In 2011, I bought a Mac mini as my home desk setup. I used it for everything that had to be done on a computer: surfing the web, emails, music management using iTunes, photo management, and basic coding. In 2015, I bought a beefy 15” MacBook Pro since some of my workloads required a little more ‘oomph’ than the Mac mini could deliver.
From then on, the Mac mini became basically the home server. I set it up as a headless server, mainly used for storing backups and running a Plex server back then. I even upgraded the Mac mini with a 500GB SSD and maxed out the possible RAM to 16GB. The Mac mini was my trusty workhorse - until September 2020. That was the month in which my Mac mini Mid 2011 sadly died. I had observed some funky things going on earlier, and I had a feeling that it would die soon, but in the end, it came as a surprise.
I needed a new solution for my backup strategy, as until its last day, the Mac mini was the most critical computer in our household. It managed all backups automatically and mirrored everything using a cloud backup service (Backblaze).
I investigated different options, from using an old Windows laptop in a headless server mode to using a Raspberry Pi and an external hard disk. I also had an ‘old’ gaming PC from 2018 that was a candidate. Long story short: none of the above options was a viable option to take over the responsibilities of my late Mac mini. One of the main reasons was: time. I did not have the time to find the best tools and configure everything, so I trusted the setup to do what it was supposed to do. I wished I had the time, as it is also fun to tinker around with this stuff. However, with family and work at the top of my priority list, I did not have the time and motivation to set up a custom server.
So, I bought a used Mac mini with the new M1 chipset. It came with a whopping 2 GB SSD and 16 GB. It was a no-brainer: It was used, and the price was perfect. The housing was quite scratched, but I only cared about the insides. And those insides were perfect.
That was back at the beginning of November 2020. It just took over the space on the ceiling where its predecessor had lived for the past 3 years. I set up all the tools I needed to back up my wife’s and my laptops, and that’s what the Mac mini has been doing flawlessly. So much so that I completely forgot about it. It sits on the wall, takes care of our backups, and is also our print server. I only had to think about it today because I received a mail from my work’s IT org to finally upgrade my old company Mac Book (that I still own) to Mac OS Ventura. That got me thinking: “Hey, I think I should probably upgrade our Mac mini too!”
Today is the first time I connected to the Mac mini - a little more than 4 months after setting it up. It welcomed me with the message to upgrade to Ventura (finally) - I guess it was a bit annoyed for not paying attention.
Yes - it is the best Mac! The best one is the one you forget you own :-) Here’s to the next 10 years on my Mac Mini M1 2020! R.I.P. Mac Mini Mid 2011