What Mac Mini Server Is For

I've been working with Mac hosting for about thirteen years. I tell people about using a Mac mini as a server and they just love the idea of it. There are a lot of great hosting options out there these days, but it's nice to work with a server where the OS is familiar and you know you control the whole stack of hardware and software. Our base Mac mini subscription starts at just $79/mo (that includes the server) so it's much easier to get started.

Five years ago today, I wrote a post about ways you might use a Mac server. I’ve decided to update that list and add some new ones that have come along in the last little while. It’s a mix of Mac apps, open source projects, and iOS tools. Now when you say to yourself “I’d love to try a Mac server but I just don’t know what I’d do with it” then you can take a look at this list. (Have more suggestions? Add them here.)

Use Mac mini as a server. The most popular server features—File Server, Time Machine Server, and Caching Server—are a part of macOS, so it’s easy to use your Mac mini as a server. Click the System Preferences icon in the Dock, then click Sharing to access one or more of the options below. Alloy Desktop Stand for Mac Mini, Tinpec Aluminum Vertical Stands Holder with Anti-Slip Rubber Feet Compatible with Apple MAC Mini 2010-2020 (Space Gray) 4.2 out of 5 stars 198 $23.99 $ 23. Apple Desktop Computer Mac mini Server Aluminum Unibody 2.3GHZ Quad Core i7 (Late 2012) MD389LL/A 4 GB DDR3 1 TB HDD Intel HD Graphics 4000 Sierra 10.12. Model #: NAP12MM; Return Policy: View Return Policy $.

Ways to use your Mac Server

macOS server is in the middle of a big transition, but I'm still including it here. You'll want to be sure to read up on the future roadmap. It's a first party way to run a Profile Manager and Open Directory.

There are a number of ways to use your Mac as a build server. It’s easily the most popular use here at MacStadium. You might look at Jenkins, Buildkite, Teamcity, Veertu, or Gitlab.

Xcode now includes Xcode Server. We have a guide for setting up Xcode 9 Server that may be helpful.

Resilio is a file sync server built on bit torrent technology. It's very good for large files. Here is a tutorial to setup a file server with Resilio on a Mac mini.

Selfoss is a web based RSS reader that is open source and free.

Screens will let you use a Mac from your iPad or iPhone.

Mac Mini Server 2012 Specs

NuoRDS is a scalable terminal server for Mac. Here are some setup instructions.

Hazel is an automation tool that can keep your Mac server clean. (I use it to offload things from Dropbox, make a copy of full resolution images, etc. Just set it up and let it run. It's especially useful for people who use an iOS device full time but want a Mac to do some heavy lifting in the background without much interaction.)

Mini

Sendy is a self hosted service to email your newsletters at a significant discount. Similar to MailChimp.

Guacamole is a client-less remote desktop gateway. You can control your machine without needing a client (and just a browser using HTML5.)

Yourls is a self-hosted URL shortener. It provides stats as well.

Pow lets you create a quick environment to build and test Rails apps.

Use Transmit to access your Mac as a file server. Here’s a short tutorial.

Moodle is a CMS for education.

VirtualHostX lets you setup multiple websites quickly on a Mac. It comes with it's own self-contained Apache web server as well.

Overwatch for mac. MethodCostRequires Windows license?Requires Reboot?Pros and ConsBootcampFreeYesYes✔ Great performance❌ Constant rebootingParallels$79.99YesNo✔ Easy to use❌ Limited performanceNVIDIA GeForce Now$25 for 20 hoursNoNo✔ Excellent performance❌ ExpensiveWineFreeNoNo✔ Absolutely free to use❌Complicated to set upAs Bootcamp and Parallels are the most popular choices, we went ahead and tested Overwatch on both for you. We used our in-house 2014 27-inch iMac with a 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 16 GB RAM and a 2 GB Radeon R9 M290X:All our tests were performed on Low Graphics Quality and 720p resolution (we know, these are surprisingly low settings but we wanted to give Parallels a shot):As expected, Parallels struggled, even on Low settings, while Bootcamp, on the other hand, performed great:Parallels: What went wrong?Parallels is the easiest way to run Windows on Mac.

Owncloud is a replacement for Dropbox, but also provides calendar, contacts and so much more.

Plex lets you stream all your media to your phone/tablet/Macs/etc.

FileMaker is a powerful database server. Very Powerful. Run it for yourself or as a paid service for others.

Kerio is a powerful Mail server. A very good alternative to Exchange.

Run a Minecraft Server of your own.

uTorrent is a simple torrent client.

What mac mini server is for mac

ServerPilot makes it simple and fast to create and maintain Wordpress installs. Built for DigitalOcean, but works great on a Mac mini with Ubuntu.

MAMP will help you setup a WordPress blog quickly with PHP and mySQL.

DNS Enabler lets you run your own DNS server.

BBpress is clean forum software from the makers of WordPress.

Discourse is a platform to build a community. It's modern and free for self hosted. We use Discourse for our own community site.

Simon is an application that will monitor all sorts of servers and services and notify you if they're down.

Mac Mini Server Farm

iStat Server will let you keep an eye on your Mac server.

Asterisk is an open source VOIP server.

Deep Freeze will let you really hack on your machine, and bring it back clean with a restart.

Nagios will keep an eye on your infastructure.

VMware ESXi will let you install and run multiple instances of OS X on the same server (and we'll install it for you when you start a Mac mini subscription.)

Pancake is a seller self hosted app for invoicing and billing clients.

GridRepublic or Warrior will let you put your extra server power to good use.

Tell us how you use your Mac server

Do you have more software suggestions? Feel free to add them as a comment on our community forum. (And don’t be shy about sending your own software. We’re always happy to work with developers.)

Sure. Lion Server is just a layer -- apps and services -- on top of regular Lion client. You can turn the services off and toss the apps if you want. There's an Apple article about that: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4827

Mac Mini Server Setup


I have Mini Server that splits time for some server services and as a desktop; so I'll just say that the one server services that requires a bit more to turn off is the DNS, which gets setup automatically by the server setup wizard. But it should not be a big deal.


Mini Server is quad core i7 2.0ghz. It's faster than my 13' MBP i7 2.7ghz dual core for CPU intensive tasks. Both have the integrated Intel GPU and have 8GB RAM. Used to be PS could benefit from a faster dedicated GPU like the faster regular Mini that has an AMD GPU; it's probably still is true.


The Intel GPU (on the Mini server and my MBP) is fine for my work in PS, which is mostly retouching and correction. I don't do heavy design work in PS. I do some basic cutting in FCP Studio (last version) also with no complaints, again my needs are modest.

Mar 29, 2012 4:15 AM

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