How to Convert a USB External Drive Into a NAS Drive

Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives are large storage devices that enable multiple users to transfer and archive documents and data. NAS drives connect to a router and include a utility to specify how users can access the drive and folders. USB external drives can serve as NAS drives if they are connected to a multifunction router with a USB port such as the AirPort Extreme base station. Alternatively, you can use a NAS adaptor with software to convert a USB external storage device to a network router because it includes both USB and Ethernet ports.

Connect the USB external drive to the USB port of the AirPort Extreme base station and plug the power cord for the external drive into an outlet.

Launch the AirPort Utility application located in the AirPort folder under "Programs" in the Start menu (Windows) or in the Utilities subfolder in the Applications folder (Mac).

Select the base station from the left-hand frame in the AirPort Utility window and click the "Manual Setup" button.

Click the "Disks" icon in the Disk Utility toolbar and click "File Sharing."

Select how the network users will access the drive by selecting "With a password" and specifying a password, "With base station password," or "With accounts" and selecting which users can access the drive.

Click the "Update" button, wait for the base station to reset, and then quit the AirPort Utility application.

Access the network drive by selecting "My Network Places" in the Start menu (Windows) or "Connect to Server" under "Go" in the Finder menu (Mac) and logging into the network.

Connect the USB cable of the external drive to the USB port of the NAS adaptor, such as the Addonics NAS Adapter.

Insert one end of the Ethernet cable into the Ethernet port on the adaptor and insert the other end of the cable into the Ethernet port of the router.

Insert the CD-ROM containing the NAS adaptor software into the computer's disk drive and copy the utility application such as "SD Utility" to the "Programs" folder.

Launch the utility from step 3 from the Programs folder to set up the drive for network access.

Click the "Connect" button and type the default administrator access info (such as "admin" for the user name and "admin" for the password for the SD Utility) before clicking the "OK" button.

Click the "Add" button to add users to access the network drive. Consider setting other options on the utility such as network time and changing the administrator's password.

Close the application and access the drive by selecting "My Network Places" (Windows) or "Connect to Server" (Mac). Type the assigned user name and password to access the network and drive.


Add current user names and passwords in the NAS adaptor utility to streamline each user's access to the network.

Things You'll Need

  • AirPort Extreme base station (first method only)
  • USB cable
  • NAS adaptor and software (second method only)
  • Ethernet cable (second method only)
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About the Author

Regina Edwards has been a freelance writer since 1990. She has penned video scripts, instructional manuals, white papers and abstracts. She has also ghostwritten diabetes journals. Edwards is a scuba instructor and Usui and Karuna Reiki teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Saint Joseph's University.