View Full Version : Need a cheap "server" storage solution

01-26-2005, 09:51 AM
Here's a small, upcoming project I was thinking of, and wanted to see if my thinking was off base.

My wife and I have a freelance design business. I am looking to set a computer (not sure which one yet) mainly as an archiving station... something where old projects can live, and be accessed when needed.

I guess I could always set up file sharing and let the other macs use that, but is there a better way to set it up so the macs see the "archive mac" as a server?

let me know if I am overthinking this or not.

I am looking for a solution that doesn't require me to buy any new software or hardware, really. The most likely candidate for this project is an old Beige G3, which is running OS 10.3 (upgraded to a G4 400, not alot of RAM, yet.)

01-29-2005, 08:18 PM

Hmmm...I don't know nearly as much about OS X as I would like or should, but...

Unix by nature is both server and workstation...fundamentally there's no difference. Now, I don't know whether this is true with OS X as Apple may have engineered restrictions into the desktop OS. Thus, I don't know the degree to which you can set up a NFS (network file server) or the like on your machine.

That having been said, I'd say just run an FTP server on the beige beast and be done with it.

I just took a quick look and there does appear to be a product available to do just this:


Maybe not the most elegant solution...in that ftp is a pretty anonymous affair and will not offer all the permissions finesse that a real file server solution could (though you can likely set up directories for "read only" or both "read and write"....but this would seem to fit the bill if you've already got an OS X beast ready to do the job. Also, it would seem that permissions issues (i.e., typically situations with lots of users) is not a major concern here if it's just you and your wife.



01-29-2005, 09:06 PM

I would not build a server without redundancy!
You are running a business and your data is your money!
You can run a RAID1 instead of RAID5 wich means 2x ATA drives at least to save money.
But you will need an "offline" backup in every way.

you should consider:

1. Price
How much would you spend for how much storage space?
For a File, Web or Pirnt server you don't need OSX Server.

2. Safety
RAID5 (One drive can fail and your data is ok) is fine but not cheap but you also need a Backup.

3. Performance
Get as much as you can! The Servers RAM configuration is important running a UNIX based system like Linux or OSX. It could be a performance leap to up the RAM.

The following system is not the way you want yours, but it figures out some things that you want to have too, I think.

I setup a B&W 450 as a fileserver with 10.2.8.

G3 450MHz 1MB cache
ATTO UL3D in 66MHz slot
2x Asante 100MBit (Full Duplex) Ethernet cards
EasyRAID 8 bay Tower 2xPS 2xU320 128MB cache
(it is an OEM Raid tower you can find it from different companys)

8x160GB Samsung SP1614 drives set as 2 RAID5 arrays 4 drives each.
2 channel Setup, each RAID5 has one channel of the UL3D.
Each RAID5 has two volumes, SYSTEM and DATA so you have the RAID5 plus a working system backup even if the first system volume fails.

The B&W is running 10.2.8 NOT 10.2 Server and
it is as reliable and stable as the server version.

If you take a look "under the hood" of X Server you will see, it is just the same system-core. X Server has some additional tools (GUI's) to to admin, create users and config services easier. But also, you can setup users over the terminal. If you want the "easy way" buy a copy of SharePoints to have the same easy user and volumes config as in ASIP.

This Mac is serving 5 Macs (Beige G3 to G5 System 8.6 to X.3) without a single problem since 1 year. She is a self-employed person so she must have a running system.

We bought a used B&W from ebay and equipped it with the same hardware as a spare system. If the B&W fails, just connect the spare G3 and you are back in business.

Drive throughput RAID5
(measured with a stopwatch, folder copy from the first to the second RAID)

B Read: 142MB/s Write: 112MB/s
W Read: 132MB/s Write: 101MB/s

B&W Server OS10.2.8 to G4 QS Dual 800MHz OS9 TCP/iP 100MBit FD
(measured with a stopwatch, 980MB folder copy from and to the server)

B Read: 19.2MB/s Write: 18.6MB/s
W Read: 17.9MB/s Write: 17.1MB/s

If all Macs are transferring files to and from the server at the same time
B&W Server OS10.2.8 to G4 QS Dual 800MHz OS9 TCP/iP 100MBit FD
A G3 MT 300 OS 8.6 was transferring files over AppleTalk not over TCP/iP
(measured with a stopwatch, 980MB folder copy from and to the server)

B Read: 13.4MB/s Write: 11.8MB/s
W Read: 11.6MB/s Write: 10.1MB/s

Best and worst out of 20 runs each.

All three Ethernet ports are connected to three Asante switches, each switch has two clients attached.

in addition

the entire data is stored each night to a Lacie FW 500GB
and weekly to another Lacie FW 500GB drive for backup.

At the moment only 300Gigs form 900Gigs of the Raid is used.
If the data grows over 500GB's she will use both Lacie's
for the nightly backups.

The backup is running automatically from a script.



01-29-2005, 09:36 PM

info about RAID and RAID levels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redundant_array_of_independent_disks)



01-29-2005, 11:42 PM
Lotsa good points there!

RAM certainly: maxxing out a beige G3 (768MB, IIRC) isn't going to be that much $$.

A question that needs to be asked is how much "traffic"...users and files moved...do you expect? If it's a two person shop and you're not shovelling around 500MB Photoshop files all day long, then I'd say you can be pretty modest about drives...maybe forgo the RAID, but add an external FireWire drive (1394 drives and PCI host cards are pretty inexpensive) for periodic backups.

Nicholas makes a good point: you definitely do want to do something: nightly CD burns, maybe an external drive to offload files once or twice a day...and you _always_ gotta back things up.

RAID would certainly be the best way to go both in terms of building basic data redundancy into the system and for performance, but you'll definitely have to think about forking over some dough. There are people on this list (for instance, Nicholas) who are much more familiar with RAID than I so there may be simple/inexpensive solutions as well (e.g., mirroring two internal drives for redundancy).

01-30-2005, 06:28 AM

I thought of your server setup a little bit :)

1. You can use a AHARD (ACARD Hardware RAID card) or an SATA card that support RAID1. If you don't want to spend money on a hardware RAID card use OSX's Software RAID1, it is not as good than hardware but better than nothing.

RAID1 is mirroring if one drive fails you have the all your data on the second one. Redundancy at low cost.

If you have two 250GB drives you will only have 250GB of storage with RAID1.

2. Backup your data to an external FW drive.

3. By at least a surge protector for the server!

4. The server should have 512MB of RAM

5. Run OSX 10.2.6 (10.2.8 is not as stable for this use on a Beige)

6. Buy SharePoints if you want an easy way to setup your shared folders.

7. Buy a 100MBit Ethernet card (a good one wich supports Full Duplex Mode)

8. You need an FW PCI card to connect the external drive

9. If you have a router and a cable modem or DSL apply MAC filtering. Each Ethernet card has it's own address and only ports with addresses listed in your router can access the network!

10. Don't use the RAID1 for your OSX installation use it only for your data!

I think that is the most favorable config for your server.
You can install OSX set it up and load your files on it without RAID and Backup. To recover your data from a single drive can cost more than $10.000 if it fails. The friend, I told from, paid 2100 Euros for recovering of an 2.6GB MO media to an international service.

MO media was her storage for years but the drives costs now up to 2800 Euros only two brands (5 1/4) are left Sony and Maxoptix. She has bought a new drive only to copy the data (82 cartridges) to the Server.

So, keep that in mind, recovering is more costly than prevention!



02-04-2005, 08:01 AM
Thought you would enjoy Mac-Mini as web server (http://i-newswire.com/pr5117.html) able to serve over 2000 hits per second.

02-07-2005, 08:53 PM
Man, that is something! ...though I wonder how long it (i.e., the machine) would last? ;-)

Heh. 2,000 hits/second is a non-trivial load...one that most commercial web sites would _love_!

Although, if you've got a simple site, this is a very good point. Can't beat the price, that's for sure!

Oh, the reason for the "Heh" above is that if you've got a site that's regularly receiving 2000 hits a second...say for 8 hours a day...you've got plenty of motivation for getting a _couple_ XServes and clustering them: odds are you'll be able to find advertisers! ;-)

Obviously, the authors were using those numbers as benchmark/test values...

As the authors note, it's likely suitable for 80% (if not more would be my guess) of the sites out there. This is no doubt also in the case of static (i.e., non-dynamic/database driven/web application) pages. Results could be radically different for a web app in that the level of complexity could go up very rapidly (i.e., RAM usage could significantly increase). Complex database queries raise the bar big-time. I'm going to add a quick thread on this...here.