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I have four Macs I want networked together so files can be shared between them without email. I want it to be a wired network and I also want to be able to access the files on the network away from anywhere. A backup on a portable hardrive and an online backup would be a plus. Is OS X server what I need and maybe a dropbox? Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am not sure what to do!

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There are several ways to accomplish this. Let's list your requirements:

  1. Multiple Macs.
  2. Shared files between them.
  3. Wired network.
  4. Backups either online or local.
  5. Remote access to files.

While OS X Server is certainly useful here (especially if you wanted a VPN), it isn't necessary. Assuming all of your PCs are on the network, I would set up a NAS (network attached storage device) and locate my files there. Many NAS also have the ability to share files out remotely.

Alternatively, you could load Dropbox, Box.net, or some similar service on each device, and share specific folders to each user account. This would allow you to more easily integrate devices external to your network into your file sharing system. Each such service offers varying tiers of free space, and you pay as you add onto them. An added bonus would be the ability to roll back file changes, or recover deletions (at least DropBox has this feature.)

As with any setup, your mileage will vary.

  • So essentially if I had a network switch connecting all the Macs by ethernet and the NAS connected to that I would then be able to access the files from the NAS on any of the computers? – rweig May 27 '14 at 16:23
  • This is correct, although there are other configurations that you can do (such as using an Airport Extreme and an external drive, but that will not allow access outside of your local network). – Dave May 27 '14 at 17:27
  • I would also go for an NAS. I do have OS X Server and it is a nice thing, but NAS is a lot easier. For things like Dropbox I would alternatively use Seafile because it is open source. – rwenz3l Jun 20 '14 at 15:19

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