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Advise on Best File Server for Macs using Word

I've been fighting the insane uphill battle with Mac clients using MS Word to save files to Windows Server 2008 for almost a year now. I've tried using a NAS instead but went back to Server 2008.

99% of the problems I'm seeing revolve around Mac OS on the client locking files open even when the file isn't open on the respective client. Windows Server shows files open after they're closed. My assumption is that the client isn't communicating the closure and the server is left in la la land. These issues consist of Word not saving files that you just opened from the server, saving errors (aka you don’t have permission all of a sudden), mysterious corrupt files (one mac can open a word doc fine and the mac next to them gets an error that the very same file is corrupt), inabilities to move/rename/delete files etc.

There are sooooo many problems with Word, Mac OS X and saving to networks I'm out of ideas (lots and lots of people are having this issue and Apple/MS are not being helpful). The only thing we haven't tried is using another Mac as the file server, which leads me to my quest for advice.

We're going to try and use a Mac Mini to host the Word files for 5 users.

The question/advice needed is this: which file sharing protocol should be used?

All the Mac clients are running 10.8.5 or 10.7. The new Mac Mini will be downgraded to 10.8.5 and will have the "server" app added to it.

Should we be using AFP or SMB or CIFS or something else?

The hope is that using a Mac to serve the files may help.

Thoughts? Advise?
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digitalwav
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digitalwav
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2 Solutions
 
Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
The Macs can use AFP to connect to the server .. as OSX introduced SMB2 in 10.8 and 10.7 uses SMB1 it might be better to stick to AFP seeing as you have clients with both OSX versions and therefore 2 flavours of SMB which would also have been an issue with them working with Windows.

I'd NOT recommend downgrading the MacMini Server .. in fact if you can get it up to 10.10 when it comes out soon that would be better.  SMB2 support and connectivity with Windows is better in 10.10 than 10.9 and MUCH better than 10.8.
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digitalwavIT Infrastructure ManagerAuthor Commented:
So if I can get all of the Mac clients on 10.8.5 (which is the plan), the server can be 10.9 or 10.10 and the SMB versions will match?

We tried 10.9 on a few desktops and it's been a disaster. There were too many UI issues, alias's disappearing and other issues.

I guess as long as the SMB version matches it may work better correct?
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
As 10.8 uses SMB2 by default and 10.7 does not.  You can force 10.8 to use SMB1 but it seems redundant when the new server has AFP included and if you're upgrading the 10.7 to 10.8 then SMB2 will be the standard.

If the Mac Mini is being used as a File Server .. it should be installed with latest OSX 10.9 .. leave it alone and do not downgrade it as the UI has no effect when using it as a fileserver and you're getting a better version of OSX in terms of the other functionality.

I'd recommend that you use AFP for the macs connecting as that is consistent for the 10.7 and 10.8 clients.
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
If you can upgrade all the 10.7 Macs to 10.8 that would be good .. but I'd still recommend AFP by default and you can fall back to SMB2 if you have to.
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digitalwavIT Infrastructure ManagerAuthor Commented:
I'd prefer AFP as it has had fewer issues based on past experience.

Thanks for the advice. I hope this will take care of the issues we're having!
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