You’ll be asked to reserve space for your Time Machine backups – I went with 500GB for now, depending on the size of storage you have available, you may wish to select more or less. Once the app has completed, you’ll immediately receive a pop up asking you to configure a location for your Time Machine backups – remember, this is just for the server backup at this point. We’ll configure client backup a little later.
Select your Drobo as the target for the backup, and that’s our storage expansion completed.
Next, we’re going to jump in with our Networking setup. There are a few tasks to sort out here, which vary depending on whether you wish be able to access your server remotely from outside the home. I think this is an important requirement for a home server, so we’ll set up the server to accommodate. Now, those Windows Home Server gurus amongst you will recall that Microsoft have a great remote access setup experience on the platform – you get a free homeserver.com domain, security certificate (so you can be sure the server you access is really your home server) and special sauce to configure DNS (so you can type in your server’s URL in any browser and it’ll magically find your home server). Depending on your router, WHS will also forward the necessary ports on your router (so that requests that are received by the router from the outside world are sent to your server, rather than other computers on the network). It works brilliantly (with the exception of router configuration, mostly).
Here’s the bad news. None of that exists in OS X Lion Server, so we’re going to need to set it all up manually. “The Server For Everyone”, says Apple – well, not quite yet, chaps. Fortunately, we’ve got your back with the steps required to get your remote access on.
a. Register a Domain
So, working from the top down, we’re going to need a domain with which to access our server. Domains are pretty cheap nowadays, and there are a plethora of hosting companies online, such as godaddy.com, networksolutions.com, tzo.com and more. Register your domain, drop the hosting company a little cash, and your domain should be available without too much delay. Note: if your ISP uses Dynamic IP addresses (see below), you can use a free Dynamic DNS service which provides a domain, so you can skip this step unless you want to pick your own name.
b. Point Your Domain Name to Your Server
Once the domain is available, we need to tell it the public IP address of our router. Before you do anything else, check with your ISP whether you have a static (fixed) or dynamic IP address. Static is the easiest to work with as it never changes – dynamic IP addresses change each time your router connects to your ISP, so can be more problematic.
If you have a static IP address the easiest way of finding it is to go to http://www.whatismyip.com/ from one of the computers on your network (connected to the Internet via your router) and write down the address listed. Then, head over to your domain registrar’s website where they should have an option to configure the DNS Settings for your domain. Here’s mine:
In my case, I clicked Manage DNS Settings, and then typed in my Public IP address (I’ve made up the IP address in the screenshot below – just to prevent 350,000 people testing out whether they can connect to my server!).
DNS settings usually take up to 24 hours to change, so we can get on with the rest of our server configuration whilst your registrar makes the change in the background, and it propagates around the Internet.
If your ISP only offers Dynamic IP addresses, then you’ll need to register with a Dynamic DNS service such as http://dyn.com/ and configure your domain with their software so it can keep track of your IP address as it changes. There’s a very good walkthrough on configuring Dynamic DNS services here.
c. Configure Your Host Name and Static IP Configuration On the Server
With our external access to our server partially configured, we now turn to the server itself. The next job to do is to configure our Server’s Host Name. OS X Server is a little fussy about naming conventions and we need to let it know that we wish to be able to access the server remotely – with this information, the server can configure itself accordingly. So, open up the Server app (if it isn’t already) and towards the bottom of the window, click Configure Network. In the panel adjacent, you’ll read:
Your server’s host name can only be used on your local network. To allow secure access outside your network, give your server a host name ending with “.private” in the Server pane, and then turn on VPN service. To allow direct Internet access to services without using VPN, register an Internet host name for your server and configure port mapping on your router.
That’s a succinct explanation of the steps we need to take to complete our network configuration. So, click the blue word “Server” which is highlighted, and you’ll be taken to the Network Settings page.
As you can see, the iMac was automatically configured with a computer name (Terry Walsh’s iMac) and has a .local hostname. We’ll need to switch this is a .private hostname to ensure we can access the server remotely. (If you’re just going to access the server on your local home network, you can leave this .local name in place).