Consuming Services On a Sleeping Mac

I seem to change my home file server platform like most people change their socks. My most recent change was from Windows Server 2008 to a Mac Mini running Snow Leopard.

Since most of the computers in our house are now Macs, it seemed like a logical next step to migrate our server back-end to match.

Making the change, honestly, didn’t give me any functionality that I didn’t already have. That said, there have been two primary benefits to justify my course of action. The first is the move to the Mac Mini platform means my server footprint is now much smaller. While not a technical benefit, I do like the smaller box and the extra real estate that it affords.The second benefit has to do with my attempt to be as economical as possible by saving a few dollars on the monthly electric bill.

With my file services and shared iTunes library running on a Mac, I now had the ability to allow my server to go to sleep until I needed one its services. Think about that for a minute and you will realize just how cool that really is!

To make this work, we take advantage of Bonjour, which is Apple’s service directory protocol. Like many “things” Apple, setting this up is a breeze.The key is to ensure that you have an AirPort Extreme Base Station (2007 or more recent model) or Time Capsule (2008 or more recent model) with the current 7.4.2 firmware installed.

With one of these devices on your network, it will automatically keep track of the Bonjour aware services running on computers that are in sleep mode.When you request a service from one of these sleeping machines the AirPort or Time Capsule will then send a wake-up command to the system and it will spring back to life thus allowing you to access the service you requested.

While not the most exciting thing you can do with your Mac, it certainly is functional.

If you decide to give this a go, be sure to perform a few Google searches and read more about this capability since there are plenty of provisos that come along with its use.

Happy computing!