Newbie question: Easiest way to have a have an external hard drive shared as a storage devie

Associate
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5 Jul 2019
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Hi there,

I am fairly new to hardware and networking, but fairy computer literate.

I am wanting to set up a simple network that will allow people in my house to save to an external hard drive.

We currently have the following in the house:

- 2 PCs
- 2 Laptops

What I would like to do is have an external hard drive connected that we can save files to and have a few questions:

- What would be the best process in achieving this?
- The hard drive is a USB so would the PC/laptop that its connected to need to be powered on all the time?
- What other hardware/software would I need?

Any advice and suggestions would be great, thanks!
 
Soldato
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A network attached storage (NAS) device would seem most sensible. While you can attach a USB hard drive to one PC and just share it, it would require the PC to be on for the other to also access it. (Although some routers can let you attach a USB hard disk and share it out to your networked PCs). Whichever route you go, you won’t need any additional software unless you build your own NAS and choose an OS that isn’t free. Make sure you also work out how you’ll back up that NAS since you’ll come to rely on it.

Also depending on your use case you may find shared cloud storage is more appropriate.
 
Soldato
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You can either share it from one of the PC's/laptops that is on, plug it into the router if it supports sharing storage or use something like a NAS, this could even be done with something as simple as a Pi.
 
Associate
OP
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Thanks for the reply.

A NAS sounds like the thing I am looking for.

I currently use cloud storage, but wanted to actually implement something myself by "doing".

In a NAS, where would the storage device connect to other than the router, or is that the only option without having one computer powered on all the time?
 
Soldato
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Sorry, I didn't see @Avalon's reply!
I've just set up a RPi 4 8GB with OpenMediaVault and a 1TB Samsung QVO SSD connected to the Pi with a USB 3.0 to SATA adapter. Finally got it working after the original USB 3.0 to SATA adapter caused me problems. For a basic NAS it's more than good enough for me. :)
 
Man of Honour
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There are various devices like the Ravpower Filehub (don't buy them at £150 or whatever the first hits on Google are - they are like £30-40 devices) you can use for simple setups as well - though a router which supports similar functionality is probably the simplest setup though they aren't always the best for performance/compatibility and/or can have some silly limitations.
 
Associate
OP
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You can either share it from one of the PC's/laptops that is on, plug it into the router if it supports sharing storage or use something like a NAS, this could even be done with something as simple as a Pi.

Hi,

This may sound like a stupid question, but can the external hard drive be plugged into something else that has power an supports a USB? I'm wondering If I an simply plug it into a USB plug? I'm guessing this won't work because there is no wifi on the plug.
 
Soldato
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Hi,

This may sound like a stupid question, but can the external hard drive be plugged into something else that has power an supports a USB? I'm wondering If I an simply plug it into a USB plug? I'm guessing this won't work because there is no wifi on the plug.
No, like you say the drive would only be getting power and no network. You need a device (pc/pi etc) to host that drive on usb and share it on the network.
 
Soldato
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I see, thanks for confirming.

Is there a Pi you would recommend?

For the cost involved, a 2GB Pi4 is probably the best bet new, used a 3B+ is preferable for technical reasons (they stopped the USB and network sharing bandwidth). Remember if you go Pi4 that they use micro HDMI and the PSU needs to be decent quality, that ancient 0.5amp spare phone charger you have in your draw isn’t going to cut it here.
 
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