfer? If it's 10.000 files totalling 1 GB, then it is a different story. Copying 10.000 small files will be much slower than copying 1 big file.
 
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I don't know why your speeds are so bad... I just tried transferring a 1GB file to my NAS and it took about 5 seconds. A 12GB file took about 52 seconds. This is over 10GBase-T.

Your router seems to be a problem. I don't know why its presence slows down your transfers so much.

Hmmm. It's entirely possible I've made a rookie mistake* with the setup and/or how I connect. I'll experiment a bit more tomorrow.

Perhaps the next step is to just try a 10G network router. I found a Hackintosh video which said the Aquantia chip in this card match the one in a 2019 Mac Pro. Seems to be plug and play.

$93 for a ASUS XG-C100C 10G Network Adapter Pci-E X4 Card with Single RJ-45 Port

Plus some CAT8 cables ~$12, just to be sure that's not the problem.

* It occurred to me that my speeds seem closer to WiFi speeds. So I disabled Wifi on my Mac Studio, which killed the network. Aha!? But when I reconnected with WiFi still off, the speeds weren't much different. 10 GBs in 2:20 (71 MBs/s) vs 2:39 (64 MBs/s).
 
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Is this just 1 file, the 1 GB transfer? If it's 10.000 files totalling 1 GB, then it is a different story. Copying 10.000 small files will be much slower than copying 1 big file.

The 1GB file was a single file (a .tiff photo edit).

My 10 GB test was a folder filled with 1,800 files (half photos, half tiny "sidecar" text/data files). But I think this transferred at a faster rate than the 1GB image file.
 
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Maximal theoretical rates are hard to achieve. But the discrepancy points to an issue with your "router".
An upgrade to a 10G-capable switch may be the first step. Some affordable options: Microtik CRS305-1G-4+IN (meant for optical, which is the best way to go for 10G), QNAP QSW-M408 (mixed 10G Base-T/SFP+), Asus XG-U2008 (unmanaged, 2*10G Base-T so only suitable for a NAS and one privileged client… where a direct connection to the NAS could be an option).

Moving up, SMB itself is likely to become another bottleneck. It's single threaded, and not very good at scaling up.

Thank you for the suggestion. I don't have any experience using switches. Would both computers plug into the switch's 10G ports, then the internet router into the 1G port... resulting in both computers having wired internet *and* being connected to one another over the wired 10G network?

If so, that might help down the road. I'm seeing one for ~$97, others more like $130. Amazon was ~$175.

Note: just to avoid any confusion, I currently have a 1G ethernet card on the server, but am thinking I'll try upgrading to a 10G card this week.

On your suggestion I tried using AFP instead of SMB. Possibly a slight speed bump? 85 MBs/s. However I'm seeing some other issues: all but 2 of 8 drives disappeared from the network, and I can't seem to find and connect to them. I'll look into that tomorrow.

And read up on a bit on AFP tomorrow to see if there's a different setup, etc.
 

pastrychef

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Hmmm. It's entirely possible I've made a rookie mistake* with the setup and/or how I connect. I'll experiment a bit more tomorrow.

Perhaps the next step is to just try a 10G network router. I found a Hackintosh video which said the Aquantia chip in this card match the one in a 2019 Mac Pro. Seems to be plug and play.

$93 for a ASUS XG-C100C 10G Network Adapter Pci-E X4 Card with Single RJ-45 Port

Plus some CAT8 cables ~$12, just to be sure that's not the problem.

* It occurred to me that my speeds seem closer to WiFi speeds. So I disabled Wifi on my Mac Studio, which killed the network. Aha!? But when I reconnected with WiFi still off, the speeds weren't much different. 10 GBs in 2:20 (71 MBs/s) vs 2:39 (64 MBs/s).

When testing, I suggest leaving Wi-Fi off. Double check in System Preferences > Network > Ethernet > Advanced... > Hardware to make sure you are connected at 1GBase-T.

Assuming you are just using your drives in JBOD and not in any RAID config, you may not benefit too much from 10GBase-T.

And, yes, a single large file should transfer faster than a bunch of little files. This is also usually true when writing to local HDDs.
 
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Thank you for the suggestion. I don't have any experience using switches. Would both computers plug into the switch's 10G ports, then the internet router into the 1G port... resulting in both computers having wired internet *and* being connected to one another over the wired 10G network?
Correct.

On your suggestion I tried using AFP instead of SMB. Possibly a slight speed bump? 85 MBs/s. However I'm seeing some other issues: all but 2 of 8 drives disappeared from the network, and I can't seem to find and connect to them. I'll look into that tomorrow.
The issue here is that AFP is deprecated and abandoned by Apple. :(

Assuming you are just using your drives in JBOD and not in any RAID config, you may not benefit too much from 10GBase-T.
Fair point, but a 10G switch is a first step in generally updating the home network.
As I understand, it is a very basic setting and the drives are just shared individually. It is possible to set up RAID 0, RAID 1 or even RAID 10 with DiskUtility for performance and/or security; parity arrays would require OMV (or alternatives). Any drive array, of course, implies formatting the drives anew and restoring.
 
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When testing, I suggest leaving Wi-Fi off. Double check in System Preferences > Network > Ethernet > Advanced... > Hardware to make sure you are connected at 1GBase-T.

Assuming you are just using your drives in JBOD and not in any RAID config, you may not benefit too much from 10GBase-T.

And, yes, a single large file should transfer faster than a bunch of little files. This is also usually true when writing to local HDDs.

Thank you for the suggestion and input. Turning off Wifi helped clarify a few things (including some unrelated weirdness*), as did dropping the AFP in favor of just SMB.

I'm not get close to max 1G speeds now!

Network speeds:
Server HDD to MacStudio 10GBs in 1:33 (93s) = 107 MBs /second
Server SSD to MacStudio 10GBs in 1:28 (83s) = 120 MBs /second

For comparison, same server drives copying to server boot drive:
Server HDD to Server 10GBs in 1:09 (69s) = 144 MBs /second
Server SSD to Server 10GBs in 0:35s (35s) = 285 MBs /second

Your point is well taken: a 10GBase-T card only makes sense if I set up a RAID.

I have a couple of pairs of smaller drives** that I could combine to boost speeds and simplify the network. (I could then back up the content to my larger, slower drives and retain similar levels of redundancy).

What's your RAID setup (and how many disks)? From your earlier example (12 GBs in 52 seconds), your transfer rate was about 230 MBs/second.

I'll re-try a direct connection between the Server and Mac Studio later, to see if the bottlenecks return. If not, I'll consider the 10GBase-T card, then set up a RAID.

——————————————————————————————
* 3 older HDDs were showing up in the network, even when not explicitly shared. They were all formatted Mac OS Extended (Journaled). This stopped when I dropped AFP. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

** I have two 2TB HDDs and two 1TB SSDs. (I also have a pair of 6TB drives that I would use for regular, non-RAID backups)
 
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