Turn An Old Mac Into A Server With MacOS Server

MacOS server

There are many third-party networks which are supported with a time machine. Also, there is a plenty of advantages. You can plug-in external storage and a USB drive will be a better option than a time capsule. When the external drives are plugged directly into the Mac USB 3.0 port rather than USB port 2.0 port on an airport extreme or Time Capsule, they perform much quicker. To do this, you need to buy a MacOS server from the App Store that may cost Rs.1280 ($19.99).

This app will be installed as an app within an existing version of MacOS. There are some other additional benefits like setting up centralized folder sharing, caching of iCloud drive data. This will save you money and time if you have a slow Internet connection.

While turning an old Mac into a server with MacOS server, make sure that your existing Mac is running OS X 10.11.6 or higher. Because this will help you to run the latest version of MacOS server. Of course, it is difficult to buy and install an older version of the app but not impossible.

Download and install the server app. Once you are done with the installation, you can find it in the Application folder. After that, make sure that make sure of your connections.

  • Connect the server to your router with an ethernet cable
  • Assign a static IP address on your network to the server. The static IP address will be easier for other Mac to locate and connect to it.

Follow the below steps to assign a static IP address to your server.

  • Go to System Preferences and tap on Network (If required, select the Ethernet connection)
  • Change the “Configure IPv4” pop-up menu to “Using DHCP with manual address”
  • Give the Mac a static IP address and check the range from which your router allocates the address. It may be often 192.168.0.x and x may be between 0 to 255.
  • Then click “Apply”.

When you limit access to specific users and group, the server will work the best. Open the app and click Continue to set it up. Once you have set it up, you will see its main screen with an overview of the computer and the available services in the sidebar. Now on the left, select Users under Accounts. Then you can see that your own user account is added. You can add a number of users just by clicking on the “+” symbol.

Make sure the Home folder is set to “None – Services only”. It’s better to leave the “Allow user to administer this server” unchecked. So you are the only person who is in control of your server. Click “Create”. Then a new user will have access to all the enabled services by default.

Suppose that you want to restrict access to the service, follow the below few steps.

  • Ctrl-click the username
  • Choose Edit Access to Services
  • Clear the check box next to any service which you don’t wish that person to use. Use the Command button to select multiple users and Ctrl-click on one of them. Now proceed to select Edit Access to Services to apply equal rights to all the users at the same time.
  • Set your server as Time Machine’s target for Mac on your network.
  • Use server caching capabilities. MacOS Sierra can put your Desktop and Documents folders in iCloud Drive to make it available on all your devices.
  • If you have Switched On the server, you will need to use iCloud caching to speed up syncing and cut internet bandwidth usage.

Leave your server switched ON for all the time. So whenever the other devices are connected to your network, the changes that they make to your iCloud Drive are cached on the server. Also, these changes are uploaded to iCloud, and other devices on your network retrieve them from the cache rather than downloading them from the internet.

When you find that a device is away from your own network, or if your server isn’t running, files will still sync with iCloud normally. If you want to back up your Macs wirelessly, you will spare one to run the app.

Setup Time Machine backups:

The cost of Server and a hard drive are less and it saves you lots of money compared to an AirPort Extreme or a Time Capsule. Now let’s see how to setup Time Machine backups. Follow the steps to get this done.

1. Choose backup drive:

Backup drive

  • Select Time Machine in Server’s sidebar and turn on the switch on the top right.
  • Pick a destination to store backups of your other Macs.
  • Click “Choose” and select a folder on any connected drive

2. Set storage limits:

Backup plus drive

If the server is using OS X 10.9 or higher, you can cap the space available to each user.

  • Check “Limit each backup to” and enter a value. The lower the value, the fewer backups a Mac can keep before removing the old ones.

3. Restrict user access:

set storage limits

You can manage Time Machine in another way. Limit the users who can access it.

  • Click Edit Permissions
  • Select “only some users” and click OK
  • Click “+” to add names – start typing, then select a user from the suggestions that appear.

4. Add more storage:

restrict user access

If you have started to run out of space:

  • Purchase another drive
  • Connect it to your server
  • Then click “+” under Backup Destinations to add its space, which will be used once the original drive is full.

5. Connect from other Macs:

Add more storage

  • In Time Machine under System Preferences on another Mac, click Select Disk
  • Select your server from the list of destinations
  • Click Use Disk, and enter the username and password of the corresponding person’s account.

6. Monitor backup usage:

Connect from other devices


  • In macOS Server, select Time Machine and click on the Backups tab
  • Then you will see a list of connected Macs and any ongoing or completed backups
  • Double-click one to reveal details, such as its history, or to delete backups.

That’s it! You have turned on your old Mac into a server with MacOS server.

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