External HD with Ethernet & USB file access?
April 9, 2014 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I want to read/write files on an external HD via both USB and over the network.

The HD will be connected to my WDTV via USB, for playing movies that I've downloaded. I want to transfer files from my PC to the HD over the network. I do NOT want the HDTV to access files over the network, because a) I've tried it and it's terribly unreliable, and b) it doesn't work for high bit-rate, high resolution files.

The problem I've found is that products such as the WD My Cloud provide network file access, but the USB port is to host daisy-chained additional drives. You cannot read/write files via USB.

Is there reasonably priced, turnkey product that does what I want?
posted by wutangclan to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ive discovered that you can enable external HDs directly connected to WDTV's via USB be shares on your network. Added bonus is that your WDTV could be turned 'off' and it will continue to share the drives on your network in low power mode.

So you can transfer your files to those drives so WDTV can play them locally rather over the LAN/WIFI

Having your WDTV hard wired to the network is an added bonus. I do know that the different models of WDTV's have Gig vs 100Mb network ports, and some even have WIFI built in, additionally, some of the older WDTV wont recognize drives larger HD sizes. (over 2TB), so make sure your WDTV model can support your desired setup.
posted by edman at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2014

Ive discovered that you can enable external HDs directly connected to WDTV's via USB be shares on your network.

Whoah...what??? Can you point me to some instructions on how to do this? That would certainly be the ideal solution!
posted by wutangclan at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2014

You jogged my memory that it was kind of a pain to get it to work, several tweaks to the windows firewall/network settings were required to 'see' the wdtv shares on the network. http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1581431 shows some info along with http://wdtvforum.com/main/index.php?topic=2351.0 this. Trying to recall if there was a setting specifically to 'allow' shares directly on the wdtv. I will poke around on the device tonight.
posted by edman at 5:00 PM on April 9, 2014

edman, I dunno if I'm misreading the forum threads you've referenced, but they seem to address accessing Windows shares from the WDTV, not sharing the drive connected to the WDTV via USB. Appreciate the tip, but do you have any further info on this? It would be wonderful if I can get the solution you're suggestion to work!!
posted by wutangclan at 4:41 PM on April 10, 2014

This got me thinking. It does seem at face value like something that should be possible. But unfortunately, I don't think you're going to be able to do this with your WDTV (unless it *IS* actually capable of sharing it's storage out to the network, as suggested by wutangclan).

A USB connection is an initiator-target or master-slave type relationship. So your WDTV is the initiator/master, and the USB drive is the target/slave. To be able to access your USB drive over the network, something else needs to be the master/initiator for that access (assuming the WDTV can't do it), and a simple USB drive can't be a slave to two masters.

I looked for NAS units that could share via both the network (for your PC) and USB (for the WDTV), but I couldn't find any.

If your WDTV can't share out the USB storage over the network, you'd probably need to replace it with something that can, like an actual Media PC with the USB drive shared out to the network. I use an old-ish Mac Mini for this.
posted by Diag at 4:23 AM on April 11, 2014

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