Simple NAS box for File Server functions?

My Apple File Server software is hopelessly out of date and has been neutered so much in recent months that it is barely hanging on as our file server running on a Mac Mini. I would like to move up to something that is more robust but easy to use. I just need to be able to have folders for everyone and for various projects with varying levels of permissions for people and groups. Any suggestions for something in the $5,000 or less range?

I would definitely recommend Synology. We implemented a RackStation 815+ here with RAID configuration earlier this year and I can only say it is a stunningly good product and very competitively priced too.

However, I would also say, think carefully about what else you are using the MacMini for. We have retained ours as we rework the network structure in order to maintain the complex set of services we were operating. The MacOS server was very good as a one-stop-shop, does-everything needed for a small network. However, now that Apple have deprecated the product, it does involve a lot of work rejigging other systems to do everything the MacMini server did previously.

On that note, has anyone out there got experience of integrating Macs into Active Directory? Could do with some help.

1 Like

Are you open to cloud solutions at all? We have all of this with Office 365 using Sharepoint, OneDrive, or even Azure Files.


I’d second Adam’s suggestion to look at cloud solutions. Especially if you use MS widely (having a Mac Mini server may indicate otherwise!), it could be a smooth solution.

We have an onsite file server (PowerEdge server with DAS PowerVault storage) which is mainly for our video guys - but more widely we use Google Drive File Stream.

1 Like

Synology NAS would be a good option. For smaller files and MS Office documents, I would also go with Adam’s suggestion of storing/sharing them on Sharepoint or OneDrive since it is free and each user has 1TB to work with.

Thanks Dave and Adam, I actually have been thinking about a cloud solution as we have recently upgraded our available bandwidth and we have offices in multiple locations spread around a 4 block radius in downtown Honolulu. I simply need to help Admin overcome their jitters to venture in that direction and to have recurring costs. I moved our Exchange Server over to Rackspace a number of years ago and all went well. I would like to move another server out of my 4 ft. x 10 ft. “server closet.”

As an ICT And Telecoms Consultant, I would strongly advise against using a Cloud-bases solution unless your Internet uplink speed is >50Mbit/s. If you have been using a Mac mini, it has a 1Gbit/s LAN connection speed, so you will have good performance despite the loading of users. If you switch to just a Cloud file server solution over a DSL connection, then you will have even worse performance issues that you currently have now, especially if you are doing anything that has large files such as video or files with large photos/graphics such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Quark, Photoshop, or any kind of interactive database (unless it is web-based) etc. You also need to consider the security implications of storing information off-site. Using remote cloud services as a back-up is fine, but not as a real-time file-server unless you have the connection bandwidth to make it work properly.

Here at the charity I work at, up until Feb this year we <1Mbit/s uplink speed even with dual-WAN connection, so just sending an email with a <10Mbit/s attachment could take 10-15 minutes to send, even with just 7 active users on the network. The Synology was implemented before we were able to upgrade our WAN services. Now we have 40Mbit/s uplink, which is manageable for now, but I would still not use Cloud-based file services as the bandwidth is insufficient to support what our users are doing on a daily basis. The Synology is a solid reliable solution, even if it does add some complexity to the network infrastructure.

Is there any way you can post a diagram of your network connectivity between your various sites? It is more important to review your network infrastructure first before embarking on any File Server considerations.

1 Like

I have a 10 Meg uplink and OneDrive, Sharepoint, O365 works great for us. I have 20+ computers that sync regularly. What I do not recommend cloud for is continual media data, like video.

OneDrive sync takes a while with these type of files, having nothing to do with the upload speed but how the client functions.

We went with a blended environment. Because O365, OneDrive, Sharepoint is free we use it for everything but video, which is then hosted on a small file server internally that I then backup offsite using Carbonite, which runs anytime there are file changes.

We do sync Propresenter, all “office” type documents, PowerPoint, photos, Keynote and many others using Sharepoint & OneDrive. I setup some folders that sync across multiple computers so those creating files used on a Sunday can just drop them in the folder on their computers, let it sync and the rest of the computers get it as soon as OneDrive does the sync again.

When we went with O365, we had many worried about the security of church data. It’s considered business service and the licensing and agreement (how data is treated) is not the same as the free solutions, which give you no security basically.

Cloud has its benefits and downsides, as does a local file storage solution. Find one that works best for you. A simple NAS box with a few 6 TB drives mapped across a GIG connection works well.

1 Like

@Russ makes a good point about the importance of your internet connection to whether a cloud solution works well. Under almost any circumstances (better than dial-up) I’d say a cloud solution is pretty workable for normal documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint too…though this last one can get hefty), but heavier files - such as the original design files (as opposed to say a JPG/PNG) and video files both can be quite large.

I think you could probably get away nicely with having design files on a cloud server with a decent internet connection (25+ Mbps), but video files are a pain.

If your editors are doing the edits on their local workstations, then you don’t have to worry as much about speed. But if they are working offer the server, you’ll need 500 MB/s+ to satisfy their needs, something you aren’t going to get via an internet connection.

As I mentioned previously, we do have an onsite server. This is for the video guys and can also sync the drives from the cloud locally. That might be an option as well. How much data are you working with? Adding annually?

royce - drop me an email to and I’ll email you back a spreadsheet for you to fill out some data about your current sites, workstations and kit, etc. so I can get a feel for how it all hangs together. I can then give you some suggestions as to how to link everything together to create a solid foundation network to grow from.