Mac Mini with OSX Server, Cloud storage, Time Machine and iTunes server.

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Feb 12, 2012
MSI Z77A-G45
GTX 660
  1. MacBook Pro
  2. Mac mini
  3. Mac Pro
Mobile Phone
  1. iOS
I'm just toying with the idea to get a server as I would like to get a few things sorted. My hardware is pretty normal for a MAC household I think, although I probably am just the average Joe here.
Macbook Pro, iPad 3, iPhone 3GS, 4S and 5, and the MAC PRO hack (my Obiwan Shinobi).

What I need:

- central backup facility using Time Machine from the MBP and Hack.
- central iTunes library so at least the MBP and Hack can use that as their source.
- backup (wireless) for the iPad and iPhone pictures
- possibly (cloud) storage and back up of the contacts although this could be safely done via iCloud too I think.

I believe that a Mac Mini where you'd add OS X Server, would be more than enough. I could indeed build another hack (mini) but by the time I am done with the hardware I'm like within 100 euros from a Mac Mini pricewise, so to me, it then doesn't make sense really. The MAC Mini with Core i5, 4GB and 500GB is enough for starters although I would certainly add external hdd's almost immediately. I've already seen 2TB 2.5" drives (WD) so this would certainly either end up inside or attached to the MAC mini.

So as to the central backup facility using TM: AFAIK this will be taken care of by OSX Server.

Central iTune lib: I have read some stuff so in essence you simply copy your current data (in my case from the MBP) to the correct folder on the OSX Server, and the Hack simply is set to use that folder on the Server. I read a guide and it seems fairly easy.

Wireless backup of iPad and iPhone. This is where I start having doubts. In essence iTunes is needed to backup iOS devices. I think this can be done wireless as well. However, I think that this task then needs to be done by the MAC mini server, and not my current MBP.... tips welcome.

Cloud storage: I don't need to be able to get it via internet, it'd be nice but not needed, I rather keep the shields up! But contacts backup etc. and syncing should really be there. I have lost all my contacts a few times on the iPhones and finally caved to get iCloud to store the contacts.
The problem is really the amount of data the photos take as we're using a single iCloud space for syncing, but I'm not going to shell out more dosh for getting a few GB which I know is not going to cut it in the long run.

My last question and issue is what is a good tactic for the large vdo projects I have with iMovie and Garageband. I think it'd be easiest to let Time Machine take care of it, but I am already well on my way to fill 5TB... vdo really explodes in GB when you get to do a bit of stuff...
So instead of manually copying it from the server over to the Hack, just let TM deal with it.... But as you can see... that 500GB hdd on the server is nice but it's going to be full in a little while...

I like the small carbon foot print of the Mac Mini as it only consumes 11W when idle. That's gotta be some kinda record.

If I would not do this on a MAC Mini, I'd build something probably based on the Intel DQ77KB, or, to save a few euros, use the Intel DH61AG board. I like these as they would fit in a specific case, the Lian Li PC-Q05A which I would love to use cuz it just looks so slick. It would offer me the ability to use a 2TB 2.5" hdd so that would be welcome. I am just not sure whether the setup and BIOS is going to be an issue or not. It seems doable from the reports on the board. But like I said: when the dust settles, pricewise the hack won't be far off a MAC mini so I'd stick to that.

Any comments welcome.
I have gone the mac min i route twice and 2 times I have sold the computer on ebay - every time faster than the prior one. The main problem with the mini server is the lack of internal storage expandability. I have even gone with external thunderbolt RAID cards an enclosures. By the time you are done with large amounts of storage, the area you are using with all the equipment and cables is at least twice what it would be otherwise with a single larger box.
I would definitively go down the hack route. You can even schedule on and off times with OS X and the bios.
One of the frustrating things is that I have not been able to reliably configure link aggregation with intel cards under mountain lion server.
Hope you have good luck with your project.
I was almost about to buy a Mac Mini for a home server along with some sort of TB/USB3.0 hard drive enclosure but the cost was just too insane so I opted for a Hackintosh instead. My build is so far $250 USD under a base model Mac Mini with the added bonus of having an internal SSD and 7x 2TB drives in it. (I already had the drives, so that wasn't factored into costing either way)

iOS devices will only backup when plugged in to a computer, if you need wireless backup you should look into iCloud.
Not trying to hijack the thread here, but I use a Synology NAS for Time Machine backups of my hackintosh, iTunes server, and a few other things including Airplay. It's accessible via AFP and has an amazingly good and simple web interface for managing the server. Cloud storage? Check out Cloud Station on Synology. Mobile access? Yep, iOS and Android. Not really relevant to Apple, but I also keep video on it to stream via DLNA to several Xbox units in my house. It really does a lot.

I tried the Mac Mini route like you guys - and I got rid of it. The Synology has been excellent though. Check out its reviews on Amazon and look for Mac comments. I'm sure there are a ton of happy users.
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