How to Network Your External Hard Drives

By Contributing Writer

External hard drives can be used as backup or regular hard drives depending on your needs. Being able to use them from all the computers on the network will allow you to enable periodic backup from all the computers to a centralized location. You can also use it to have all your media files, such as video, music and photos accessible for everyone. If your external hard drive enclosure does not have a network connection, you need to either purchase a new enclosure or share the hard drive from your operating system.

Things You'll Need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Network-enabled external hard drive case

New Case

Step 1

Purchase a new enclosure with a network port. Make sure to choose an enclosure compatible with the size of your hard drive (3.5-inch or 2.5-inch) and connection type (PATA or SATA).

Step 2

Disconnect the power cord of the external hard drive you are currently using. Open the enclosure using a small screwdriver. Once open, remove the screws that secure the hard drive in place.

Step 3

Disconnect the hard drive from the power and SATA or PATA cable inside the enclosure. Open the new enclosure and connect the hard drive to the power and SATA or PATA cable.

Step 4

Secure the hard drive with screws and close the enclosure. Plug the external hard drive into the power and network. Follow the manufacturer’s manual to connect to the hard drive from the computers on the network.

Sharing folder

Step 1

Connect the hard drive to the computer that stays on longest during the day. If the computer is turned off, the hard drive will not be accessible.

Step 2

Check your operating system manual to share the hard drive on the network. If you wish, you can set up credentials to only allow access to certain persons.

Step 3

On the other computers on the network, use the network discovery tool to find the shared hard drive.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some external drives have additional functions such as playing video files directly to a TV, setting up a music server or downloading off the Internet when not in use.
  • Cheap external cases with network connection are generally slower than a shared hard drive.

References & Resources