Since launch, our goal at MacStadium has been to provide enterprise-class Mac hosting to the market. Along the way, we discovered an opportunity to release great content to enthusiasts and developers using the Mac and OS X ecosystem.
That content ranges from videos about setting up popular software tools on a server at MacStadium, to bandwidth and hardware benchmarks, to fixes for common server connectivity issues. Our engineers are knowledgeable and enjoy sharing with customers whenever possible.
Explaining how our users can take advantage of new and old features to optimize their Mac servers brings smiles to our faces. Below, we’ll look back at our most popular content on the MacStadium Blog and Youtube channel from 2011 up to now.
We’ve released many high-quality informational videos in the past few years to help users new to hosted and colocated Mac servers. Popular subjects include using Apple’s OS X Server utility and installing software like Owncloud or Plex Media Server application.
Many of our most influential posts have popular videos attached for more in-depth analysis.
Who doesn’t love speed tests? We love them because they are one of the best measures of network capability. Whether using a third party tool or testing with in-house files to simulate a production environment, a speed test can provide real feedback for the abilities of a network connection. That means Megabit and Gigabit speeds at MacStadium with low latency and great connectivity around the globe. We receive lots of views from users interested in the real capability of our network connections and many new customers are made after seeing our speed tests (especially when comparing our low costs).
Halfway through our first year of business in 2012, we discovered more and more users were connecting remotely to do real, substantial work on their Mac mini servers at MacStadium. This meant they were doing research and fumbling through documentation on dozens of websites trying to setup remote desktop connectivity on their hosted or colocated Mac mini.
We set out to help by creating a post and video explaining all of the available options. It turned out to be instantly successful and the community still uses both the post and video to this day as a reference.
Written in August of 2012, the purpose of this post+video combination was a follow-up to the previous remote desktop connectivity article and video. Our goal was to offer a better solution to customers that were having issues with native and third party remote desktop connectivity to their Mac servers at MacStadium.
This post was also an introduction to an early version of our Displayport dongle for graphical improvements. For just $2/month, users gained the ability to improve graphics performance when connected remotely to their Mac mini in the MacStadium data center. We’ve since improved the GPU enabler dongle and include it with all hosted Mac mini servers for free to new subscribers!
MacStadium announced plans to support the second generation Apple Mac Pro in MacStadium data centers right on the heels of Apple’s 2013 “sneak peak” reveal of the completely redesigned workstation. We quickly began research and development into power, network, and space requirements for a custom rack-mounted Mac Pro at MacStadium, even releasing a potential rack design mock-up.
Interested customers and media took to the news quickly. The following year, we were excited to announce support for hosted Mac Pro’s in our custom-designed racks with Gigabit network connectivity and redundant Fibre Channel SAN storage from NetApp and Pure Storage. Adoption of the Mac Pro’s have been great since launching the offering and we will continue to promote them for customers that need more cores and GPU power than a Mac mini can offer.
Near the end of 2014, Apple made one of their biggest announcements about the Mac mini in several years. While retaining the same form factor (making physical hosting easier), the new 2014 Mac mini received several key changes to the internals. We jumped on the chance to benchmark and explain what it meant for MacStadium customers moving forward.
A brand new CPU architecture with dual core Intel processors meant lesser computing power on the new Mac mini than the preceding quad core CPU’s. Soldered on RAM, PCIe flash storage, and the removal of the second 2.5” storage drive slot also affected our product offerings.
Benchmarking showed us that the new i7 Mac mini was less powerful than the previous model, but performance figures did not change dramatically. We weren’t shocked by the news though and even ordered a bunch of the new mini’s that day to stock up! That being said, we know what our customers want and still carry stock of the previous generation quad core i7 Mac mini. We also love to recommend the Mac Pro as a step up from the new and old Mac mini’s for power-hungry enterprise applications and cloud solutions.
Minecraft! Over 20 million people have installed the game on PC/Mac through the summer of 2015. We spent time in September of 2012 latching on to the craze by showing how to install Minecraft server onto a Mac mini hosted at MacStadium.
The steps and included video proved to be very popular with thousands of views of both the post and video leading to (hopefully) many MacStadium Mac mini Minecraft servers and a number of new Minecraft users of all ages. We saw a large number of linkbacks from other blogs to our article with bloggers writing about Minecraft server as one potential fun use for a remote Mac mini server.
In the previous section, we covered many topics ranging from remote control of Mac servers to hosting popular software like Minecraft to game with your buddies. Whether you’re renting or colocating a Mac server at MacStadium for business or personal use, there is a vast amount of software available to take advantage of that low-wattage, computing power running OS X. There are also more powerful applications for cloud Mac servers.
The first reason the majority of users rent hardware in a data center is to run a remote server. This server can be used for a huge variety of reasons like hosting websites, applications, video games, data backup, etc. First though, you need to set it up and get access. That means setting up SSH access, installing applications, and configuring security measures.
We spent time in 2013 creating video content around the steps needed to setup your very own dedicated OS X Server at MacStadium. The series begins with the basics including installing the server application then moves along to various intermediate and advanced topics like DNS and VPN for knowledgeable users.
One of the most popular posts from this series covers firewalls and port forwarding. MacStadium currently offers users full access to every port on their rented servers. This allows for running any services necessary and means the user has full software and network control over the server.
While we also offer dedicated hardware firewalls for enterprise use, the video on setting up the Icefloor firewall utility and port forwarding has been very popular among non-commercial and budget-focused users.
What comes after setting up a server? Setting up the applications you intend to run on it. In this case, Plex Media Server is a fantastic tool for hosting and sharing many types of media to friends and family. On a dedicated server at MacStadium, customers have their own Mac mini to quickly transcode and share rapidly over a fast internet connection to anywhere in the world.
It’s no surprise that this video series was popular among media-savvy users itching to find a new use for the dedicated Mac mini at MacStadium.
More popular than Plex was our series on ownCloud, the open source file syncing and sharing server application. Billed as an alternative to the remote cloud storage systems like Dropbox, ownCloud allows users full control over the hosting and sharing of data.
It’s a perfect fit in MacStadium’s secure data center environment. Users have full control over the bare metal Mac server while MacStadium ensures that no unauthorized access is granted to servers with hardened firewalls and network security protocols.
The series combined gathered over 60,000 Youtube views and more than half were for the first video in the series alone. While ownCloud no longer offers official installation packages on Mac OS X as of October 2015, Bitnami offers a solution through their native application stack installers.
Top Notch Reporting
MacStadium has made its mark as an enterprise-class Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider of Mac-centric hosting services. We work day in and day out to ensure we provide the optimum environment for customers of all size and variety.
In October of 2013, Apple released OS X 10.9 Mavericks to the world. When we began testing machines in our data center with the latest version of OS X we began experiencing odd network issues, namely with unicast ARP, and confirmed with several of our customers.
From our analysis, it appeared that in a redundant network environment like MacStadium, designed to ensure optimum network reliability in an enterprise environment, the 10.9 version of OS X was configured in a way that did not fully understand how to access the internet through redundant routers.
Our testing showed potential for multiple fixes but soon we realized the problem would spread as more users began upgrading machines in our data center and similar environments to OS X Mavericks. With a firm grasp on the problem, we spent the next few months testing and working with external parties, including network hardware vendors and other network engineers across the Apple support forums.
Finally, in November of 2014 we obtained a patch for the ARP configuration with support for OS X 10.9.x and 10.10.x. 100% of tests of the patch were successful and we have yet to see clients in our data center with ARP issues after applying the patch to a working system. We offer a simple installation tool for this patch through our administration panel to all customers free of charge.
Over a year of work went into researching and testing fixes for this issue. Numerous updates to the blog post also kept our customers and other interested parties well informed on the problem and inevitable solution. We’re happy to say that thousands of users have taken advantage of this fix.
We regularly see new users reaching the MacStadium site directly through this article; it’s a top source in web analytics every month. We’ve found many great new customers through the site thanks to this article and we continue to improve our offerings to support these customers moving forward.