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Apart from the other features of Mac OS X Server (iChat server, Address Book server, etc.), what, if any, file sharing advantages does OS X Server have over the standard OS X?

We are currently using standard OS X on a networked iMac in our office which we connect to and use as a central file store (using AFP and connecting through the Finder under the "Shared" computers, logging in as the iMac's main user).

Is there any benefit to having OS X server rather than the standard OS X in terms of this type of file sharing?

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Note the time-limit of this question, Lion will include Server in the main/retail/customer version. –  tobylane Mar 21 '11 at 20:58

3 Answers 3

The main benefit of OSX Server over OSX client is the ability to easily set things up in a more "enterprise-y" way. You can set up AFP, SMB and NFS all together, assign users to them and tweak a few detailed options, as well as being all Kerberised if you're doing single sign on. This would be useful if you wanted to set up things like auto-mount drives for a large network of managed computers (Macs, Windows and *nix). For a small office, OSX Server would be complete overkill, especially if you already have everything set up as you like (on which note, do you feel anything is lacking from your current set up? That ought to be the reason for switching).

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Thanks for the info! We're moving from an office with just 2 of us into an office with about 5 guys, so we're looking at whether or not the server is a good idea. I think possibly the user management might be a benefit. –  Michael Waterfall Mar 21 '11 at 14:10
    
Setting up network log ons (so that anyone can log into any machine) and network homes (so they always have the same home folder when they do) is probably the main reason to get OS X Server. I'm sure it can be done with the client, but it's much easier with OS X Server (which still isn't particularly easy - don't make my mistake of not reading the manual and just jumping in). If you just want the server to be a file-sharing box (and give everyone "their own" Mac), stick with the client. –  Scott Mar 21 '11 at 14:26

I haven't checked under Snow Leopard, but with earlier versions the AFP server in the client version of OS X was limited to 10 simultaneous connections. Earlier versions of OS X Server could be purchased with 10-user or unlimited licenses, with the client acting like the 10-user license. In Snow Leopard, Apple eliminated the 10-user server license, but I'm pretty sure the limit is still there in the client OS.

(This is in addition to the differences Scott mentioned, that the Server version has way more configuration options.)

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There's no advantage. The file sharing services are identical.

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