In this article, we are going to make use of the USB port found on the back of your router (Home Hub).
These instructions apply to Plusnet & BT Hubs. The instructions are similar for other routers that have a USB port on the back. (You will have to determine your default gateway number).
Uses For A USB Port On A Router
On the back of most modern routers, you will find a USB port. These can be used for many things such as attaching a USB printer to your home network or even plugging in a USB webcam to use as a security camera.
In this article we are going to explain how to use this port to attach a mass storage device to create NAS (Network Attached Storage).
Reasons For Using NAS
- Share Media. Load with music, films or pictures to be able to listen or watch on all network attached devices. Example: You have a collection on films that you want to be able to watch on multiple computers or TVs around the house. NAS will allow you to easily do this.
- File transfer. Let’s say you regularly transfer files & documents between different computers on your home network. Attaching NAS storage allows you to drop the files on to the shared drive. These can than be instantly accessed by any computer on your home network.
- Backup. Using NAS drives (or in this case a USB stick connected to the back of your router) is a great way to back things up. The backup can be set to run automatically or you can do this manually. There are many benefits to backing up to a drive that is not physically connected to your computer. The worst case scenario being, if your computer becomes infected with Ransomware, the attack will also hit and encrypt all physically connected drives. Leaving you without any backup at all.
USB Flash Drives Now Cheaper Than Ever
The price of USB flash drives (USB sticks) has fallen significantly in the last few years.
A 32GB USB drive can now be bought at less than £5. At the higher end, 1TB drives can be bought now at between £20 – £30. A fraction of what these things cost just a few years ago.
Instructions For Installing USB Drive To Your Router
- Take A Note Of Your Default Gateway Number
On BT & Plusnet, the default is usually 192.168.1.254 but it’s worth double checking and will differ on other hubs and routers. See notes below about obtaining this number.
- Plug In Your USB Drive
Connect USB Drive to port on your router. (The USB drive will be formatted as default to FAT32 which is fine).
- Open The “Run” dialog in Windows
To open Run, either right-click on your Start Menu and take it from there or on your keyboard press Windows Key and R at the same time.
- Enter Your Default Gateway number preceded by 2x back slashes
Press OK or hit Enter.
- Now It’s Time To “Map The Drive” (give it a letter)
Right-click on the drive. Shared Disk. Choose “Map Network Drive.”
The letter Z will probably be preselected for you. Confirm this or choose another letter if you prefer. (Keep to the back-end of the alphabet, Z, Y, X, etc. to prevent conflict with commonly connected drives that you may later physically plug in).
Repeat steps 3 -5 on 2nd, 3rd 4th ..etc. computers that you want to access this shared drive.
How To Obtain Your Default Gateway Number
Open a Command Prompt or Windows Powershell. Type and enter the following ipconfig
To open Command Prompt hold Windows Key and press R. Type & enter the letters cmd
To open Windows Powershell, simply right-click on your Start Menu flag and choose “Windows Powershell (Admin)”.
Video Version Of This Article
Here is the video version of this article, with a step-by-step guide.
Click here to visit the Computroon YouTube channel for more tips & tutorials.
Can I Use An External Hard Drive Connected To My Router’s USB?
The issues that you may encounter doing this are power and format type. A drive should be formatted to FAT32 and have it’s own power source.
If using an external hard drive, be sure to use one with it’s own power supply and wipe / format the drive using FAT32.
When purchasing an external hard drive, generally the 2.5″ are USB powered and the 3.5″ come with their own dedicated mains power supply.
The USB port on the back of your router is probably sending out 5v 0.8a. In order to power a self-powered external hard drive the ampage would need to be higher.
It is for this reason we also do not recommend trying to use the USB port on your router to charge smartphones & tablets. Those require the full 5v 2.1a.
Best option is to use a USB stick which are now available in mass storage capacity sizes.
Security. Is The Data Secure On External Storage Device Connected To My Router’s USB Port?
I recommend against storing sensitive data on any NAS Drive unless you are familiar with password protecting directories and partitions. The instructions on this site focus on storing data that will be freely available to anyone who has access to your network.
If you are sharing media files for playback on other devices around the house, this method is fine. If you are storing or backing up files with personal or financial information, this should be done over a secure drive with encryption.
The instructions on this article are ideal if you want to throw a piece of school home work from one computer in the house to another without messing around with USB sticks. Or to watch films or listen to music on different TV’s around in different rooms.
Note: If you use a NAS Drive do not assume that the data is secure because it is password protected. There are many NAS Drives on the market that allow data recovery to be carried out by factory resetting the device.
Problem Connecting Or Discovering Network Drives?
Be sure and turn on Network & File Sharing.
Click on Network from your File Explorer. If File Sharing isn’t on, you will get a message in the top bar asking you to enable it.