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The Ultimate Guide To Sharing USB Drives Over Network

Editorial Team Editorial Team
Jul 4, 2022

A 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.

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USB Network Gate

There are several simple ways to connect an external drive to a network:

  • The first one is sharing a hard drive with the help of USB Network Gate.
  • If your hard drive supports network connectivity or you can connect it to the router via a USB port, you can do that instead.

In this article, we will cover both of these ways of sharing USB drives in detail, as well as some additional instructions on how to share files and folders on Windows 10/11 and Mac computers.

Software method for sharing USB drives over the network

Electronic Team, Inc. offers a convenient solution to this problem - USB Network Gate, a software application that enables you to share USB storage devices over the network with other computers.

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These are the main advantages offered by the app:

  1. 1
    Remote access to USB devices regardless of their physical location.
  2. 2
    Work with virtual desktops and RDP.
  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
    Cross-platform solution – works with Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, and Raspberry.
  6. 6
    No additional devices are required (except for your computer).

How to share the external drive over the network

There are not many actions required to share a USB drive. You can watch these handy video guide or follow the text instructions below:

 video guide
Download and install the app to a computer to which a USB drive is to be connected (server), and all the machines (clients) that will connect to the remote storage device.
Launch USB Network Gate on the server, and share a hard drive over the network by clicking Share next to it.
Start USB Network Gate on the client, and click Connect next to the shared USB drive.

That’s all that is required to share an external drive with other computers. After that, you will be able to transfer files as if the device was connected physically to a computer and not via the network.

Share a USB hard drive with the help of a router (over Wi-Fi)

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.

How to share a USB storage device over Wi-Fi with the help of a router:

  1. 1
    First locate it in the router settings – open a browser on a computer connected to a Wi-Fi network, and type in the router’s IP address, it usually has a format like
  2. 2
    Login using your credentials, go to Settings and find the “Drive storage” tab. 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 the “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.
share usb drive over wifi

This solution is quite convenient and requires no cables or additional hardware, but it is limited by the network availability, unlike Electronic Team, Inc.'s software solution that allows you to share external hard drives over Ethernet, Internet, and other networks. Connecting USB wirelessly is not restricted to the area covered by a Wi-Fi signal.

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How to map a network drive in Windows 11

Understanding how to add a network drive to Windows 11 involves mapping network drives from the Windows File Explorer without needing to search for it, or enter the specific network address each time.

Mapping a drive in Windows 11 is quite a straightforward process:

  1. From either the Start menu or the taskbar, open the File Explorer (note: you can also hit the Windows logo key+E).

  2. Choose This PC from the left-hand navigation pane.

  3. Select See more > Map network drive in the top-right corner. map network drive windows 11
  4. Choose the device from within the Drives list.

  5. Enter the path of the folder/computer into the Folder box (or users can select the Browse option to search for the folder/computer). map network folder windows 11

    Note: Choose “Reconnect at sign-in” if you’d like to connect each time you sign in to the PC.

  6. Finally, hit Finish.

If users can't connect to network drives or folders, the remote PC might be turned off.

Another reason could be that the user lacks adequate permissions to make such connection configurations. If that is the case, contact your network administrator for further assistance.

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How to 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.
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How to share a folder in Windows 10 in the local network

For users operating Windows 10, certain file and folder network sharing features have changed. This includes the elimination of HomeGroup — which means that the file sharing process in Windows 10 has changed.

Learn how to share files between computers in Windows 10 with just a few steps:

  1. Open File Explorer and select a required file.

  2. Once you’ve chosen a file, click the Share tab at the top of File Explorer.

  3. Select Specific people from within the newly opened Share tab. share files with specific people windows 10

Alternatively, a user can right-click a file/folder to open the context menu and select Give access to > Specific people.

If the user chooses multiple files/folders at once to share them on the network in Windows 10, said files/folders will all get shared.

How to share external hard drive on network Mac

Below, we’ll lay out step-by-step instructions to show you how to share an external drive between Mac and PC. Thankfully, mapping drives on a macOS computer to all of your other devices is possible with just a few easy steps.

Mapping network drives on macOS (one-time)

Sharing an external hard drive on Macs is a quite simple process that allows you to manage files and folders from any device.

connect network drive mac

Users can access the network drives by following three easy steps — as long as the user doesn’t mind repeating said steps if the connection drops, the Mac is rebooted, or the device disconnects.

  1. Open Finder and press Cmd+K. This opens the Connect to Server window (users can also hit Go > Connect to Server).
  2. Type the path of the network drive you’d like to map and hit Connect.
  3. Hit OK after typing your username and password to mount the network drive.

And that’s it! Now you can easily access the drive from the desktop or the Finder sidebar.

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How to automatically connect to a network drive on Mac

Some users may need access to a server in their office that’s connected to a network drive. The user may also want their team to have access to this drive for collaborative and sharing purposes.

To keep a Mac continuously connected to a network drive (regardless of whether you restart the machine), start with the three steps outlined above, and then follow these additional instructions:

  1. Navigate to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups.

  2. Choose Login Items.

  3. Click the + button to add new items. add network drive to login items mac
  4. Locate the network drive and hit Add.

And just like that, now you know how to map the network drive on macOS to remain connected even after a reboot. It should be noted that network drives won't connect automatically if a different Wi-Fi network is used.

USB Network Gate

Redirect USB devices over network
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License price starts at $159.95
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