Many computer users have more computer peripherals than free USB ports on their computer. A USB hub solves this problem by providing multiple ports and a power source, while connecting to a single computer USB port. With a standard USB hub, the computer is still connected to the USB peripheral by cables--one running from the computer to hub, and one from hub to device. Many modern USB hubs, however, provide for remote access. There are three ways to set up remote access, depending on how far away you would like to be when accessing your files or devices.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- USB hub with Ethernet port or IP capability
- USB cables
- Ethernet cables
- Wireless modem
Buy a USB hub designed to connect to a wireless router. This will usually be a hub that comes with an Ethernet port and software that you can install on your computer to allow it to see USB devices over the network. Examples include the Belkin Network USB hub (Reference 1) and Apple Airport Extreme (Reference 2) , although the Airport Extreme has only one USB port.
Connect the hub to your wireless router using an Ethernet cable. Your computer should detect the USB hub automatically if DHCP is enabled in your network control panel. If it is not, you may need to enter in the address of the hub, which should be printed on the bottom of it or in its manual.
Install any custom software that came with the USB hub.
Check the list of devices that work with your wireless USB hub. These lists are on the manufacturers' websites. Some may not be supported, which may mean that you cannot use them, or don't get full functionality from them, without connecting them directly to your computer with a USB cable.
Attach a USB device such as a printer, and do a test print. You will now be able to access your USB devices from anywhere your home or office wireless network reaches.
Attach the USB hub to your Ethernet router using an Ethernet cable.
Open your network control panel and ensure that DHCP is enabled.
Connect a USB device to the hub and check if it appears on your desktop. If it does not, you may need to manually enter the network address for the hub, which should be printed on its label.
Connect your USB hub to a computer with a USB cable.
Install USB remote-access server software, such as "USB Over Network" (Reference 3), on the computer connected to the USB hub.
Install matching client software on any computer that you would like to use to access the USB hub. You may now connect to the devices plugged into the USB hub over any network, whether it be your home or office wireless, or remotely over the Internet. This allows you, for example, to access files at home on a USB hard drive from a hotel-room Ethernet port.
Tips and warnings
- There is unfortunately no way to access a USB hub over IP networks (the broader Internet) without it being connected to a computer. If this functionality is important, you may consider buying a cheap computer to act as the home base station.
- If you only need to remotely access the USB hub from within your local area network (LAN) or wireless network (WLAN), then a hub, router, and software is all you need.
- Be very careful to check before you buy whether your USB devices are supported by the hub and software package you are considering.
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