Pros and Cons of Mac Hosting
Here are the advantages and potential pitfalls of hosting your website on a Mac.
- More reliable — On a Mac OS server, you can run all the same software you use locally with no issues.
- You can use programs like Mac Mail to manage emails.
- Easier to use as a Mac user since you're more used to Mac software.
- Hosts that offer Mac servers are hard to find.
- Mac servers often cost more because they're in less demand.
- Most software can be run just fine on a Linux server.
What Is Mac Hosting?
While most Web hosting providers only carry hosting plans designed for Linux or Windows operating systems, many have also responded to the increasing demand for plans which work with Mac operating systems as well.
About Mac Hosting
While researching general hosting plans, you'll like to encounter many highly definitive opinions on whether to choose Windows or Linux as the operating system for your web server.
However, it is also possible to find a specialty provider who can provide a web-hosted server running OS X or iOS — the operating systems for Apple devices.
First — it should be noted to novice web developers — the operating system for your website does not need to match the operating system of your computer.
A website hosted on a Microsoft IIS server will work on any operating system. Similarly, a website hosted on a Linux server will run on any operating system.
Running Web Servers on Your Mac
Also, it is possible to run a Node.js or Apache web server from your Mac, but you can just as easily run a similar web server on a Linux web host. In fact, both Linux and Mac are Unix based operating systems.
The terminal prompt takes the same Unix commands. Many software packages can operate system Kernel — which interprets the hardware for use by the applications.
Comparison of Mac, Linux, and Windows
Different "flavors" of Linux use different Kernels, while OS X is based on the "Darwin" Kernel.
Generally, developers choose to run Linux web servers because they are Unix based, but they are also free — not having a license cost — which OS X does have.
Additionally, Linux can run without an X server — which is the controller of the visual interface that allows a computer to be controlled with a monitor.
To kick things off right, let's take a brief look at Mac, Windows and Linux side-by-side:
|Linux||Cheap||Low to high-end||Yes||Extremely safe|
|Windows||Moderate||Minimum CPU and RAM requirements||No||Moderately safe|
Mac Hosting for Applications
With that clarified, Mac hosting options do exist. With the purpose of handling specific software applications for the OS X platform, they can run a remote iCloud service or some custom projects which cannot run on any other operating system.
If you're running applications that require the Apple OS X operating system or are developing content for OS X or the iPhone's iOS, then you may want to look into finding a Mac host.
Many hosting providers who specialize in Macs do so to provide remote computing environments that replace or supplement existing ones.
Hosting your server and running it remotely combines the power of (for example) a MacPro server with the reliability and uptime guarantees that come with your provider's datacenter.
6 Useful Features of Mac Hosting
Mac hosting generally involves a datacenter that has a multitude of Mac computers prepared and ready for rental.
A Mac computer could also be hosted on a virtual machine as part of either shared hosting or a virtual private server.
At a high level, a Mac hosting environment can provide a way to have a remote desktop at your fingertips — but there are a variety of other popular uses:
- Web and Email Hosting
- Jenkins and Xcode Server Integration
- OS X Software Automated Testing
- Daylite CRM Hosting
- Filemaker Database Hosting
- Remote Rendering
Web and E-mail Hosting
Generic web hosting and e-mail services are an expected feature, as standard.
Mac hosting environments are generally user-friendly, especially for e-mail related services.
Jenkins and Xcode Server Integration
Xcode is the Apple IDE used for developing apps for Apple devices. "Continuous integration" refers to a software improvement process — using Xcode and Xcode Server — that spans automation, testing, and analysis.
It includes using your Mac to create apps in Xcode, pushing the code to a repository, then pushing it from there to Xcode Server.
The Jenkins plugin for Xcode facilitates automating this continuous integration workflow.
OS X Software Automated Testing
Emulating a Mac environment isn't always the same as running an application on the intended hardware.
For automated testing in OS X, renting remote servers is much cheaper than buying a variety of hardware & devices.
Daylite CRM Hosting
Daylite is an information aggregator for all data in the Mac ecosystem, with a ton of business functions which includes shared native support for iCal, address books, task management, and creative servers.
Filemaker Database Hosting
Filemaker is a relational database platform that runs on Apple devices. It has a graphical interface, allows scripting, and has existed in some form since 1992!
You can easily create and share database-related apps even from templates.
With a high powered remote Mac computer that has 3D modeling software installed — an array of computers could be used where each one renders a segment of video and then the results are transferred back locally.
Mac-Hosted Websites for Enterprises
While a Mac-hosted website is a good concept for workflow management and team-based solutions, it is not often used for enterprise-level web applications.
When choosing to purchase web hosting with a Mac OS — try to figure out ahead of time what the purpose of the server might be.
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Getting Started with Mac Hosting
To start running applications on your hosted Mac server, or to set up Mac-driven hosting for your website, you'll first need to identify which hosting providers offer Mac servers.
Does a Mac OS X Server Suffice for You?
Once you've gathered a few top contenders, simply compare their plans until you find the one which best suits your needs.
Be sure to list out all of your requirements ahead of time and make sure that a Mac OS X server is the right tool for the job.
When your server is ready, a combination of remote desktop, SSH, or another remote connection platform will need to be used — based on whatever those requirements might be.
Host Your Own Server With a Mac Mini
A Mac Mini is simply a desktop computer packed into a small package. A Mac Mini is not as powerful as a normal Mac desktop, but would still have enough power to power most basic webservers.
If you have the technical skills required for setting up a webserver, it's a potential solution for you instead of going with a traditional host company.
It would have it's own Mac address, and you could install any Mac firewall you wanted.
Buying a Mac Mini just to host a website is a more expensive investment upfront.
If you have the right technical skills to maintain it, you do however save money on monthly hosting costs.
Enable Web Sharing on Your Mac in 6 Quick Steps
Additionally, you can actually use your own Mac for personalized Web Sharing, since Macs are equipped with the Apache web server software. Here is how you can enable web sharing using VirtualHostX:
- Download MAMP
- Install MAMP
- Relocate Virtual Hosts
- Set Default Web Server
- Run the Setup Wizard
- Apply and Launch
Download MAMP (MyApache, MySQL, PHP). MAMP does not have a separate installer for the free version, but we can get around this pothole in the next step.
Once you've downloaded MAMP, proceed to install it. To use the free version, ensure you click 'customize' and un-tick the option for MAMP Pro.
Relocate Virtual Hosts
After you have successfully installed MAMP, place your virtual hosts into the following directory: "/applications/MAMP/htdocs"
Set Default Web Server
If you haven't done so yet, go to your VirtualHostX preferences and set MAMP as your default web server. This is located in the general settings section.
Run the Setup Wizard
Go to your VirtualHostX menu. Look for an option named VirtualHostX Setup Wizard. Run it.
Apply and Launch
Before you close this window, be sure to select 'apply' so your settings are saved. You are ready to launch MAMP!
If you are still confused, check out the online video tutorials for this.
My 3 Top Choices for Mac Hosting
For the most part, you can purchase any hosting plan and manage it with your Mac, even if your host isn't using Mac servers. While you may run into some problems, picking the right host will reduce the chance of any issues. Here are my top 3 hosts.
If you're looking for a low-cost host that is still reasonably friendly to Mac users, try GreenGeeks.
It's cheap, but still has tutorials and support specifically for Mac users.
It's also a host dedicated to helping the environment, as it's powered purely by renewable energy.
Each hosting plan comes with SSH command line access, meaning that you can interact with them from your Mac terminal.
There's also a 30-day money back guarantee and 24/7 support available through live chat, email, or phone.
Interserver also has custom made plans specifically for Mac users.
These plans all let you read and manage your e-mail account through Mac Mail, instead of the default webmail applications that others force you to use.
Interserver's Mac plan comes with free daily backups, 24/7 support, and support for all Mac and iOS devices.
The pricing is extremely competitive, and you also get a 99.99% uptime guarantee with your plan.
My next recommendation is WebHostFace who also have cheap Mac plans.
They offer three different tiers, and the cheapest already comes with unlimited bandwidth, free daily backups, premium SSD servers, and cPanel included.
The greatest difference between Mac hosting plan tiers is the amount of storage you get, starting at 15 GB with the lowest tier plan.
WebHostFace has a wide variety of other hosting packages, including shared, VPS, dedicated, and specialist framework hosting plans.
Other features in Operating Systems
Looking for serious Mac hosting?
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