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I need to store Mac files on a Windows 2003 server without corruption. I will also need to backup and restore.

Posted on 2008-06-16
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Last Modified: 2008-08-19
I have a Windows 2003 domiain envionment. I have 3 iMac users and will be adding 2 more. There is a large need to get aq dedicated server for iMac file storage. I have several servers and plenty of space to implement without having to purchase a dedicated iMac server. I also need to backup these files with Symantec Veritas Backup Exec.  I am a nub to iMac and any basic help is appreciated.
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Question by:webfullcircle
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by:jhyiesla
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This would be very easy to do. If you have bound your Mac's to AD then users can log into the Mac with their AD credentials and mount a share, which is similar to mapping a drive in Windows.  Even if you don't have your iMacs bound to AD, I think you can still do the same thing, although your users will be prompted for name and password when they access the shared resource on the server.

With finder open from the menu at the top choose Go and then Connect to Server. In the address line put smb://servername/sharename.  As I said it may prompt you for AD credentials...assuming you're using AD :)

This will open up the share in a finder window and  you can drag and drop files to this just like you would in Windows.  Once on the server drive the files can be backed up just like any other file. You can check this out for sure by taking some document or whatever type of file you want to save, copy it to the server and then to another Mac.  If the file opens or executes on the second Mac like it did on the first, then you know that there is no issue storing on the server.

The one problem with this is that there is no ready way to get the shares to stick each time.  I have written a little apple script that gets executed each time I log on.  I'll attach the code below.  I have the script listed as a start up item in my user profile.  NOTE::: If you are using an AD bound iMac you need to upgrade Leopard (asusming you're using Leopard) to 10.5.3 or the ability to add items to the login screen of an AD user will hang the System Preferences which is where you do this at.


Tell application "Finder"

        delay 0.3

        try

                mount volume "smb://Servername1/applications"

                mount volume "smb://servername2/lis"

                mount volume "smb://servername3/public"

                

        end try

        

        delay 0.3

        

end tell

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by:webfullcircle
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Tks. Yes I am using AD. Is there anything on the server end that I need to be aware of. One of the users attempted to save files to the server before and this corrupted and they were then unusuable. I will check the script tomorrow.
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by:jhyiesla
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I don't think that there are any issues other than I think Apple allows more characters in a filename than Windows does, but wouldn't think that would be a great issue.  Are you mostly looking to store documents or executable files?  

The for sure way to test this is to copy (not move) some files to a Windows server and then copy them to another Mac and see if they can be accessed.  I think under the old versions of the Mac OS there may have been some difficulties, but I don't think those exist under OS X. Still a test is always a good idea.
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by:Eoin OSullivan
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webfullcircle - your OSX users SHOULD be able to work with shared folders located on a Windows 2003 server HOWEVER there are several issues which you need to watch out for.
1. Macs can have issues authenticating against a Windows AD server.
http://allinthehead.com/retro/218/accessing-a-windows-2003-share-from-os-x
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=54704
http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20070815135359143

2. Windows 2003 offers Apple Filesharing Protocol (AFP) support which makes specified shared folders more OSX-friendly.  There are advantages and disadvantages of using the AFP tools in Windows 2003 server but it may explain why your users had damaged files.  IF you DON'T use the AFP tools then OSX will use the SMB protocol to connect to Windows shares.  This in turn can have issues with file extensions and resource data being lost.  This particularly affects fonts and certain other filetypes.

3. Better Networking - as you may have guessed by now .. OSX and Windows has some issues .. enter the 3rd party solutions which claim (and often achieve) much better OSX/Windows integration .. at a $$$$$
AdmitMac & Dave - http://www.thursby.com
Sharity - http://www.obdev.at/products/sharity/index.html
Centrify - http://www.centrify.com
ExtremeZ-IP - http://www.grouplogic.com/products/extremeZ-IP




jhyiesla - I admire your enthusiasm but you are making the whole process sound very simple .. whereas the hundreds of posts on this and other forums indicates that it is not always straightforward to just plug Macs into a Windows 2003 server networks there can be many and varied issues/problems.  Both SMB services in OSX and Apple Sharing services in Windows have known issues and weaknesses.
Also .. you may wish to note that the file character limit you mention is an issue with Samba not Windows (particularly Samba under OSX 10.4 and earlier). BOTH OSX and Windows XP support file names that are up to 255 characters long for files.
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by:jhyiesla
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eoinosullivan...no problem...I was not aware of the things you mentioned...but that's how we all learn.

Thanx...
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by:webfullcircle
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OK, So I have the option to purchase a dedicated server for Mac files. Say a NAS server of sorts.
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by:swappedsr
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Okay,

I have been dealing with this issue for months, the problem is both connecting through smb & afp have their own issues and they are big ones.  From files dissappearing, to files being corrupted, the windows file services for macintosh is not a viable solution.  The same can be said for smb, they are both unstable.  Either get an X server or go with something like we did, which is compatible with windows servers, ExtremeZIP.  The only problem I have really come across is NTFS permssions don't exactly work correctly, but it is an issue I have been working on with their engineers and something that they are suppose to fix in an upcoming release.  Windows services for macintosh were only good in Windows NT, and it was very stable other than the limited amount of characters in the filename and the fact that it doesn't show clients the true space left on the drive. By the way, this is coming from many months of research and testing.  Hope this helps, Good Luck!
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by:Eoin OSullivan
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webfullcircle - of course you could buy a NAS Server ... but the most powerful and simplest solution is to get an OSX Server . . you may not be aware but you can run OSX Server on a Mac Mini .. as described here
http://forums.dealnews.com/read.php?4,2750778
You could then plug a few external Firewire drives into the Mac Mini

Alternatively some of the NAS devices running flavours of Linux offer good OSX file compatibility but invariably you are connecting via SMB or NFS (which is a unix protocol). Some claim OSX support but there are often issues with filenames and special characters as they often just support SMB ..(As described here) http://www.mymac.com/showarticle.php?do=something&id=1852

However several now offer AFP support
http://www.totalmemory.co.uk/Thecus_N5200Pro.htm
http://www.axentra.com/en/products/hipserv/


Finally, the full DIY solution using a PC box, RAID card and Linux .. to create a NAS
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t13279.html



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by:webfullcircle
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LOTS of info here and all is appreciated. I have looked over the original post and unfortunately I did get some file corruption which is my original concern.  I have about 1 day left to decide on a dedicated server or not. If I do go with the MAC OSX Server then I planto get a rack mount unit.
Eoino.. the full OSX server. Is is inuuitive enough to get 3-5 users connected without much issue? I won't ask much more as that is a seperate post all together, but to close this question, what is the suggestion for the OSX. I have looked at a MAC Mini but is poses securiy concerns due to its portability.
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by:jhyiesla
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The mini does come with a security slot so it would be possible to secure it somewhat.

http://www.meritline.com/high-security-apple-all-purpose-security-slot-lock.html
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by:swappedsr
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A lot of this will depend on whether or not you will be gaining more users in the future that are going to need access.  If you aren't growing, then sure you could go the mac mini route or even the NAS, though I don't have any testing experience with either since we went the EZIP route.  I will tell you this though, what type of files will be stored on the network? I know Adobe will tell you not to save over the network and you may see issues like being able to open photoshop documents simultaneously on multiple machines.  It didn't pose a real problem for us since we only have two users that use adobe products and they are fully aware of the issue.  So,do some homework on the different files you will be using and note any problems people have saving to the network for the different solutions people have suggested. Good Luck!
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by:webfullcircle
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Well Swappedsr,
I am liking the EZIP more and more as I look it over. To answer your question, these are graphic designers and primarly use Adobe apps. Please indulge on the Adobe issue with saving over the network as I have not run into any issues saving ovver the network on my Windows based machines.
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by:swappedsr
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The two users I referenced above use adobe photoshop, illustrator and acrobat all the time.  And, from what Adobe says and they will tell you this themselves, they do not support saving directly to servers, but they recommend saving locally and then replace the files on the servers.  Though, this can become a problem since there could be multiple users replacing the same files, so your naming conventions of the different copies need to be correct if you go that route.  I have recreated the problem, but just let my users know that it is there and we haven't had any issues saving right to the network shares.  What I would do is grab the free trial version from ExtremeZip and do some testing. The only problem is that it does cost about 1200 dollars I think, but worth it in my honest opinion.  It was really one less server I had to manage as the software gets installed right on one of your window's boxes.  They do have an annual support plan too, but you get a year free if I remember correctly to any updates/releases they come out with.  And, if you run into any issues their engineers are pretty good to work with in the event you need something fixed/customized.  
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by:webfullcircle
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Ok Grouplogic has a great product and trust me, it is really intutive. I am very pleased with the outcome of this product. It is not for a small shop and the product is marketed towards a larger business but I highly suggest it.

swappedsr, we have been saving adobe cs to the server for about two weeks with out issue and the sales staff at Grouplogic were not aware that this was an issue. Do you have further info for the issue you speak of.
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