Top Nav

How to Share a USB drive from Your Wi-Fi Router

If you want an easy way to share a drive with all of the computers and devices in your home, take a look at your router. If you have a fairly modern router, chances are it has a USB port built into it. Here’s a look at how to set it up and share content across your home network.

Note: Keep in mind that some steps will vary depending on the type of router you have, but the process is generally the same. Also, make sure to check your router documentation to see if there are any storage restrictions. I recommend using a new drive or a freshly formatted one, but if you have files on a drive already that you want to share, you can just plug that in and not have to format it.

Share USB Drive from Wi-Fi Router

Pick the hard drive or flash drive that you want to use, and you can use external or portable hard drives too…anything with a USB connection. For this I am using a Linksys E4200 Dual-Band Wi-Fi router and a 64GB flash drive.

USB port on router

Pop it into the USB port on the back of your Wi-Fi router and then you’ll need admin access to your router. From a computer on your network, open the browser enter your router’s IP into a browser and enter your password. This will be the IP and password you used when initially setting up your Wi-Fi router.

Then in the router’s settings, look for drive storage, file sharing, or something similar. You can see in my example below that the drive is recognized and there are different options for the drive available, including creating a share.

wi-fi router control panel

You can use your Wi-Fi router to create a network share of the folder, if that function is available, but I prefer to use Windows. The steps in this article will work for everyone, no matter what brand of router, or computer experience level.

Open the Network folder and clear the path in File Explorer and replace it with “\\routeripFore example, I would type in: \\192.168.1.1 and hit Enter.

network path

After hitting Enter, your drive will show up in the File Explorer as a shared folder with the name you gave it earlier. From here you might want to pin it to Start in Windows 8.x or just create a shortcut to it on the desktop.

Network Drive

If you want to access that drive from other computers on your network, you’ll want to map it as a network drive. That’s what I am doing with the shot below – mapping it as a drive on a Windows 7 system.

map drive

You can use the drive connected to your Wi-Fi router just like you would any drive. This is a good solution if you have family situation and want to share music, videos, and photos with everyone else.

drive

Do keep in mind that this drive will be open to everyone in your household, so you definitely don’t want to store any type of confidential or otherwise sensitive files on it.

Performance will vary based on several factors, your router, network traffic, file size, etc. If you have a new router with USB 3.0 port, you’ll want to have a USB 3.0 compatible as well for best performance.

If you’re looking for a new Gigabit router that has USB 3.0 capability, here are a couple of affordable ones you might want to look into:

Or if you’re comfortable with USB 2.0 speeds, check out the ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router which is more affordable at around $100.

Really, there are several makes and models to choose from, but when purchasing a new router, make sure to have at least a USB 2.0 port on board to make sharing files at home easy.

More Reading:

,

21 Responses to How to Share a USB drive from Your Wi-Fi Router

  1. Valery January 10, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    I have an asus router and fairly techy… Never knew this was even possible. Very groovy indeed. Thbx Brian.

    • Brian Burgess January 13, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

      You bet! Always glad to share cool features of technology products you might not be aware of!

      • M4X1N3 July 25, 2016 at 4:27 am #

        hi brian, when I try to edit inside the hard drive (as you would for any personal drive). Error says “You need permission to perform this action”.
        How can I change any settings so I can use it, as if it was physically connected to my PComputer ?

  2. Ziggy January 18, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Wow! What more can I say Brian, but thanks a zillion!

  3. Elben February 4, 2015 at 3:51 am #

    Doesn’t it have the same effect as plugging in the usb into the computer and sharing it like any other folder in windows?

  4. Dipak Kumar July 4, 2015 at 1:07 am #

    Brian, good to see this. It is very helpful. My wifi router has no usb port but 4 LAN port. Can I share my external USB Hard drive any way? Is there any port available to connect LAN to USB to perform like this?

  5. Tom September 18, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    Awesome article, thanks Brian.

    I have connected the drive successfully and mapped it to a drive letter, but I’m unable to create folders. I’ve tried changing the permissions, but it just won’t allow me even though I’m admin. I’ve tried changing security settings in the right click menu, but no dice. Have you any tips?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Justin February 10, 2016 at 7:35 am #

      Same issue here. I’d love to hear a solution.

  6. virender November 26, 2015 at 2:31 am #

    Sir, I have TPLink WR720N Router without USB port. I know I can not connect external USB HDD to the router. Please tell me if I connect external HDD via Female USB to Male Ethernet Adapter can solve my problem. Please reply. Regards!

  7. Shiva January 18, 2016 at 5:33 am #

    My router doesn’t have an usb port would it work if i connect the usb through female usb to male Ethernet adapter ?

  8. Captain Obvious January 24, 2016 at 11:47 pm #

    Folks If your router does not have a USB adaptor then it will not work as the firmware will not handle it. Plug any adaptor in you like and it still won’t work.Spend the $$ and buy a new router that has USB.

  9. Jim January 29, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    Thanks, Brian! I just referenced your helpful article in my review of a TRENDnet router on Amazon. The router in question has two USB ports and grandpa here has no clue what he’s doing (in general!), but your article enabled me to get a Win 10 PC connected to an external drive connected to that router in under 2 minutes, with shortcuts to the connected drives on the desktop.
    Very groovy indeed!

  10. Richard Meinhard February 24, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    My Zyxel fr1000r router from CenturyLink won’t recognize flash drive in USB port nor does the indicator light on the flash drive illuminate. Is it possible a flash drive won’t work on CenturyLink’s router from Zyxel? I can’t find any settings for storage or USB devices nor does the flash drive show up in the Device Table.

  11. Christian March 31, 2016 at 8:12 am #

    Richard,

    I believe ur problem is the port on ur router is not active, per something on CenturyLinks documentation I read last night. It says it will be active in future firmware releases, which explains why u have no options in the software user interface.

    I found this out as I tried to connect my external hard drive as well. So I am now looking for a new router compatible with CL DSL.

  12. fernando ricagno April 22, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    I have a ZTE router H168N with USB port .
    Please could you tell me what should I enable in the router to have the possibility to share the Disk ? I cannot find
    I`m trying to access it from MAC and W7 and in both cases I can access it via ftp .
    but cannot access with the Go connect to a server in MAC or the Map network drive in W7
    Thanks

  13. Mirek April 28, 2016 at 6:02 am #

    Folks, any experience with the lifetime of the USB storage that will be continuously “under power”?
    I have mentioned Asus N66U router and I want connect WD My Passport 2 TB disk to store movies, which will streamed by built-in ASUS DLNA server to my OPPO bluray player connected to my home cinema.
    But I’m wondering if the “non NAS” storage can stand for continuous operation 24×7 connected to the router or if burns down after 1 or 2 years…
    any experience? thanks

    • Duke of Zurich May 22, 2016 at 12:46 am #

      @Mirek, I’m using a generic USB-Stick attached to my Asus Router, up and running 24/7 for the last 7 years without one single problem.

  14. ccna security June 24, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

    thanks for telling me about this, i will definitely try this. although it is not easy for me but I have learnt lot from your blogs

  15. M4X1N3 July 23, 2016 at 5:53 am #

    hi brian, when I try to edit inside the hard drive (as you would for any personal drive). Error says “You need permission to perform this action”.
    How can I change any settings so I can use it, as if it was physically connected to my PComputer ?

  16. Doug Springall October 28, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    I tried my thumb drive in my Netgear router , I noticed that the drive was getting hot so I took it out in view of the potential risk of fire , why would this drive get hot?

  17. PGWolfe November 16, 2016 at 6:37 am #

    I have the new AT&T router 5268ACFXN. After typing in the IP address of the router I cannot find storage or file sharing settings as described above. Can anyone help?

Leave a Reply