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Review: Apple Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server

The Apple Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server is well designed for small businesses needing simple centralized administration of critical functions.

Small businesses needing shared calendaring and contacts, secure file sharing, email hosting and more would be well served to consider Apple's Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server. The specially packaged unit can power office operations whether users have Windows machines, Macs and/or mobile devices.

Specifications

  • Product: Apple Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server
  • Operating system: Mac OS X Server v10.6 Snow Leopard
  • CPU: 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
  • RAM: 4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • Storage: Dual 500GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drives
  • Network: Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
  • Licensing: Unlimited client licenses; no additional client access user or email licenses required
  • Dimensions: 2"H x 6.5"W x 6.5"D; 2.9 pounds
  • Price: $999
  • More Info: Apple Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server
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Who's it for?

Apple's Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server is well designed for deployment within small businesses. Many organizations needing simple, low-cost centralized administration of critical functions will find the Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server a creative solution to common technology needs.

Specifically, smaller offices in need of shared calendaring, shared contacts, email services, secure file sharing and simplified collaboration (especially for mobile staff using iPhones and iPads) will find Apple's basic server solution quite capable and cost-effective. The package should not be considered by mid-size or enterprise firms, unless single departments or workgroups are to be serviced.

What problem does it solve?

The Apple Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server powers critical office operations-shared calendaring, file sharing and email-using a single, simple, easy-to-administer package. Apple's entry-level server combines the power of its Mac OS X server operating system with the simplicity of a Mac Mini. Complicated server deployments, complex licensing structures and space-consuming tower servers are all headaches of the past.

Standout features

  • Powerful server operating system: Apple's Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server is a tremendously capable operating system. The NOS is capable of administering users and groups, powering shared calendaring, enabling email, hosting Web sites, backing up data and much more.
  • Simple hardware configuration: IT staff will encounter no complex and unending combinations of confusing hardware configurations when purchasing a Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server. Instead, Apple's already dictated most all of the choices available, including stripping out an optical drive in favor of a second 500GB hard disk. A SuperDrive can be added for $99, while an external Promise SmartStor DS4600 4x1TB RAID 5 array adds $799. Other configuration options include adding video adapter cables, AppleCare protection and Apple Remote Desktop licensing. That's it.
  • Low cost: At a thousand dollars, including hardware, the server OS and unlimited client access and email licenses, the Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server costs much less than comparable Windows solutions to implement and maintain.
  • Simplified administration: Apple's built its reputation for quality products that revolutionize the way people use technology, in part, because it's simplified the process of interacting with that very technology. Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server is no exception. The server OS makes it easier (compared to open source- or Windows-based server operating systems) to create user accounts, assign permissions, securely share files, deploy an email server and maintain those systems.

What's wrong?

  • No optical drive: Give Apple credit for having the backbone to be among the first to eliminate optical drives, first from its MacBook Air line and now from its Mac Mini server. Mac OS X makes it easier to access optical drives in other Macs, but many administrators will still want an optical drive local to the server. Many offices will find themselves having to add a SuperDrive, adding 10% to the unit's cost.
  • Limited expansion: Literally, there's no room to add additional drives or more RAM within the Mac Mini case. Administrators whose offices outgrow the Mac Mini server will find themselves having to migrate to a more expensive Mac Pro; there's no buying time by upgrading components inside the Mac Mini.

Competitive Products

Bottom line for business

Apple's Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server offers small organizations powerful and secure network services in a simplified chassis. Further, the server solution provides a cost-effective method for fulfilling these critical technology needs.

User rating

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

2 comments
jkiernan
jkiernan

It's true that the internal components are pretty much set in stone, but to expand total storage, the server will accept any external USB drive just like other modern computers. I've seen several external terabyte drives attached to a Mac Mini server, both standalone and RAID. It doesn't have to be a Promise SmartStor DS4600 as mentioned in the story.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What brand was the last server you purchased? Have you considered the Apple Mac Mini Server?

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