Home Networking Question

I am trying to setup an old Mac Mini as a file server with several hard drives connected. I have cable internet with a cable-provided modem/router. I have turned off all the wifi radios on the router and have a Google Wifi mesh network with the primary router connected to the cable router.

The Google Wifi device has two network connections, one connects to the modem and the other is a standard network connection (I think).

Question: if I connect the Mac Mini via wire to the Google Wifi device, is that the best connection for a file server? Second, beyond enabling file sharing on the Mac Mini, is there anything else I should do to share the drives via the network?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Yes, good plan. I prefer to hard wire any device I can. My Eero has two Ethernet ports, one for the cable modem and one that goes to a 16 port switch. All my hardwired devices get connected to the switch.

Other things to consider are security and privacy. Who gets access to what? I like to enable screen sharing s I don’t have to go to the basement to check on things. Also makes running headless easier. There’s also an option to cache updates so you don’t have to burn the bandwidth for multiple devices.


Ah, good suggestions. I wasn’t sure about putting a switch on the Google Wifi device, but that makes sense. Now if only my older house had cat6 run throughout. :slight_smile:

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This all sounds good to me! Connections seen to be the best possible. I’ve got a Mac mini as a server computer (files and some other services). It’s got four external drives connected, 14TB total. The ISP provided router has its Wifi disabled and I use Ubiquiti UniFi access point. I’ve been doing this successfully (with some upgrades) for 10 years. I used an old Dell desktop as a server before that.

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I had my ISP router set-into bridge mode. That means: it becomes completely “dumb” (no WiFi, no DHCP, no DNS, no switching/routing) and just does one thing: connect me to the net.

The cable from the ISP router then goes to my router, which (network-wise) is then directly attached to the net.

So, no issues with double-NAT, is faster and port-forwarding and other features are handled by my router, which is way more capable than the ISP toy.

The router is then connnected to a switch, which handles the network workload. NAS, server, and as much as I can, are connected by cable to the switch. For the NAS I use port trunking to double the bandwith.


Double NAT does not worry me that much

I have 3 routers set up;

  • my ISP’s as a gateway router
  • 1 for my internal network
  • 1 for my iOT network

This way I can keep unwanted iOT traffic (in or out) off my home network.
I have this set up this way for about 4 years now, and have never had any NAT issues.

But in reference to @celler 's question: I’d say cabled is (almost) always better than wifi, so also for file servers.

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Double NAT becomes problematic when you need services directly reaching a device. PlayStation Network for example loses some functionality in double NAT scenarios. You can reach PSN and use it, but only when you initiate it. The ability to send downloads to your PS4/PS5 from a PC browser would fail.

This could potentially affect other remote access systems like TeamViewer from outside your home. Port forwarding doesn’t work, or at least becomes very complicated for multiplayer gaming or torrent clients.

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Most of time time, and for most users, double NAT will not be an issue and won’t ever be noticed.

It might be a problem:

  • if for some reason you need uPnP (in know…I know)
  • you need to forward/open ports (I do)
  • latency might increase
  • trouble with some VPNs
  • issues with some stuff

@JKoopmans has a point: double NAT is another obstacle for unwanted traffic. If I look at my router’s logs, how many attempted priviledge gains were done (scripted attacks),…

I think turning the provider modem into a dumb bridge and handling the network through a single router is the better option (for me!), but one should be aware of the implications (router configuration!).