I have an old late 2006 black MacBook. It has 2GB memory, and a 2GHz core 2 duo processor. I'm interested in using it on our home wifi network as a location for time machine backups (onto hard drives attached via USB) and a shared iTunes library (which an apple TV can access). The OS is currently Snow Leopard.

Should I install a server version of OS X (I think I need this if it's to be recognised as a time machine destination)? For a Mac running Mountain Lion, this only costs £13.99 from the App Store (in the UK). The MacBook cannot be upgraded beyond Lion. What are my options?


Your MacBook 2006 cannot be upgraded to OS X Mountain Lion (see OS X Mountain Lion: Supported Macs.

Instead of getting Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server (which may or may not be easily and cheaply available), you could just share the Time Machine folder on the external drive over the network through System Preferences > Sharing > File Sharing. Then configure your other Macs to backup to this location. Keep in mind that this may not be very reliable and worse, it would be quite slow if you use the Wireless G WiFi on your MacBook.

Note: You may need to run the following command in Terminal.app if you're unable to see the shared folder (the destination for the backup):

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Also read: "How do I set up Time Machine to a shared drive on another Mac?," which provides detailed instructions on how to set this up.

For iTunes, you can just turn on Home Sharing and have all your other devices (Macs or iOS devices) stream from it. You would have to use the same Apple ID across all the devices for Home Sharing. The Wireless G speed is good enough to stream music.

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  • My understanding was that Time Machine did not recognise drives shared by Macs running the normal OS. One needs to run a command in terminal first: defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1. Some people have suggested that this method is not as reliable as using a machine running the server OS. See the comments about backup at the start of this article. However, perhaps that's not true. It would be good to know if Time Machine just works without a server OS. – Oliver Sep 28 '13 at 10:37
  • Thanks for mentioning the TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes. I'm not sure if it will be required in this case, but will add it in the answer. – M K Sep 28 '13 at 10:58
  • The WiFi speed of the MacBook shouldn't be a problem because the MacBook will be attached to our main router via an ethernet cable. – Oliver Sep 28 '13 at 10:58
  • You could still go through the instructions provided in the answer even though you've accepted the other one. pondini.org is a great resource for all things Time Machine. – M K Sep 28 '13 at 11:03

You are correct Mountain Lion will probably not run on it. Also you need server software for it to be recognized as a time machine location. Not sure if that was available in previous versions though. OSX server is powerful, but for simple use it is probably an overkill. I have spent to many hours tinkering with mine while just using it for the uses that you state.

If you can get hold of an older version of OSX server and you are willing to tinker.. you could do all of that though

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  • It turns out Mountain Lion does run on the late 2006 MacBooks. I have successfully upgraded. Lion Server is no longer available in the App Store. However, apparently one can purchase it by phoning Apple. If successful, I'll report back. – Oliver Sep 28 '13 at 10:29
  • Not sure how you managed to do it, but Apple's own document says that OS X Mountain Lion requires Macs from 2007 or later (depending on the model). See support.apple.com/kb/HT5444 – M K Sep 28 '13 at 11:06
  • Sorry @MK - my mistake. I meant "Lion", not "Mountain Lion". – Oliver Oct 1 '13 at 16:14

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