How do I make wired connection to a wireless network?
February 23, 2012 8:54 AM   Subscribe

How can I make a wired connection to a wireless network? I'd like to use my external hard drive wirelessly with my laptop and DLNA-enabled BluRay player - the hard drive is made to be plugged into a router and used in this way. Problem: I share internet services with another apartment in my building and I do not have access to the router, which is in the other apartment.

Should I get some kind of wireless repeater/extender and set up my own network off the primary network? This presumably could also solve the problem of keeping other people on the network from accessing the hard drive (not a major concern for me, but probably a good idea). But would this affect performance?

Or should I buy a different hard drive that can connect to the router wirelessly (i.e. has the wireless capability in the same box as the hard drive)? The hard drive I already have is brand new in original packaging and I think I'd be able to return it with minimal difficulty.

Any specific recommendations for either type of product are welcome! My laptop is a MacBook Pro, so I need something that will work with a Mac and I would like something that works with other OSs as well, since I'm not super-committed to the Mac platform and may switch/add new non-Mac machines in the not-too-distant future.

I could, presumably, run the appropriate cable out the window and into the other apartment, or ask my neighbor to host the hard drive in her apartment, but I'd rather just use the drive non-wirelessly if it comes to that.
posted by mskyle to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You could use a wireless ethernet bridge, sometimes called a wireless media adapter. Something like the Netgear WNCE2001. They're marketed for connecting ethernet-only game consoles or other ethernet only multimedia devices to wireless, and something like that should work fine for your hard drive.

note: I haven't used that particular device, it just came up first in a search
posted by helicomatic at 9:11 AM on February 23, 2012

seconding a wireless bridge.
posted by xbonesgt at 9:14 AM on February 23, 2012

You could share it off of your Mac or PC. for Mac In System Preferences, go to Sharing and on the Internet tab, click the source (Ethernet) and the way the other computer will connect (for wifi, Airport). Then click the Start button.

This'll set up a wireless connection between your Mac and the PC, and the PC will be able to surf on it via your wired Mac.

then set up the drive as a share.

it's a bit trickier in Windows unless you have both a wired connection and a wireless adapter.
posted by Gungho at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2012

Airport Extreme? These can be used like a wireless bridge to access and/or extend an existing wireless network and would connect to the other router and allow you to plug in your external hard drive to access it wirelessly.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:28 AM on February 23, 2012

Response by poster: I like this wireless bridge thing - then I could also plug in the Blu-Ray, and it would stop complaining about being connected wirelessly. Also I should clarify - I'm not interested in solutions that involve plugging the hard drive into an actual computer, since I particularly want to be able to use the hard drive when the computer is turned off.

Still welcoming any additional suggestions, either for other solutions or specific products to buy. Thanks!
posted by mskyle at 9:39 AM on February 23, 2012

Best answer: As other have already mentioned, there are two easy solutions that would allow your wired ethernet enabled hard drive to be accessed wirelessly.

1. Wireless Bridge / Media Adaptor
2. WDS-Enabled Wireless Range Extender

The disadvantage of both these solutions is that they place your hard drive directly on your neighbor's network and anyone else on that network has the potential to access it.

I suggest you find a router that is capable of connecting to a wireless network and sharing that connection with it's own private wireless network. Quite often these routers are branded as "travel" routers because they're intended to share a single connection to the hotel's wireless network amongst multiple devices.

Like the wireless bridge or range extender, such a router would give you a place to plug your ethernet hard drive in. Unlike a wireless bridge or range extender, it would connected to your own private network that is largely hidden and inaccessible from your neighbor's network.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:50 AM on February 23, 2012

I have shared landlord-provided WiFi at my apartment, and established a private wireless network by plugging a bridge (that connects to landlord's AP) into a wireless router.

I used two devices, but I believe you can get by with a single WRT capable router, though bandwidth will take a hit - which may not be an issue for most people.

I actually get higher speeds this way - closer to what the 20mbs DSL is capable of, because the bridge is positioned just so to get the best reception.
posted by unmake at 9:52 AM on February 23, 2012

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