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How to share USB external hard drive on a network

Jan 14, 2021

Common problem – you need to connect an external USB hard drive to several computers in the network (Wi-Fi/Ethernet/LAN/TCP/IP). All computers need access to the contents of the disk, but you cannot attach the device to each of them.

How to share external hard drive over network? Let us have a look at some of the solutions!

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Software solution to share USB storage over Network

Electronic Team, Inc. offers a convenient solution to this problem - USB Network Gate (aka USB over Ethernet), a software application that enables you to share USB storage over network.
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USB Network Gate

4.9 Rank based on 179+ users, Reviews(72)
Download 14-day trial, You can share only 1 local USB-device
 USB for Remote Desktop

Share external hard drive over network in just a couple of steps:

Download and install the app - on a computer to which a device is to be connected and all machines that need access to the device.
Connect a drive to the computer via USB port.
Launch USB Network Gate and share hard drive over network via its interface.

With USB Network Gate you will be able to share any USB device on Windows 10 and below, Mac, Android and Linux:

These are the main advantages offered by the app:

  1. 1
    Remote access to USB devices regardless of their physical location
  2. 2
    Work in virtual environment and RDP sessions
  3. 3
    Citrix ICA protocol support
  4. 4
    Per-user session – a USB device can be shared only with a certain user over RDP, and other users will have no access to it.
  5. 5
    Per-user isolation is a feature of USB Network Gate that allows a USB device to be isolated and thus inaccessible by other non authorized Windows users.
  6. 6
    Cross-platform solution – works with Linux, Mac, Win, Android
  7. 7
    No additional devices required

Share storage through a high-speed USB cable

You can share USB external hard drive over network with the help of a high-speed USB cable. USB 2.0 solution provides the following functionality:
  1. 1
    Share and transfer data between two computers via USB port.
  2. 2
    The speed of data transfer can be over 15 Mbps, and thanks to dual buffer the data can be transferred in both directions.
  3. 3
    Work in Mobile PC and SOHO environment.
  4. 4
    Make use of advantages offered by single chip ASIC Hi-Speed USB host to host communication and bus powered from a port.

The solution is compliant with USB specification v. 1.1 and 2.0.

Data link

Overall, USB 2.0 seems to be a good solution to share USB drive over network, but since you are limited by the cable’s length, it is unlikely you can use it for sharing data between multiple computers that are not located in proximity to each other.

How to share USB hard drive over Wi-Fi

One more way to share USB storage is to map it as a network external hard drive over Wi-Fi.
  1. 1
    First locate it in the router settings – open a browser on a computer connected to a Wi-Fi network, type in the router’s IP address, it usually has a format like
  2. 2
    Login using your credentials, go to Settings and find ‘Drive storage’ tab or section. Right-click on the drive you need and choose ‘Map network drive’ in the context menu displayed.
  3. 3
    Give your drive a name to identify it easier, and check ‘Reconnect at sign-in’ option.
  4. 4
    Once you are done with the setup, click ‘Finish’. You might have to restart your PC or laptop to see the storage drive.
Router Drive

This solution is quite convenient and requires no cables or additional hardware, but it is limited by the network availability, unlike Electronic Team, Inc. software solution – it allows you to share external hard drive over Ethernet, Internet and other networks. You are not restricted to the area covered by Wi-Fi signal.

All said and done, our take would be USB Network Gate. This seems to be the most convenient way to access remote USB external drive as it is not restricted to the network area and does not require additional equipment.

Share USB External Drive now
14-day free trial

How can you share an external hard drive over the network on Windows 10?

Share external hard drive on Windows 10

To share your external hard drive on Windows 10, take the following steps:

  1. 1
    Connect the device to your Windows computer via a USB port. Make sure this PC is always turned on.
  2. 2
    Click Start and select Computer. You should see the hard drive in the window that will open.
  3. 3
    Right-click on the device and select Share with > Advanced sharing.
  4. 4
    In the Properties window, choose the Sharing tab and click the Advanced Sharing button.
  5. 5
    Check the box Share this folder. Hit the Add button and type the name of the drive you would like to share.
  6. 6
    Click Permissions.
  7. 7
    In the invoked window select the option Everyone to make the drive available for access from any computer connected to the network.
  8. 8
    Then, check to Allow next to Full Control, Change and Read options.
  9. 9
    Finally, click Apply and then click OK to finish with the Sharing settings
  10. 10
    Click Close to exit the Advanced Sharing window.
Share USB External Drive now
14-day free trial

Connecting multiple hard drives together

There are many scenarios where you share one external hard drive among several computers, but not rare are the cases when you need to connect several hard drives together and use them on a single computer. More hard drives, for example, let you save data from being lost as you can back up the information on a second external or internal hard disk. Also, you could store more photos and music if you had additional storage devices connected to your PC.

To install several hard drives on one machine, first, you should decide on the setup you want

Basically, you have two options:

  • Connect several external hard drives to your laptop or desktop computer;
  • Install additional internal hard disk on the desktop PC.

When it comes to an external hard drive, it's enough to use a USB or Firewire connection, external hard drives are very simple to install.

As for an internal hard disk, you can set it up as a separate storage device or connect it using the RAID technology. This method requires a motherboard with RAID support and allows using several hard drives together. Also, hard disks can be configured to mirror one another to duplicate and back up data.

Here’s how to install additional hard drive using the RAID utility:

  1. 1
    Before you start, make sure your computer has space for the new installations. Also, it’s recommended that you use identical hard drives that have the same amount of hard disk space and speed. To connect a new hard drive to the motherboard, use connector cables coming with the device.
  2. 2
    Once connected, start your computer. During start-up, there will be shown the keys that need to be pressed in order to launch the RAID program (e.g. “F4”).
  3. 3
    The utility will let you configure your hard drives into one of these hard-drive arrays:

    RAID 0: With this configuration, you’ll be able to split data between several hard drives. This set up is referred to as “striping”. In this case, all hard drives can be accessed like it was one large hard drive.

    RAID 1: With this configuration, one hard drive will mirror another one so that data can be copied and saved for backup purposes.
  4. 4
    After you’ve finished with the configurations, you should exit the RAID utility and reboot your computer.
  5. 5
    Once done, you can go to the directory and see the newly-installed hard-drive combination. All hard drives will appear as a single large internal hard drive. From that point forward you can copy data and install apps to that drive.
Share USB External Drive now
14-day free trial

There are several simple ways to connect an external hard drive to Ethernet

First method:

The first one is connecting your device to a router via a USB port. All you need to do is plug the hard drive into the wall outlet and then connect the device to the router.

Second method:

If your hard drive has its own Ethernet port, you can connect the device to the network directly. Simply plug the hard drive into its power supply, connect the device to the router using an Ethernet cable, and you’re done. Now your hard drive will be available for remote connections over the network.

Third method:

Finally, if your hard drive does not support network connectivity or you are not able to connect it to the router, you can share a hard drive with the help of USB Network Gate. Just connect an external drive to your computer via USB and use USB Network Gate to remotely access your external drive.

Share USB External Drive now
14-day free trial

Connect External Hard Drive over router

If you are looking for a way to attach an external hard disk to the home router and use it as a part of your home network, here are several useful tips.

Portable hard drives can communicate with mobile phones, tablets, and WiFi-enabled laptops directly with built-in Wi-Fi support. So, you can buy a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device with a built-in network card or opt for a WiFi router with a USB port. This USB port can be used to connect the external hard disk so that it can be shared over the home network.

Top choice

USB Network Gate

  • Rank 4.9 based on 179+ users
  • Requirements: OS: Windows 7 SP1/8/8.1/10/11; Windows Server 2008 R2/2012/2012 R2/2016/2019/2022
    Architectures: x86, x64, ARM64
    . 9.25MB free space.
  • Version 10.0.2450. (18 Jan, 2022). Release notes