How to Connect an External Hard Drive to a Network

Written by brent watkins
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How to Connect an External Hard Drive to a Network
Use a USB NAS adaptor to connect your external drive directly to the network. (network switch hosting cables image by willem169 from

Connecting an external hard drive to a computer network can be a money-saving option for network data storage. A network drive allows multiple computers to access the hard drive without the drive having to be connected to any particular computer. This kind of device is called a "NAS," which stands for "network attached storage." A NAS device is the perfect backup solution for network-connected computers. You can convert an existing USB external drive into a NAS using a USB NAS adaptor.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • External hard drive with USB interface
  • USB NAS adaptor
  • USB cable
  • CAT-5 cable

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  1. 1

    Plug in the 5-volt power adaptor to a wall outlet, and plug the DC connector to the power jack for the USB NAS adaptor.

  2. 2

    Plug the USB cable from the external hard drive into the NAS adaptor.

  3. 3

    Plug an Ethernet cable into the network port of the USB NAS adaptor, and plug the other end into the network router, hub or switch.

  4. 4

    Open your web browser and enter the IP address, username and password supplied with the USB NAS adaptor.

  5. 5

    Enter the name you want to use to identify the external drive on the network in the "Host Name" field.

  6. 6

    Enter the workgroup name used by the network in the "Group Name" field to join the external drive to a workgroup.

  7. 7

    Connect to the device by using the "Network" shortcut in the Windows computer file browser. Double-click on the network device name entered in Step 5.

Tips and warnings

  • Most USB NAS adaptors can also function as a universal plug and play (uPnP) audio/video server. This feature allows you to share music, video and picture files stored on the NAS hard drive with any other computer or uPnP gaming console on the network.
  • Security options for USB NAS adaptors are limited. Make sure the Internet connection of your network is protected by a firewall.

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