Forum Question: Connecting a Mac Mini Server To an Airport Router

I use a MacBook Pro and an Airport Extreme Base Station. But have thought about buying a Mac Mini w/ OS X M.L. Server. The reason being is I am on the road a lot and don’t want to lug around all my external hard drives. So could I connect a Mac Mini Server directly to my AEBS and access my data on it remotely from a Hotel, Aiport or WiFi hotspot? I have also heard you can setup a VPN for a secured connection. So if this is possible, could I also do backups remotely? Also, would the Mac Mini connect to the AEBS via ethernet cable? And what about at home, when my MacBook is connected to the AEBS, will I still be able to access the Server?

Comments: 7 Responses to “Connecting a Mac Mini Server To an Airport Router”

    9/9/12 @ 6:01 pm

    You can do all of this, yes. But there are a lot of details. I don’t think you need to set up a “server” for this if all you need is to access your external drives.
    If you have tons of data files, I suppose this could be a solution. I’m not sure what it is you are trying to access. The “cloud” is what is solving this same problem for a lot of people. It wouldn’t be practical if you have lots of data, but for most people a DropBox account for files, iTunes Match for music, and maybe iCloud for contacts, events, etc.
    A Mac mini connected to your AEBS (wired or wireless, it doesn’t matter) would be accessible outside the house using Back to My Mac or a static IP address. And it would be accessible at home too — it is just file sharing, nothing special.
    As for a VPN, I suppose a Mac server would be good for that — but it really depends on what you want to use a VPN for.

    9/9/12 @ 7:42 pm

    Yeah, I’ve got TB’s of files. Now the reasons I mentioned a Mac Mini Server plus VPN is because I tried hooking up different USB Hubs to my AEBS but they will only work with 1 external hard drive and a printer, but with a Mac Mini Server I will have all those ports at my disposale. So with the VPN thing, I wanted to have a secure connection because my files are very sensitive. However, you mentioned Back to my Mac via the iCloud. I wasn’t aware of this function until now. Gary, you did a good job answering my questions and and gave me a great alternative to VPN. Thanks for you help!

      9/9/12 @ 9:05 pm

      Yes, hooking up a USB drive or a printer to an AEBS is a very different thing than having another computer on the network. With UBS drives you are basically using the AEBS as the computer for that drive, and it is very limited. But a Mac mini can handle anything and the AEBS is just a router in that case — it doesn’t care what the Mac mini has. It is just handling the network traffic.

    9/9/12 @ 9:56 pm

    Hey, Gary. I was just thinking about your last post and wonder if there might be another alternative to a Mac Mini Server via AEBS. If I buy a 3TB Time Capsule and store my files on there as well as use it for backups, then could I use Back to My Mac to remotely access those files (i.e. stream iTunes Movies/Music and access other documents) as well as do Time Machines backups via a Wifi Hotspot?

      9/10/12 @ 6:37 am

      I would not use a TC for backups AND storage. The problem there is you can’t backup the files that are stored on the other half of the drive. Well, you can, but they would be on the SAME drive, which means if the drive failed, you lose your data. Bad idea.

    9/23/12 @ 10:22 pm

    Gary, do you recommend a VPN subscription in order to maintain secure connection while in the internet? I handle many sensitive files back and forth between my clinic and home office and I would like to maintain a high level of security. Thanks.

      9/24/12 @ 6:49 am

      Not sure what you mean by “subscription” — I just use file sharing and screen sharing between my Mac at home and my MacBook while traveling. Is there a specific service you are looking at that facilitates that?

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