A properly configured computer can share the contents of an external hard drive with other computers on the network. Computers can share anything that is assigned a drive letter -- hard drives, disc drives and memory card readers -- across a network. The practice of sharing an external hard drive through a network can be used to access information on the hard drive with a computer that does not support the external drive's connection type. For example, the drive could be an eSATA drive and you could access it on a computer without eSATA by sharing it through a computer with eSATA.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Router or network hub
Plug the external hard drive into the computer you want to use to share it.
Connect all computers to the router or network hub by physically plugging in an Ethernet cable or by connecting over Wi-Fi. This includes the computer that will be sharing the external hard drive and the computers that will be accessing the external hard drive.
Create a "Homegroup" for the computers to interface through on one of the computers by clicking on the "Start" button, the "Control Panel" option, the "Network and Internet" section and the "Homegroup" option on the new window.
Click on the "Share with other home computers running Windows 7" page, select "Create a HomeGroup" and follow the onscreen instructions.
Click on the "HomeGroup Settings" option from the "Network and Internet" section of the "Control Panel" window and choose the "Change advanced sharing settings" option.
Check the dial next to "Turn on file and printer sharing" underneath the "File and printer sharing" heading and click "Save changes."
Connect to the other computers to the network by turning them on and loading Windows then choose the "Home Network" option from the prompt window.
Open Windows Explorer and click on the "Computer" tree.
Right-click on the external hard drive's icon and select "properties."
Click the "Sharing" option.
Click on the "Advanced Sharing" option and check the box next to "Share this folder."
Open the "Permissions" menu by clicking on the "Permissions" button.
Highlight the "Everyone" group, check the "Allow" box next to "Read" and click "OK" to share the drive.
Access the drive from the other computers by opening Windows Explorer, clicking on the "Network" tree, double-clicking on the icon for the computer to which the drive is connected and open the folder for the external hard drive -- it usually has the drive's assigned letter.
Tips and warnings
- You may need to repeat steps 9 through 13 to share protected folders on the hard drive.
- Sharing an external hard drive without restrictions on a public network can create security risks. If you are sharing over a network with people you don't trust, you can set up password protection in the Homegroup options.
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