Previous 1 2 3 Next 42 Replies Latest reply: Feb 2, 2013 6:06 PM by thegr8td
ideelist Level 1 (0 points)

I just purchased a new Mac mini Server today (the base configuration 2011 Quad Core i7 with 4GB RAM and 2x 500GB 7200RPM magnetic hard disks) and wanted to share what I've learned about setting up RAID on the system.


First, as you may have heard, the Mac mini Server does not include any installation/reinstallation media (I was hoping for a USB reinstall key, but it seems that the new systems don't include these or optical discs; last year's Mac mini Server included handy reinstall DVDs even though the system didn't have an optical drive).  Out of the box, the new Mac mini Server has Mac OS X Lion, the iLife suite, and the Mac OS X Lion Server tools pre-installed on one of the two 500GB internal drives; the other disk is formatted as a separate, second drive.


If this is the configuration you're looking for, you're good to go right out of the box.  As an aside, this shipping configuration is ideal for using the second disk as a Time Machine drive.  I would argue that Time Machine would be a better use of the second volume than a RAID 1 configuration, as Time Machine provides versioned backups and you don't incur the write performance penalty RAID 1 requires every time data is saved to the disk.  I would further caution that, while an internal Time Machine disk is a convenient safety measure, any critical data should be backed up outside of the system as well.


Now for those like me who were intrigued by the opportunity to mate the Quad Core i7 with a RAID 0/striped configuration for a performance boost (or if you want to use RAID 1), a RAID configuration is possible, but it there are a few caveats.


First, Apple has two recovery options for the new Macs: a small hidden recovery partition on the boot drive and their Internet Recovery system.  While it's possible to boot other systems from a Lion installation DVD extracted from the App Store Lion installer, such bootable optical discs will not boot the Mac mini Server at this time (this may change if Apple modifies the App Store Lion installer).  Therefore, as of right now, the recovery partition or the Internet Recovery system are the best options for installing/reinstalling on a RAID set.


Second, if you boot the system using Command+R to access the recovery partition, you can wipe the two drives and create a RAID set, but this process will remove the recovery partition and is incompatible with FileVault encryption (a warning to this effect comes up when you try to start an install/reinstalll on a RAID set, but at that point, you've likely already erased the recovery partition in Disk Utility).  If the system boots after the recovery partition is deleted, the only install/reinstall option is Apple's Internet Recovery.


Third, as might be expected depending upon your internet bandwidth, the Internet Recovery system can take a while to boot the recovery tools (10-15 minutes to boot on a standard cable modem connection) and to reinstall the OS (50+ minutes on a standard cable modem connection).  Internet Recovery currently reinstalls only Mac OS X Lion and the Server tools on the mini Server; there's no option to install iLife during the OS install (Apple could always change this by updating their servers, and there is a Customize button on the installer, but it is greyed out and cannot be clicked at the present).


Fourth, once the OS is reinstalled, it's possible to reinstall the iLife applications by launching the App Store from within Mac OS and selecting Purchased.  The store will indicate that the system is eligible to download the iLife apps and you can do so by agreeing to upload system-identifying information to Apple and signing in with your Apple ID.


I hope all this helps.  Here's a more concise step-by-step of how to set up the system with RAID:



  • A fast Internet connection for the mini
  • Patience


  1. Hold Command+R on the keyboard at start up to boot from the system's recovery partition (if the recovery partition has been deleted, the system should start from Apple's Internet Recovery system; you may need to connect to WiFi if wired ethernet isn't available)
  2. Once you get into the recovery utility, select Disk Utility and for each of the two hard drives:
    • highlight the drive
    • select the Partition tab
    • select 1 Partition from the Partition Layout pulldown menu
    • select Free Space from the Format pulldown menu
    • click Apply
  3. After you've wiped both of the drives, highlight one of the disks and click the RAID tab, then create a RAID set (striped or mirrored, as you prefer)
  4. Quit Disk Utility and from the main recovery utility menu select Reinstall Lion (from this point on, if you have any trouble, you can restart the mini from the Internet Recovery system and return to this point, but the recovery partition will be gone as long as you keep the RAID set)
  5. After you install and configure Mac OS X Lion Server (which can take well over an hour to download and install), you should be able to reinstall the iLife applications by launching the App Store App and selecting Purchased, then logging in with your Apple ID and agreeing to send your system info to Apple to download the iLife Applications


If you're using the mini as a production server, I highly suggest setting up some local, external recovery tool, as you don't want to have system downtime protracted by having to wait for an Internet Recovery boot/reinstall.  I would also beg Apple to consider this sort of scenario and to provide more supported methods for recovering and reinstalling from local media.


Best of luck to you all.

  • isnoop Level 1 (45 points)

    I foolishly wiped my two drives and mirrored them together about 6 hours ago.  I've just completed my 5th 45-minute long attempt at reinstalling Lion Server from the web and I got the same error as before:


    "Can't download the additional components needed to install Mac OS X.  Check your Internet connection and try again."


    Of course, my internet connection works just fine.  I can only imagine their servers are swamped and cannot serve up some critical files.  Now my next best option is to take my brand new machine to the mac store to have them reinstall the OS.


    This is a crying shame.  Apple, you need to provide backup media.

  • isnoop Level 1 (45 points)

    Okay, after much hassle and a myriad of other errors, I decided to give up on the mirrored drive setup and go back to JBOD.  Of course, as soon as I did that, it worked perfectly.  Apparently the current version of the OSX web installer can't handle RAID installs.


    Once I'm happy with my machine, I'll create a disk image and then re-attempt the RAID mirror.

  • ideelist Level 1 (0 points)



    Sorry to hear that you're having trouble with this.  The issues you've described are exactly the sort of problem that I feared.  I can confirm that I was able to complete an Internet Recovery install on a striped RAID set successfully last night (I haven't tried RAID 1/mirroring).  When I first attempted to install after creating the RAID set yesterday afternoon, I saw an estimate of over 5 hours for the Internet Recovery install, so I stopped and shut down the system.  I tried again an hour later and the installation completed in about an hour.  Given this discrepancy and other issues I've read about, I would guess that Apple's servers are getting a high volume of traffic right now and this may be the source of the problem.


    Still, for the benefit of any readers of this thread, I'm wondering:


    1. Has anyone gotten RAID 1 (mirrored) working?
    2. In a RAID 1 (mirrored) configuration, does the Lion installer create a local recovery partition (it seems like this may be more possible with RAID 1 than with RAID 0)?


    Thanks and good luck.

  • isnoop Level 1 (45 points)



    I finally got it working.  Well, kinda.  I had to break the RAID array and then the reinstall worked like a charm the very first time.  It would seem there is some sort of bug when trying to do the web instal on a mirrored set.


    I'll just have to get the box set up the way I want, create a time machine backup, then set up the RAID and restore the backup.    

  • Eccles6 Level 1 (0 points)

    Also be aware that if using Raid, you can't use the Diskutil GUI tools for actions such as verify or repair of permissions. This has to be done from a Terminal command line.


    sudo diskutil verifyPermissions <Disk Device>

    sudo diskutil repairPermissions <Disk Device>

  • _Marchel Level 1 (0 points)
    Just an idea for using backup/restore with RAID :

    After installation as usual make a backup with the time-machine to an external storage


    Insert the Leopard install DVD server and then select restore function.
    ( press " C"  button while restarting )
    This probably works with Time Machine.
    Not tested by me

    If this will not:

    Make a lion (client) Recovery DVD.
    To assume that the backup can be put back.
    I also assume that you have a lion client .


  • Tommiemel Level 1 (0 points)

    I found the basic principle on another forum thanks to a guy called 'e-whizz' and this what I did to make RAID 1 work on a mac mini server with LION server.


    You can easily configure the second drive on a mac mini server for a Mirrored RAID 1 set with Lion Server without either reinstalling or erasing your existing setup.

    The initial setup process takes about 30 minutes, though the rebuilding of the mirror disk will take several hours, depending on the amount of data you have on the drive. It took around 3 hours on a new mac mini server with lion server installed, nothing else configured.


    Before you start, please ensure you have a current backup of the server. Getting the following commands wrong can render you server unusable.


    What you need to use is the command line version of Disk Utility, diskutil.


    Before you start, clone the hard drive. You can use SuperDuper (or similar, I have used SuperDuper) with copying all files onto a USB memory stick. If Lion is freshly installed, 8Gb will do. SuperDuper will create a bootable copy on the USB.


    Boot the mac mini from the external USB. To do that, reboot and hold down the option key while restarting. You will see a window, select the USB drive to boot from.


    Launch the terminal and type the following command:

    diskutil list


    This gives you a list of all the drives and partitions your system knows about.

    You need to find the Server HD partition (the first disk) and the HD2 partitions (the second disk). These are the two main ~500GB drives. You will be using the disk IDENTIFIERs when issuing the diskutil commands. For a stock standard Mac Mini Server, the commands below are correct, but if you have previously changed the volume names, or repartitioned at any stage the disk identifiers and volume names may differ.


    First enable RAID mirroring on existing Server HD volume. This will create a single disk, unpaired mirror, without affecting your data.


    Using this syntax:

    diskutil appleRAID enable mirror disktomirror

    where disktomirror is your disk identifier for Server HD


    On my mac mini server, Server HD was disk0s2, so I used this command:

    diskutil appleRAID enable mirror disk0s2


    You now need to run diskutil list again to see the disk identifier for the new RAID volume. The new RAID volume will be listed as disk# on its own at the bottom of the list.

    On my mac mini server this was disk3 (disk 2 was the USB I booted from, disk 0 the first disk and disk 1 the second disk)


    Next add the disk HD2 to the Server HD raid mirror volume (on my mac, as I said before, this is disk3) as a new member.


    This step will erase disk HD2 and begin an auto repair of the Server HD.


    Using this syntax:

    diskutil appleRAID add member newdisk raidvolume

    replacing newdisk and raidvolume with your particular disk identifiers


    On my server this was:

    diskutil appleRAID add member disk1s2 disk3



    To follow the progress of rebuilding the mirror set, type

    diskutil list

    It will show you the progress in % of the rebuilding under status


    Once finished, reboot and your RAID 1 is up and running and you have also a working backup on your USB (coz' that's where you booted from ;-)


    After reboot you can check the status of your RAID with

    diskutil appleRAID list

    Both drives should show ONLINE under status, interestingly, the device node for the RAID changed on my mac mini server from disk3 to disk2


    That's it

  • Rob Davies1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Just make an install USB Flash Drive, reboot server. Utilise Disk Utility to format drives into which variant of RAID you require.


    This allows one to place Xcode and other necessities within install key.


    This of course if after you have Time Machined your original setup if you require whatever Apple installed.

    But, iLife would register as you own it, so App Store will allow you to re-install, as for Recovery Drive. If you have Time Machined drive what is need for?


    One word of advice make key from fresh download of iINSTALL LION, it is in Application Folder. Once initialised it is gone as is LION SERVER install.


    But, as above, once purchased App Store knows this, and lets one re-download.




  • autra Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for these steps. I followed them, but what I did instead of doing a full install was take a Time Machine backup first, then created the raid0 via Command+R. Afterwards, I exited the Disk Utility and went to the Restore from Time Machine.

    This way, I didn't need to re-setup the server nor have to worry about the download failing.

  • woodmeister50 Level 5 (4,850 points)

    Here is something that will work.


    Before doing anything other than the original power up of

    the new server and the nonsense that involves, you can do

    te following to make a machine specific clone with recovery



    1.  Get a USB or Firewire drive.  Repartition it GUID and

    with one volume 1 GB and a second volume whatever.


    2.  On the Mini Server, open terminal and type in the following:

               defaults write DUDebugMenuEnabled 1

          This enables the debug in Disk Utility.


    3.  Open disk utility and in the debug menu select show all partitions.

          The Recovery HD shoul be seen grayed out.  Select and mount it.

          Next select restore option.  It should be shown as source, if not drag

          it there.  Next drag the 1 GB partition created on the external drive

          to destination.  Then click restore.


         Actually, at this point you have an exact duplicate of all the files

          preset on the Recovery HD.  This will be machine specific.

          There is another method where you extract a DMG, but this creates

          a generic Recovery HD which may not work.


    4.  You can use the Restore to clone the actual Lion install the the remaining

          partition in the same way.  Or, use your favorite cloning software.


    5.  Then you can do as you wish with the internal drives and still have a bootable

         Recovery HD and system HD, which is "pristine".

  • thegr8td Level 1 (0 points)

    That worked perfectly.  No more recovery partition, but I'll just keep the Lion recovery USB stick for future use.


    I set up RAID 0/striped and then reinstalled from Time Capsule.  Took about 2 hours to recover 100GB, it booted and works fine.  I didn't benchmark before/after, but definitely faster boot.



  • Apple Heart Level 1 (5 points)

    Hi there,


    I would be please if anyone could tell me if a full factory-restore is possible after going for the Raid 0 config?


    Would this work you think:

    Internet Recovery > Disk Utility > Delete Raid and set HD back to normal > Install Lion from download


    If the Internet install re-create the recovery partiton evrything should be back to normal. Question is, does it work this way?

  • mark-mc-uk Level 1 (0 points)

    I have, just this evening, finished restoring Lion Server from Internet Recovery, to a RAID1 setup on a Lion Server (Core i7, August 2011).


    Decided, following instructions on the web and apple care's advice, to use the GUI (Disk Utility) to build the RAID1 array, using a second Mac, and by putting the Mac Mini into Target Disk Mode.


    Once the array had rebuilt (having been degraded upon adding the second (blank) disk), the diskutil command line AND the GUI, both reported "Online" for both disks. This was after nearly 40 hours by the way people … yep … 40 hours to rebuild 500Gb!


    Rebooted the Mac Mini … DEAD. Flashing folder with question mark of death on it. No recognised operating system apparently this means!


    Bought the Mac Mini to a faster Internet connection to try with Cmd+R for Internet Recovery, and re-installed Lion Server. This is where it got even more curious…


    It re-installs, which took about 4 hours in total, and then boots up as if it's virgin 'out of the box'. So it asks for company name, etc etc. but no usernames?! Then it gives me a login prompt .. having NOT asked for a username!


    I try the previously working admin account, hey presto, in we get! Launch … hmm… several of the services are still running as before. All the users are still there, all the groups are still there. The sharepoints have gone, but re-adding them maintains their original mount permissions. The Wiki is reporting 'Error Reading Settings' - kinda helpful, but also NOT helpful in any way!


    So re-installing doesn't do exactly what I'd expected, but hey.. it's somewhere close!?


    Now the dilemma … do I restore from the previous time machine backup … or do I leave it as it is now?


    Apple … are DVDs really THAT expensive that when buying a machine for around £1000 you can't provide media with it? Seriously… on a BT broadband line in the UK the Mac was estimating about 12 hours to re-install the OS, that's assuming the line stays up for that long, which is not a given in some places! Progress?

  • petercohrs Level 1 (0 points)

    To cut a long story short

    OSX LION is not installable on a OSX LION SOFTWARE RAID.

    I tried striped and concatenated. No chance.

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