Share Your External Hard Drive to Your Wi-Fi Network

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If you’re looking to access your external hard drive without having to deal with the archaic method of lugging it around your home and plugging it into every device with which you need to use it, there are two simple solutions on how to share your external hard drive via your Wi-Fi network.

For the first solution, you’ll need to check your router. Most modern routers have a USB port into which you can plug in a USB-compliant device to share with other devices on your network, like a printer or, in this case, an external hard drive. Once you’ve located the USB port on your router, go ahead and plug in your USB external hard drive. Most modern routers should instantly recognize that an external hard drive has been connected. It is also recommended that you sign in to your router’s settings, whether it’s through a browser or its mobile app, and find an option for file sharing, USB application, or something similarly labeled. Depending on your router, you may have access to more options. For example, the ASUS RT-AC68U router allows for file sharing or multimedia access. Using ASUS AiDisk, you’ll even have remote access and quick content streaming.

ASUS RT-AC68U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router

The method above supports up to 4TB external hard drives, depending on the format. You can opt for the WD 4TB My Book Desktop External HDD or the WD 4TB Elements Desktop External HDD, but some external hard drives are designed to be shared across your network, like the WD My Cloud Home 4TB 1-Bay Personal Cloud NAS Server. With the WD My Cloud, you can connect it to your router via Gigabit Ethernet instead of a USB port.

WD My Cloud Home 8TB 1-Bay Personal Cloud NAS Server

When connected, you have remote access to your WD My Cloud Home through a browser or a mobile app. WD My Cloud Home allows you to store and organize your photos, videos, and music on your home network and streamed to multiple devices, like other PCs, media players, gaming consoles, and other DLNA-certified devices. You can also back up files from multiple computers to your WD My Cloud Home. Another handy option is uploading photos and videos directly from your smartphone to free up storage on your mobile device. The WD My Cloud Home also has a USB expansion port, which you can use to attach a compatible USB 3.1 Gen 1 hard drive to expand your storage capacity. You can set up password protection on your WD My Cloud Home, which is recommended.

It’s also recommended that you map the external drive on your computer for fast, easy access. Mapping a network drive is simple. Just follow the steps listed below.

Windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar or the Start menu. Alternatively, you can use the Windows Key + E shortcut.
  2. Select This PC from the left panel and then select Map network drive in the Computer tab.
  3. In the Drive list, select the drive letter (any available letter will do).
  4. In the Folder box, type the path of the folder or computer, or select Browse to find the folder. To connect every time you log onto your PC, select the Reconnect at sign-in check box.
  5. Don’t forget to click Finish when you’re finished.

macOS High Sierra

  1. In Finder, click Go in the menu and select Connect to Server.
  2. Enter your external hard drive’s address and click Connect.
  3. Choose the radio button Registered User and enter the Name and Password of the user with access rights to the specific share to be mapped.
  4. Choose a share on the drive and press OK.
  5. To show the mapped drives on the desktop open the Finder preferences (Select Finder then Preferences) and check the Connected Servers box.

Have you tried connecting an external hard drive to your router via USB or Gigabit Ethernet? Let us know what your setup is like in the Comments section, below.

4 Comments

Is there any known issue when attaching dual hdd's to a router? IE: i have a Netgear nighthawk R7000 that worked great with my (now full) 2 TB MyBook. But my new 28TB MyBook Duo isn't recognized. 

The Netgear R7000 can support 2 USB hard drives natively.  You may have to map the second drive.  If you've done this and the drive still does not show, it's possible the port may have an issue and you may have to contact Netgear directly for further support.

Anyone know if deleting & reformatting an already in use HDD would be required? I just ask as it's something I believe I have seen referenced before & it may be common knowledge to others, that the Drive intended for sharing purposes must be empty, so the writer may have felt no mention of it was necessary.

Many modern hard drives with built-in Wi-Fi shouldn't require a reformat. But, if you are building a new NAS array and using your own drives you will likely have to reformat before they can be properly configured. Though, if it is your first setup with networked drives I would always recommend using new or reformatted drives.

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