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Using OS X as a File Server for a Network

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Using OS X As a File Server: Selecting the Mac to Use

For most of us, this decision will be determined by the Mac hardware we happen to have lying around. Luckily, a file server doesn’t need a great deal of processing power in order to perform effectively. For must uses, a G4 or later Mac will more than suffice.

That being said, there are a few hardware specs that would help our file server perform at its best.

Hardware Needs

  • Network speed. Ideally, your file server should be one of the faster nodes on your network. This will help ensure it can respond to requests from multiple Macs on the network in a timely fashion. A network adapter that supports Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) should be considered the minimum. Luckily, even that old G4 should have this capability built in. If your network supports Gigibit Ethernet, then one of the later model Macs with built-in Gigibit Ethernet would be an even better choice.
  • Memory. Surprisingly, memory is not an important factor for a file server. Just make sure you have enough RAM to run Leopard without bogging down. One GB of RAM would be the minimum; 2 GB should be more than sufficient for a simple file server.

  • Desktops make better servers, but a laptop will work as well. The only real problem with using a laptop is that its drive and internal data buses are not designed to be speed demons. You can get around some of these issues by using one or more external hard drives connected via FireWire. By the way, the same slower hard drive and data buses are present in the Mac mini, since the mini uses laptop components. So, if you’re going to turn a Mac mini into a file server, plan on using external hard drives with it as well.

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