How to Connect an External Hard Drive to a Network

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.


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.

Things You'll Need

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

Brent Watkins works as a writer, producer and production technologist for film and television. He began writing for "Church & Worship Technology" magazine in 2002. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Watkins is passionate about digital media and emerging production technologies. A graduate of the University of Iowa, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications and theatrical arts.