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Ideal Mac to host FM8 Server?

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I need help in choosing the best Mac to host a DB on.

Not to sure if a G5 Tower is the way to go or a XServe

or how much RAM.

Any ideas?

FileMaker Server 8 ( This may be upgraded to Advanced. )

15 - 20 Users ( LAN ) This may be increased by 10.

4 - 5 Remote Users ( Web )

4 - 5 Customers ( to view from the Web )

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The Xserve is a great because of its built-in redundancies. But that comes at a cost. If you have a good backup plan, then the G5 may be sufficient (I use a second internal hard drive for the automated backups, and have another machine back that up nightly.) If this is a mission critical server, then the redundancy of the Xserve may be best (or have another similar G5 around that could be swapped in if the primary fails.)

1.5 - 2GB RAM is about right for situation.

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I'm happily using Mac Minis booted off an external 2.5" firewire hard drives. I set up the internal drive as a hot backup of the external boot drive.

The minis have some advantages: They are dirt cheap and easy to get, so if one fails you be up & running again within an hour (if, like me you live near an apple store or other bigbox retailer). Yes, the XServe can be set up with "same day" repair contracts, but you are talking $3000 or more. I could buy 6 mac minis for that :)-).

They use very little power (especially if you use an 2.5" external bus-powered drive) so once set up on a medium-size UPS they will run for hours even after the power fails. Would you rather have an XServe which has to shut down the database within 15 minutes if the power goes out, or a mac mini which keeps running during a 3 hour power outage until the power comes back on?

Main disadvantage of the mini is performance. The internal drives are slow, as are the 2.5" external drives. But, for database operations, and with 1 gig of memory, the G4 is reasonably fast. If you take a price/peformance ratio, the mini beats the xserve in several categories.

Also, one should consider developer productivity -- would you be better off with 2 minis (one as a "live" server, and one as a "testing/development" server) or a single Xserve? Sometimes, it's nice to be able to develop and test on a 2nd system, and only roll out the new versions when you are finally ready. Having two systems can save a lot of time.

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I'll echo John's statement regarding the Mac mini, and there have been numerous posts here regarding the use of the mini as a FileMaker Server box. The key weakness of the mini lies in its internal drive, which is a slow laptop drive. The key to a good database server lies in having the fastest access to your data possible. A slow drive is the surest way to bottleneck your access.

Regarding your choice between Xserve and G5, I think it all comes down to price. If you can afford an Xserve, get it. If you can't afford one, get the G5. Whichever you do, put as much RAM in there as you can afford. If you're getting a G5, consider a second internal drive, consider a fast RAID system, etc...


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