Server 5.4 was recently released, which requires Mac OS 10.13 or later. Older versions of the Server app won’t run on High Sierra, so if you upgrade a Mac “server” to 10.13, you must additionally upgrade the Server app to 5.4.
As crazy as it may sound, Apple has removed many core features in Server 5.4, including: File sharing, Caching server, Time Machine backup server, FTP sharing, and Xcode Server.
Yes, you heard me right, Server 5.4 no longer provides the option to setup network file shares!
Furthermore, if you had previously setup the Server app to serve out these features that were removed, then upgrade to High Sierra and Server 5.4… too bad, you lose!
Apple is downplaying this change, dismissing most of it as a sidenote saying “Caching Server, Time Machine Server, and File Sharing advanced options are now built directly into macOS”. This translates to the Sharing system preference pane in High Sierra has few new features. It now includes an option for enabling a Content Caching service, plus a non-intuitive process* has been added for configuring a network Time Machine destination or advanced file sharing.
So that’s it for me, Macs are officially out of the game when it comes to file servers. Apple has further pushed themselves away from this segment of the Enterprise market. The Server app has become a tool targeted at Profile Management (pushing configuration profiles to iOS devices).
*I’m not recommending a Mac running High Sierra be utilized as a file server or network Time Machine destination, but the process for accessing these configuration options is worth sharing. From within the Sharing system preference pane, enable file sharing and add a shared folder. Now control-click on that shared folder and, select Advanced Options from the contextual menu.
Apple’s last server operating system was Mac OS X Server 10.6. Back in the late 2000s this was a robust server offering, and it came with a price tag of $999 for an unlimited license (then you had to spend 2-4k for an Xserve to run it on!).
In 2012 Apple introduced their $19.99 Server app, which can be installed on any Apple hardware including Mac minis. The capabilities of the Server app were diminished, and it was clear that Apple had removed themselves from the Enterprise server market.
Apple’s $19.99 Server app has been upgraded over the years, and some features were dropped along the way (like Workgroup Manager support in Server 4). Even so, if properly configured the Server app could do one thing well… share files out over the AFP protocol to a small group of Macs.
The Server app could also perform a lot of other “server” functions too, like mail or DHCP services, but personally I rarely recommended these capabilities because I felt they were afterthoughts and not well supported by Apple. My mentality was “you get what you pay for”, so getting a solid Mac file server for less than $20 was pushing things anyway.