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I'll get a Mac mini next week and apart from other things, I'd like to use it as a backup server via Time Machine and an external HDD.

As I want to be able to access the HDD from remote anyway, I thought about simply sharing it and selecting it as a backup drive on my Macs. Then I found about about the Time Machine server included in OS X Server. What differences and advantages are there in using either one?

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What are you accessing remotely, just the data on the TM backup or using it as a TM backup for a remote Mac? –  Mark Feb 26 '13 at 11:49
    
The HDD has two partitions, one for the backups and one for general storage. I'd like to have access to at least the latter when I'm not at home. So I'm thinking about either sharing it for access via SSH or something, or just using Server.app. –  user43836 Feb 26 '13 at 11:54

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The Time Machine functionality that OS X Server provides is to allow an remote OS X machine to use the server as a Time Machine backup disk. The server will create a sparsebundle for each remote machine it is backing up.

OS X Server includes a way of controlling and administrating services that can be implemented on normal OS X. In this case you can create a sparse bundle and share it in plain OSX (or as is done in many Network Attached Servers in Linux/BSD)

For your case as you are not using the server as a remote TM backup then OS X Server does not provide much here. With normal OSX you can share the external disk via AFP, samba but these are better not to expose across the internet for security reasons or better use ssh to remotely access the Mac.

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