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NAS or Mac Mini as a Server?

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Shawn MarshallNAS or Mac Mini as a Server?
by on Dec 4, 2009 at 1:06:15 am


My wife and I run our two-person company out of a home office, and we're looking for a reliable, cost efficient way to back up our files and have shared storage that we both can access for projects. I'm wondering whether a small NAS storage system would be sufficient, or whether we'd be better off setting up a Mac Mini with attached external storage to act as a file server.

We currently have two Mac Pros as workstations. If we're both working on the same project what we'd usually do is keep the project files on one workstation and share that drive on the other. Unfortunately, there have been times when I've restarted, forgetting that my wife has my drives mounted, and it screws up her AE project. You used to get a warning before doing that, but Leopard dropped that warning for no apparent reason.

I also want to have a place to back up all of our project files on a regular basis. I currently use a LaCie utility to back up my project files to an external Firewire drive connected to my MacPro.

If I go NAS, I want something that's easy to set up and use, since I'm not exactly a networking whiz. A Mac Mini would be more expensive, I'd have to work out screen sharing since I can't devote a monitor to it, and it would have to stay on pretty much all the time. It would probably be simple to set up, and I could use it as a render node for our 3D animations.

Any thoughts, suggestions or recommendations?

Thank you.

Shawn Marshall
Marshall Arts Motion Graphics

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Pasi KoivistoRe: NAS or Mac Mini as a Server?
by on Dec 4, 2009 at 1:23:55 am

Well, a Mac Mini is easy to setup and does have the advantage of being able to double as a render node, but do you really want it to start rendering when it's also serving files to 2 people? I think this could really impact the performance of the filesharing. Also since the Mini only has USB and FW which you can attach storage to this might be to slow if you're serving big files.

A NAS has the advantage of being able to do stuff like RAID5 out of the box which adds another layer of security. People seem to like the Netgear ReadyNAS which looks great on paper (never used it myself).

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