How To

Bring an Old Mac to Life with OS X Server

Posted on May 11th, 2016 by Kirk McElhearn
Bring an Old Mac to Life with OS X Server
You ’ ve surely heard the bible “ server. ” It ’ s a character of computer that broadly provides or manages services. For model, this web site is hosted on a web server, a computer running specific software that can respond to browser requests and send web pages to users anywhere on the internet. You send email through a chain mail waiter, a calculator with software that routes email to and from your bill. And a file server is a computer set up as a receptacle for files, so other users can connect to it and copy files to and from it.

A server is nothing more than a standard calculator ; what differentiates it from a “ node ” computer—such as the one you ’ ra working on—is its software and its ability to receive and process connections and requests .
You may not realize it, but your Mac is a server besides. It contains all the software you need to host websites, wield electronic mail, serve files, and much more. All you need to do is turn on these “ services. ” Apple makes this in truth easy ; you can buy the OS X Server app ( for $ 20 ) from the Mac App Store, and tweak a few settings, and then turn your Mac into a server in minutes .
OS X Server runs on any Mac that runs El Capitan, even an honest-to-god Mac. Most users don ’ t need a waiter, but I ’ m going to explain a few reasons why you might want to bring an old macintosh to life with OS X Server. You don ’ t need a fast Mac for these tasks ; I use a five-year old Mac mini as my server ( the only prerequisite is that it be able to run El Capitan and have at least 2 GB RAM ). It ’ sulfur cheap, easy to set up, and offers a lot of advantages .

Download and Install OS X Server

start by purchasing the OS X Server app from the Mac App Store. When you ’ ve downloaded it to your erstwhile Mac, launch the app and follow its instructions. You ’ ll need to choose a identify for the server, and you ’ ll be asked to enter your Apple ID and password to use certain services. Server will take a couple of minutes to do its duties, then it ’ ll be ready .
You ’ ll detect that Server is an app. You use this app to configure, pull off, and control services. You ’ ll want to install it on your waiter to manage that computer, but you may besides want to install it on another Mac, the one you use casual. You can run your OS X server “ brainless, ” without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse, and control it, using the Server app, from another Mac .
If you want to work with a brainless server, test immediately, from your early Mac, to connect to your waiter. Open the Server app, and see if your server is listed. If not, try clicking “ other Mac ” and entering its master of ceremonies mention, in the form name.local. then if you named your waiter MyServer, you would enter MyServer.local. You ’ ll use the lapp exploiter list and password that was already set up on that Mac to authenticate .
Choose Mac to manage using Server
When the Server app opens, you ’ ll see an Overview screen, along with a fortune of options in the sidebar .
OS X Server overview
I won ’ t spirit at all of them ; you can find out more about the available services on Apple ’ s OS X Server Tutorials foliate. I ’ thousand going to look at three services in this article :

  • Caching
  • File Sharing
  • Time Machine


This service lets your server keep copies of updates and apps you download to your Macs and io devices. These devices don ’ t need to be configured ; they automatically discover the server, and downloads go through the server, are stored there, then get passed on to the devices .
If you have more than one Mac or io device, any apps or updates you download will be cached, or stored on the server, so the other devices don ’ t need to download them. This saves you time and bandwidth. however, for io devices, this merely works with updates for the demand lapp exemplar of a device ; a hoard update to iOS for your iPad won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate work on your iPhone, and an iPhone 6s update won ’ t work on an iPhone SE .
All you need to do to turn this on is chink “ Caching ” in the sidebar, and toggle the throw to On. You can besides choose to cache iCloud Data, if you wish. At the buttocks of the Caching acid, you choose how much space you want the cache to use. As you can see in the under double, my server is presently using 32.9 GB, and that ’ s for two Macs and respective io devices ; the server has been running since El Capitan was released last descend. So you could set, say, 50 GB for hoard, and be more than comfortable .

File Sharing

You may not need to use the File Sharing service, but if you want a centralized storage placement for files on your network, you can activate this serve. Click “ File Sharing ” in the sidebar, toggle the switch to On, and then add folders in the Shared Folders section.

You can connect one or more external drives to your server, so you can have about unlimited storage for your files. I use it, among other things, for my television collection, using Plex. This software runs on my server, and allows me to view television on my Apple television, my Macs, my io devices, and even remotely .
good remember, any files that you store on the waiter motivation to be backed up .
RELATED: Intego Personal Backup Compared with Apple’s Time Machine

Time Machine

One accompaniment with Intego Personal Backup is good ; a second backup with Time Machine is flush better. OS X Server lets you back up your Macs over your network to the server. so if you have one or more laptops in your family, you can set them to back up mechanically to Time Machine on the server, rather than worrying about connecting external hard drives to them for backup .
Click “ Time Machine ” in the sidebar, toggle the switch to On, and then choose a finish. If you can, devote an integral external hard drive to Time Machine ; the more distance you provide to Time Machine, the more backups it will be able to store .
On each of the Macs you want to back up, open the Time Machine acid of System Preferences, click Select Disk, and you ’ ll see that the Mac automatically shows you the Time Machine disk on the server. Select it, and your backups will go to the server .

Managing the Server

You can manage the server ’ randomness specific services using the Server app, but there are early management tasks you may need to perform, such as installing software updates or managing files. You can do this remotely using OS X ’ s Screen Sharing .
To do this, from another Mac, choose Go > Network  in the Finder ( or you can press and hold, UpCommandK ). Double-click the server, and then click “ Share Screen. ” Enter the drug user identify and password for the waiter, and you ’ ll be able to see your waiter ’ randomness sieve as if you were in front of it .
One thing I find useful is to use a display copycat on my server ; it ’ s a bantam dongle that I plug into the HDMI port, which changes the resolution so it ’ randomness easier to see. If you don ’ thymine practice this, you can only view the server in one resolution in screen sharing .
once you ’ ve connected with Screen Sharing, you can manage such things as updates ( through the Mac App Store app, if you haven ’ thymine turned on automatic updates ), and you can move files around, if you have more than one phonograph record connected to the server .
The mind of setting up a server may seem complicated, but with OS X it ’ s quite simpleton. As you ’ ve seen above, there are some bang-up ways you can use OS X Server, even taking advantage of an old Mac that ’ s just gathering dust .
Try it out ! You may find that it makes your computing life a bit easier.

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About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Apple products and more on his blog Kirkville.
He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast, as well as several other podcasts, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications.
Kirk has written more than two dozen books, including Take Control books about Apple’s media apps, Scrivener, and LaunchBar.
Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn.
View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →

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