How to Connect External Hard Disk to Home Network over WiFi without PC?

Last Updated: June 21, 2018
wi-fi hd router

This power backup and built-in WiFi allow to communicate and transfer files even when you travel. These portable Hard Disks can communicate with mobile phones, tablets, and WiFi-enabled cameras and laptops directly with the built-in Wi-Fi on the hard drive.Do you know that you can attach any External Hard Disk into the home router and use as a part of Home Network? The Hard Disk is getting cheaper. You can get a decent brand Hard disk for under 100 bucks with storage capacity in terabytes. Hard disk manufacturers are bringing more features to connect storage drive direct to home network without any difficulty. Earlier days, we depended on a dedicated PC to connect external Hard Disk to share for other users. Unfortunately, if you want to use this HD connected to PC, the system should up and run 24/7, and not reliable.

There are two smart solutions to overcome this problem and keep external HD connected on Home Network 24/7. The first one is to depend on NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices. The NAS devices have a built-in network card and bit expensive, but very reliable solution. The second low-cost solution is to buy a WiFi router with a USB port. This USB port can be used to connect the External Hard Disk and share to the home network.

Solution 1: NAS Enabled External Hard Disks (WiFi and Wired)

NAS (Network Attached Storage) based External Hard Disks are coming with built-in WiFi or Ethernet Port. These NAS Drives can directly connect to the existing WiFi or Wired Network. Typically, the WiFi-based Hard Drives are portable drives, and Ethernet-based are large external hard disks.

1, WiFi Hard Disks

These Wi-Fi based NAS drives are the best bet for the Photography professionals who instantly want to transfer the pictures to External Hard Disks. The WiFi-based drives can generate its WiFi network and communicate directly to the nearby devices. To work on outdoor, these Hard Disks are built with extra power source backup.

hd wireless

This power backup and built-in WiFi allow to communicate and transfer files even when you travel. These portable Hard Disks can communicate with mobile phones, tablets, and WiFi-enabled cameras and laptops directly with the built-in Wi-Fi on the hard drive.

2, Hard Disks with Ethernet Port

For High Capacity External Hard Disks, there has built-in NIC (Network Interface Card) on the back panel. These Hard Disks have an RJ-45 jack and can connect to the Home Router with an ethernet cable.

Best NAS Based Hard Disks

When you select wireless portable hard disks, you have to be careful in certain features that include storage size, supporting wireless standards, file formats supported, apps support to communicate mobile devices, battery life, price, etc.

Related: Best NAS Devices for Home Network to Access Remotely

1, Seagate STCK1000100 (Portable Wireless Hard Drive)

Key features: Wireless Connectivity | Wirelessly streams favorite digital media | Synchronizes with Dropbox and Google Drive | Streams to three devices | Support DLNA devices, Samsung Smart TVs, and AirPlay. | Device Format: NTFS | Smartphone, and PC Browser Support | Battery backup: 10 hours | Buy from Amazon

Seagate 1TB Portable Hard Drive with Built-in WiFI will work as plug and play with your devices. You can use this built-in WiFi Hard Drive to stream the media directly to the devices like iPhones, Android or laptops. In addition to this, with built-in WiFi, these hard disks can sync with your cloud drives for an additional backup copy. This drive can connect three devices simultaneously and stream into three devices same time. This WiFi Hard Drive offers 10 hours of battery backup and support to browse through Smartphone and PC  browsers.

2, Western Digital WDBCTL0040HWT (Cloud Personal NAS Hard Disk)

Key features: Ethernet (Wired) Connectivity | Streams favorite digital media | Support DLNA devices, Samsung Smart TVs, and AirPlay. | Device Format Support: Mac/PC | Buy from Amazon

This external hard disc can connect via the ethernet port on the home router. This can also be used as a local cloud network at your home. You can use this Cloud Based drive to backup data from both Mac and Windows. This drive is ideal for Mac Time Machine backup and no need to connect directly to Mac. Once you connect this HD to Home Router Network, you can access this Hard Disk from the same WiFi Network. When you travel outside, you can access data from this drive with an internet connection.

Solution 2: WiFi Routers with USB Ports to Connect External Hard Disk

For those who are looking for a home based network Hard Drive Storage for home, the best solution is a USB ported WiFi Router. Modern WiFi Routers are coming with one or two external USB ports with regular ethernet ports.

You can connect any USB Storage devices to this USB port and make access to the entire home network. The drives will be instantly accessible on the home network, once you connect external Hard drives to this Router USB port. Typically, you can access data files from any computer that connected to the same WiFi network. You can stream multimedia files to the TV that stored in this external HD. With an internet connection, you can access this external drive connect from office or different network while you travel.

router-usb-ports

To access the External HDs connected on Routers, you can use the View Network Computers and Devices Utility in Windows or File Explorer in MAC. These built-in PC tools let you access the Hard drive. You can read, write and share all the files on this drive like other external Har drive files. In addition to this, there are options to secure the hard drive data connected to the network in Folder or Partition or Disk level with passwords.

Related: 7 Best WiFi Mesh Routers to Ensure Maximum WiFi Range

Best WiFi Routers with USB Ports

WiFi routers are coming with one or two USB ports depends on the model and price. we listed a couple best WiFi routers with a USB port.

1, TP-Link Archer (Dual USB NAS Router)

Key features: Dual USB Ports with NAS | Dual Band Gigabit Router |1.75Gbps Bandwith | Supports 802.11ac | WPA Encryption | Buy from Amazon

2, Linksys N900 (USB NAS Router)

Key features: Single USB Port with NAS Dual Band Gigabit Router | Home Cloud for Media | Supports 802.11ac | WPA Encryption | Buy from Amazon

3, Western Digital WDBLWE0080JCH (RAID External Hard Drive with USB 3.0)

Key features: Connectivity: USB 3.0 | 2-Bay includes 2 x 4TB HDD | Ultra-fast | Integrated backup software | Cloud backup with Dropbox | System-level backup | Hardware encrypted RAID | Buy from Amazon

Those who want to connect the external hard disk via USB port on your router to use as a network Connected backup drive, Western Digital is offering 8TB capacity HD with USB 3 connection. This Duo Desktop RAID External Hard Drive is coming with complete backup solutions such as integrated backup software, cloud backup with Dropbox and System-level backup.

Solution 3: Flash Memory Backup for Smartphones

After the evolution of smartphones with the camera, hundreds of photos are being taken using high-end smartphones. These media files demand more storage space, and all these storage spaces are getting filled with smartphone digital photos. There is a risk involved if you are not back up these media files from your smartphone. It is better to connect your iPhone or Android Phone to external hard disk and backup all your photos and videos to an external hard drive.

Related: Best 4 Hardware Solutions to Extend Wi-Fi Network

If you don’t want to spend money on an External hard drive, you can try HooToo iPhone Flash Memory 64GB on Amazon. For Android users, there is Samsung 64GB Flash Drive from Amazon available for a low price, under $30.00. This USB Flash Memory Devices can work just like External Hard Disk for iDevices like iPhone, iPad or iPod. For more backup drives for smartphone users, refer for Android Backup Drives and iPhone Backup Drives.

Connect External Hard Disk to Home Network

Both of the above solutions NAS and USB-Router have pros and cons based on their purpose and use. The USB-enabled routers are more flexible to use. You can connect any USB hard disks to this router; there is no additional software or firmware required on the existing external hard drives. RJ45 NAS connection is a permanent solution, and ideal for fast data transfer and no dedicated routers are necessary. However, the hard disk might be a little bit expensive with RJ45 port. WiFi enabled portable hard drives are an excellent choice if you want to communicate with a range of media files with multiple gadgets and devices. If you want a good storage device in your home with WiFi access into it, then USB based routers are the best bet.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Steve,

    I rely on a USB SSD network drive plugged into my AirPort Extreme router as a key component of my home wifi network. Someday I will need to replace my AirPort Extreme with another brand’s router or a mesh system. Do any of the mesh systems, like Netgear’s Orbi RBK50, support USB network drives?

  2. I use a Windows PC and my wife uses a Mac. Back in 2012 I went to Best Buy and bought an early Western Digital Book home network drive (exact model forgotten!) for the hoped for purpose of keeping one shared collection of family digital photos (as opposed to each of us using separate programs on each computer, separately managed with platform-specific software (iPhoto for wife’s Mac, Windows Picture Manager for my PC.) I got the device up and running and accessible from both machines, but it was always clunky and confusing to operate, and had to run 24×7 even if either of us only accessed it once every month or two to upload new photos. File retrieval and transfer with that drive via Ethernet to/from either machine was for some unknown reason infuriatingly slow – it was, frankly, unusable. After many months and countless hours of trying to get it into a usable status, I finally took it out into my garage one day and very gratifyingly beat it into smithereens with a sledgehammer! I’m pleased to learn from the above posts that there may be better solutions on the market now – thanks to all for posting your thoughts.

    • Thank you for your time spent to share your experience with our readers. I totally agree with your experience in the past and we had a similar experience. Fortunately, the technology improved a lot, and things are better now. We have been using the cloud-based drives for a while to backup data and quite happy with it. Still, you can’t get the same speed of USB based Hard Drive with these NAS drives. But you will be happy with the wireless experience. And also, the modern HDs’ firmware is programmed to sleep/idle mode when not in use.

  3. Hi, sharing a windows HDD with 1 TB works, I see it from android phone. But I don’t see my 5 TB HDDs.
    How can I get this to work ?

  4. Wow. It’s really new information for me. I will try these steps in my Toshiba portable hard disk. Hope so, It will work.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.