[box type=”tick” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Download the Using Apple OS X Lion Server at Home eBook Now

If you’ve been enjoying our Using Apple OS X Lion Server as a Home Server series, then make sure you pick up a copy of the accompanying eBook. You’ll find additional chapters and information on using OS X Lion Server to power your digital home that won’t be available here on the site, and with all of our walkthroughs available in one convenient document (ePub or PDF), it’s far easier to install and configure your server without having to click backward and forwards to the website.

Buy Using OS X Lion Server at Home – £14.99

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[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Articles in this series…

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If you’ve been following our series of articles on using Apple’s all-new OS X Lion Server as a home server over the last couple of weeks, you’ll have been waiting eagerly for this part – yes, having looked closely at our hardware selection, features and the Lion Server App itself, it’s time to get the server configured.

If you’ve worked with Windows Home Server previously, configuring an OS X Server will illustrate that when it comes to configuration (especially remote access configuration), you’ve been spoiled – Windows Home Server does a lot of configuration behind the scenes. Whilst there’s nothing horribly complicated about configuring OS X Lion Server – most readers of this website will have the skills required to get up and running, especially with this walkthrough guide – there are a few requirements that mean you’ll need to get a little closer to the metal than you may have been used to. But that’s fun, right? Let’s dive in.

1. Storage

I mentioned in an earlier part of the series that I’d be evaluating the use of a Drobo to extend the storage of the iMac we’re using for our Lion Server. Quite a few of you posted comments questioning the reasons for selecting that particular piece of kit, so I’ll recap. With just a 1TB hard drive on board the iMac, and a desire to create a centralised repository of data on the server for shared data and backups, we’ll definitely need to increase the storage. Ideally, I’d go for a Thunderbolt powered storage array, but they’re either hugely expensive or not yet available on the market (LaCie tells me their Thunderbolt Little Big Disk is shipping next month, so hope exists).

So, other options include a Firewire 800/USB attached disk or storage array. It just so happens that I have a Drobo S on hand as a review unit, and its BeyondRAID storage technology offers a number of enhancements over standard RAID enclosures, including the ability to mix and match drives. On the flipside, popular criticism online suggests file access and transfers can be slow – so that’s what we’ll be checking out. I may switch the Drobo out for another choice in the future, depending on performance but I’ll let you know.

So, to set up the Drobo, you install your disks (in my case, 2 x 2TB Western Digital Green Power drives and a 1TB Seagate I had spare), plug in (I went for the Firewire 800 option), power on and install the Drobo Dashboard software – note that Drobo have recently released an update for their Dashboard software which enables support for OS X Lion. It’s available on their website. Always check the web for a software update before installing off a disk, that’s my top tip for the day.

Once installed, your Mac will spot the array and complain that it can’t read the disks – that’s fine, as we still need to format them, which we do with the Drobo Dashboard software. Open it up and you’ll be invited to format the array.

   

In truth, the drive formatting failed twice for some reason, which doesn’t inspire huge confidence, but third time lucky and the storage was made available. Note that 5TB of storage buys you around 2.8TB of usable space, with the remainder reserved for data protection.

There’s one extra step required for our external storage setup. Whilst Drobo supports Apple Time Machine backups, you need to run a small application from the company called Time Tamer to ensure your Mac can see the Drobo as a backup target. It basically creates the necessary plumbing behind the scenes to get things working.