MacStadium Knowledge Base

Storage

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Can I add SAN storage to a Mac mini?

No. We do not support SAN storage on the Mac mini. Mac minis are not equipped to handle the network and bandwidth requirements of SAN storage. The Mac mini does not meet our hardware requirements due to not being included on VMware’s compatibility list and because it lacks internal bus throughput.

If a SAN is not a viable option, we also offer two other high-capacity external storage options. You may add a subscription add-on or colocate a 2.5” BUS-powered hard drive up to 4TB in size (either USB or Thunderbolt). We also have a dedicated NAS option up to 25TB that is connected either directly to a server (depending on space and I/O port availability) or via the local network.

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Can I add SAN storage to an existing server?

If your existing server is a Mac Pro running VMware and you wish to add SAN storage, this is possible. We’ll need to take the server offline for a short period to present fibre channel connectivity to it. There is no additional labor cost when adding SAN at a later date. Available add-ons for your server are accessible within your customer dashboard under the Add-Ons tab within the details of your subscription(s).

If you have a Mac Pro server running an operating system on bare metal (macOS, for example), we can’t provision SAN storage for it. Due to the configuration and storage type, the operating system is unable to connect to and manage SAN storage.

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Can I add an external hard drive to a server?

Yes. We currently offer external hard drives starting at $10 per month per drive. You can add up to two dedicated 2.5” external 1TB (1,000GB), 2TB, or 4TB USB 3.0 bus-powered hard drives for your Mac. With an external drive attached, you can have a simple, robust backup, and/or expanded capacity solution. You can partition the external 2.5″ drive(s) as you like via the operating system on your server. Available add-ons for your server are accessible within your customer dashboard under the Add-Ons tab within the details of your subscription(s).

Backup

We recommend making one partition at least the same size as the internal drive in your Mac and then have it clone each night using either the included macOS Time Machine backup tools or a third party tool like SuperDuper! which allows you to boot from the external drive right away in the event of a failure or other disaster on your internal drive. The remaining space can be used as a secondary partition to use as you desire.

Colocation

We can also colocate your own external hard drive as long as it meets our size and power requirements. Colocated 2.5” external hard drives can have USB or Thunderbolt connectivity and must be bus-powered.

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Can I use internal SSDs instead of SAN storage?

Yes, but there are some things you should know.  The bandwidth on internal SSDs is great, and it’s a cheaper option, but there are some serious limitations/considerations you should be aware of. There is no redundancy with internal SSDs.  If a drive dies, it’s dead and all information is lost.  If you use internal SSDs you lose the ability to do resource pooling - each VM must run on a single host and the associated internal SSD. This also prevents you from running hosts in an HA configuration on large clouds.  With internal SSDs you are limited to 1TB/host.  Our small cloud bundles use internal SSDs by default.

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What RAID configuration is used in the 2xHDD Mac mini configurations?

By default, Mac minis with RAID arrays are set to RAID1. That means the pair of drives are mirrored for availability.

If you’d like a different RAID configuration at the time of your order, please open a support ticket with your request.

Our support staff can also handle custom requests. One popular, virtualization-focused option on the Mac mini with quad core i7 CPU is removing the RAID array and replacing one of the disks with an SSD. The user can then install VMware ESXi on the SSD with a few high-performing (or all) virtual machines while using the remaining HDD for low-performance virtual machines and/or backup.

RAID Disclaimer

RAID in any form is not a backup! RAID provides availability or speed based on the format. If you lose a disk in a RAID1 array, you have another disk available to rebuild the RAID array after adding a new disk. Other forms of RAID offer lesser or greater amounts of availability by way of parity. The standard RAID levels page on Wikipedia is a great resource for learning more.

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What does Pure Storage do?

Pure Storage provides super high performance all-flash arrays.  They are highly reliable with built-in redundancy so you never experience data loss.  In addition, they have unparalleled throughput capabilities and built-in hardware encryption so your information is always secure.  We find that this level of performance is important for cloud customers doing Mac CI/CD.

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