Home Network Storage Setup with NAS and External USB Hard Drives

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Setting up a home network storage server not only provides tons of additional storage space for your important documents and media but if properly set up can also provide an additional level of security against malware and data loss.

Not too long ago setting up a network storage solution required an understanding of IP addresses, domain names and discovery tools, to name a few. Now, most solutions can be easily set up by simply plugging a NAS (Network Attach Storage device) directly into one of the network’s available Ethernet ports and switching on the device. Other network storage solutions can be easily set up by directly attaching an external hard drive or by connecting a USB hard drive directly to the router. In some cases you will need to install some software that is supplied from the manufacturer to complete the setup.

To facilitate an easy setup you can purchase a router that has a USB port for connecting an external hard drive, one such solution is the Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router. The router can be coupled with an external hard drive by plugging it directly into the USB port at the back of the router. Once that is done the hard drive should be available to all authorized devices on the network. Some storage devices are standalone solutions that can be attached to the router via an available LAN port.

Still it is a better option to purchase a dedicated NAS drive to serve as your network’s storage device. If at all possible, get a NAS drive that has data redundancy and automatic data backup, this lends itself to better data security. Here is a step-by-step guide to home network storage setup.

Connecting the Drive

  • Plug the NAS drive into one of the router’s free LAN port. If you are using an external hard drive, plug it into a compatible USB port on you router.
  • Plug the NAS into a UPS backup device so you will continue to have access to your files even if there is a power failure.
  • Switch on the drive. You should now be able to browse the network and find the drive. Once you find the it, create all the folders you need. Your network storage device may come with software that provides security and user access parameters; go ahead and install the software.

Setting up the Drive for Ease of Access

You can make it more convenient for users to access the NAS drive by mapping it (making a network folder show up as a drive letter).

  • In Windows open the “My Computer” folder. From the menu bar, click “Map Network Drive…”
  • Choose an available drive letter and browse to find the network folder on the NAS drive, select it and click “OK,” then click “Finish.”

Depending on the feature set of the NAS drive, you may be able to specify what devices and users can access the drive; what drive features to enable as well as set up e-mail alert parameters for the drive to inform you when backups are complete or errors have occurred.


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