OSX File Sharing for Small, Growing Office?
February 3, 2015 11:15 AM   Subscribe

My small company has been using Dropbox to share files, but this is no longer suitable due to both security concerns and the fact that we're growing. We have a small local network of computers running OSX. What's the best file-sharing solution for us? Requirements under the fold.

What we need is very simple: an easy way for everyone in the office to access the same documents and other files from their own computers, that will update for everyone when any changes are saved, with the ability to back it all up in a secure manner.

We have been fiddling with the built-in shared folders feature, but getting frustrated with a number of little things about it that just aren't working no matter how many tutorials we follow. And the two of us who will be implementing it are tech-savvy, but not as familiar with OSX and not IT professionals.

What I'd really like is something like Microsoft SharePoint, but for OSX, and maybe not quite so robust. Any suggestions?
posted by rhiannonstone to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd go with a cloud-based shared server system like what's offered by Box or Egnyte.
posted by quince at 11:21 AM on February 3, 2015

Transporter makes "private cloud" solutions for individuals/small office (as well as rack-mounted solutions for larger offices)
posted by misterbrandt at 11:43 AM on February 3, 2015

We have been using Owncloud as our Dropbox replacement and everyone seems to like it
posted by epjr at 12:00 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm in a majority Mac office, and we use Box. Its sync client has got much better recently, and allows you to selectively sync the folders that you're interested in. It keeps versions, and can have folders shared with selected outside groups with a variety of read-only/read-write permissions options. It also can receive files by e-mail to a folder, and can be mounted as a WebDAV share (unlike SharePoint, though it's based on WebDAV, messes up with proprietary authentication).
posted by scruss at 12:12 PM on February 3, 2015

Couple options:
Upgrade to Dropbox for business
Enable file sharing on the various Mac's
Get a Mac Mini run it headless with OSX Server
Synology NAS
posted by Mac-Expert at 1:01 PM on February 3, 2015

You can use cloud-based Sharepoint via Office365. While it's kind of optimized for IE, the document-sharing type features should all work fine in Chrome.

If you're not using O365 for mail, it may not be worth the hassle, though. (If you are using O365 for mail, I think you get Sharepoint with it.)
posted by Lyn Never at 1:17 PM on February 3, 2015

Is remote access an issue, or will access always be from the office LAN?

Is file size and network bandwidth an issue (ie lots of photos or video)?

I would strongly dissuade you from file sharing on individual macs. Either designate one as a server, get a MacMini server, or get some sort of NAS. If you go this route, I'd suggest using Crashplan for automated off-site backups.

Whatever you are doing, get something designed to handle your expected growth over the next few years. Something that may be tenable at your current size could become a pain at 2x your size, and a complete nightmare beyond that. So, for example, OSX Server and creating individual accounts for each user, even if it is just running on one of your existing macs while it does double duty, is preferable to using the same machine's basic file sharing feature.
posted by Good Brain at 1:34 PM on February 3, 2015

Nice thing about using something like the Transporter is that you have ownership of all your data. Sync it with a 2nd unit in a remote location for catastrophic back-up. This could be the home office of the business owner. Who wil have the additional benefit of immediate access to all files while working from home...
The advantage of a device like this is that it doesn't need much admin work and has little worry about being hacked from the outside. While if you run your own server or nas and want to make the data accessible you have to constantly worry about keeping the connection up and safe..
Also keep in mind that your need for storage will grow. Easy storage expansion makes an upgrade as painless as inserting an extra drive before you leave the office for the night.
posted by Mac-Expert at 2:40 PM on February 3, 2015

My Mac office also uses Box. Personally though, I find Dropbox easier to use and since you need to pay for something anyway, I would just upgrade Dropbox to the business edition. I'm not sure Dropbox is any less secure than Box. I've tried Box Sync in the past (a couple years ago) and didn't find it worked as well as Dropox does. In my office, everyone who uses Box uses it via the website. If you have a lot of remote workers, a cloud-based solution may be best.

I guess you could also get an actual file server, which would show up on everyone's computers like another drive. It would cost a few hundred dollars and you would host everyone's files there. This may be a good option if everyone tends to work from the office. The advantage is you aren't handing your data over to another outside company, but the drawback is if you don't have the IT expertise to set it up properly and you'd rather count on Box and Dropbox to backup your data if it somehow gets erased.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:19 PM on February 3, 2015

> You can use cloud-based Sharepoint via Office365. While it's kind of optimized for IE, the document-sharing type features should all work fine in Chrome.

Nope. You can only open single files at a time on Sharepoint through Chrome on a Mac. We have many clients who use it for file storage, and it is a royal pain on anything but Windows and IE.

About five minutes after I posted my response, the owner came by and said he's pretty much through with Box on cost grounds, and wants to move to MS OneDrive for Business. We already have Office 365 subscriptions, and can get terabytes of storage for very little per desk. MS have just released OneDrive for Business Mac sync client Preview, which looks useful for sync and share purposes.
posted by scruss at 7:18 PM on February 3, 2015

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