Three reasons why you should run your own Mac server

“When it comes to technology, the word ‘server’ might bring to mind, for some, a warehouse-sized room not unlike the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with fewer crates and more racks of computers,” Dan Moren writes for Macworld. “For others it might be the cause of sweaty palms and glazed-over eyes.”

“But servers don’t need to be mysterious or scary — after all, a server is just a computer that serves up information (and/or services) that can be accessed by other computers,” Moren writes. “Sure, it can get more complex than that, but it can also be a fairly simple and invaluable tool.”

Moren writes, “I run a Mac mini server on my home network for a handful of reasons that are fairly mundane, but all of which help at least provide some peace of mind, especially when I’m not in the house.”

Three reasons to run your own Mac server:
• The portal
• The media
• The vault

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Do you run a home server? We do – for media, backup, VPN and more.

How to turn a Mac mini into a media server with Plex – December 28, 2015


  1. Last time there was a “server” article like this i was fooled into thinking it could help me save downloading the same software update over and over again for the six iPhones and six iPads I need to update in my family. I quickly forked over my $20 bucks to buy OSX Server. It does no such thing! I still have to download the exact same “update” (all of 2 to 6 GB of it!!) for each device over and over.

    1. So what, it’s $20. You’re going to need the specific version of iOS for your device. Look at the developer versions. They have multiple different versions for each build based on the device. They usually have at least 3 for a single model of iPad (cellular ATT, other cellular, wifi only). So even if you were able to do this, you would need to have all the same exact hardware versions.

  2. I have one at work for our department (at a university) for two reasons. One is the usefulness (as listed by MDN’s take) and the other is that it really seems to piss off the IT department – they are a windows shop that have spent years trying to eliminate anything Mac related. Fortunately, the students refuse to obey and are heavy Mac users (plus the IT’ers are a bunch of old farts that are now retiring).

  3. no, using a Mac as a server is screwed by Apple. OSX El Capitan disabled the ability to never sleep. So my Mac Pro always goes to sleep and web services, etc are unavailable. I tried caffeinate, pinging the server, making it run programs to stay awake, but the damn thing still goes to sleep. I need a monkey to tap on the keyboard every hour to maintain services. I have two apps from the App Store, anti-sleep and caffeinate that do help, but sometimes they quit (crash?) and the server goes to sleep after that.

  4. I run Mac Server on my 27″ iMac which has a big-ass external HD attached to it. The primary use of the Mac Server is to run Time Machine as a server app so that I can backup my wife’s iMac as well as mine through our home network. The external HD serves as the backup disk for Time Machine. The system work great and Mac Server is a piece of cake to use.

    My wife also run a Mac Server in her law office. The server is running on an old Mac Pro tower loaded with multi-TB HDs. (God I love the old Mac Pro towers). That server is primarily a file server for the office and it works flawlessly even with 10-15 client machines using it.

    1. One thing I forgot to mention about the Mac Server in the office, it also serves as the file server for a couple Windows machines, one running Vista (yes some folks still use Vista) and one running W7. It also works flawlessly as a Windows file server.

  5. That article is not so great. If you’re telling people to set up a VPN, why wouldn’t you just use screen sharing over the VPN?
    If you know firewall trickery? You should never open the default vnc port to the internet unless you want a bunch of people poking at your home network all day long. That’s what his article sounded like, anyway.

  6. I run a Mac mini for 3 main things:
    1. File shares
    2. TimeMachine (4 Macs)
    3. OS X Server’s Caching service (4 Macs, 3 iPads, 3 iPhones, 1 Apple Watch, iTunes Family Sharing of media and lots of apps).
    My firewall handles VPN access.

  7. I used to be inclined towards the Mac Server, but after years af neglect by Apple I get the impression that the safest way forward is in the form of a good NAS for most home uses and Linux for everything else.

    OS X is BSD at heart but it lacks some of the core features you want for servers, such as jails to isolate what you’re serving out. The other issue I have is that OS X isn’t great at being virtualised and its kernel doesn’t have any native hypervisor capabilities AFAIK.

    Sure OS X server is easy to use, but it is now glitchy and there are no assurances of its future as The SL-Lion transition showed us.

    1. According to the licensing, you can only virtualize OS X on Apple hardware, not a generic Intel box. If you want to keep an older version running, or test out a newer version, it’s dandy, but that’s why there are Mac native virtualization apps.

      As far as new versions of server, the one thing that truly baffles me is that they clearly want people to use or move to SMB for file sharing, yet the Server logs interface provides no SMB logs.

  8. I am running a Mac Mini server. Am I the only one that has every Time Machine back up get corrupted after a few days or weeks. It happens to every Mac I back up to it.

  9. I suppose I run a “server.” It’s a PowerMac G5 running Leopard that sits (hidden) behind my HDTV. It has a large amount of storage capacity to serve as my network “data dump.”

    I also use it for web-browsing on the large TV screen. Thanks to the excellent Ten Four Fox, its web browsing is as compatible as any recent Mac (as long as I stay away from Flash-based videos). Since it’s next to my audio equipment, I input analog audio into it (from tape, vinyl, and TV source) to digitize using an older version of GarageBand. It’s old but a 2.0 GHz dual-core PowerPC G5 is still decently powerful.

    Control is through a standard Bluetooth keyboard, which works fine at typical “TV” distance. I can also control it through screen sharing on my primary Mac. The network connection is fast; there is almost no “lag” when screen sharing.

    As with many things Apple, I’d be happy to replace it with something newer, but I don’t feel an urgent or compelling need to do so… 🙂

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