How do I turn a USB 2.0 external drive into a network drive?
October 16, 2010 1:53 PM   Subscribe

How do I create (not mount) network drives in OS X?

Just moved into a new house and I'm setting up my home network. I have the usual cable modem to wireless router setup; the wrinkle is that I have three USB 2.0 external harddrives I'd like to each make into a network drive, i.e., mountable and read/writeable by the two Macs that will use the network. The router has four ethernet ports available and the drives are currently connected to one Mac using a four-port USB 2.0 hub. My google-fu and ancient networking (OS 8.0) skills have failed! I have a five year-old MacBook (10.4) that I can contribute to the cause to act as a server. Thanks for any help!
posted by docgonzo to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
System Preferences -> Sharing -> Check "File Sharing"

Once turned on, all volumes are shared by default.

This is for 10.6, 10.4 may have separate options for AFP and SMB. If so, check the one you want - or both.
posted by Mwongozi at 2:00 PM on October 16, 2010

In OS 8, you're probably familiar with the notion of "share points" — resources you share from the file sharing control panel, which can be anywhere on the file system. OS X hides this away with Personal File Sharing under pre-OS X 10.5 systems, because there are NetInfo and other UNIX-y under-the-hood settings required.

For OS X 10.4 and earlier, a third-party developer makes it much easier to set up with Sharepoints, a free solution. Another option is buying an older copy of Mac OS X Server from eBay or similar, which provides similar functionality.

Also make sure your MacBook has USB 2.0 ports, if you want the best performance. Pushing data over the network through a USB 1.1 bottleneck will be painful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:01 PM on October 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, Mwongozi. I did that, and connected to the server, and none of the drives were visible.
posted by docgonzo at 2:14 PM on October 16, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, Blazecock... that's helpful. I just realised all three disks are formatted MS-DOS; maybe that's the root of my troubles? I am going to re-format into OS X Extended.
posted by docgonzo at 2:52 PM on October 16, 2010

I would format as "HFS+ (Journaled)", definitely. It will run faster than FAT32 ("MS-DOS"), you'll get large file (> 2 GB) and long filename support, and journaling is nice when that random power outage happens.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:16 PM on October 16, 2010

Open a finder window. Select the volume under "Devices" on the left. Cmd-I. Tick the box for "Shared Folder". All done.
posted by pompomtom at 1:20 AM on October 17, 2010

(sorry, I'm an idiot who didn't think about applicability for 10.4 - hey, maybe it'll work...)
posted by pompomtom at 1:23 AM on October 17, 2010

Just to clarify: only one computer can "mount" a drive. (Mostly.) Mounting is the software version of "plugging in". Once the operating system mounts a drive/volume, then its files are available. Once the files are available, then those files are able to be shared to other computers. Other computers don't mount shares, they connect to them.

Make sure your stuff is backed up before you reformat...

Shouldn't OSx be able to share Fat32 drives? I know it might not be optimal, but it should be possible. What protocol is he trying to use to share these drives? Samba? NFS?

What docgonzo needs to do is:

1- Make sure the contents of the drive(s) are visible on the computer it is attached to first.
2- Create the share.
3- Figure out how to connect to it.
posted by gjc at 8:15 AM on October 17, 2010

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