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.
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.
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 “\\routerip” Fore example, I would type in: \\192.168.1.1 and hit Enter.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- ASUS RT-AC87U Wireless-AC2400 Dual Band Gigabit Router which has 2.0 and 3.o ports built-in and includes the latest 802.11ac standard as well as b/g/n.
- NETGEAR AC1600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router which contains a USB 3.0 port.
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.