I'm looking for a USB hub-like device that would recognize one thumb-drive on multiple PCs it's connected to.
June 30, 2008 9:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a USB hub-like device that would share one thumb-drive on multiple PCs it's connected to.

Kind of a KVM-ish idea, but with thumb drives instead of mouse/keyboard....and all at once. Does this exist? (the boss demands it!).
posted by lattiboy to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Best answer: This would be very hard to do over USB without special software. When something like a thumb drive is mounted to a computer, the computer expects to have total exclusive access to it. However, if it doesn't absolutely have to be USB, network drive sharing devices don't this limitation. A Linksys NSLU2 would fit the bill perfectly. It has a couple USB ports on it that you can plug flash drives and external hard drives into, and a network port to plug into a network. You can then access those drives from any number of computers.
posted by zsazsa at 9:47 AM on June 30, 2008

Unless I'm missing something important, why not just plug the thumb drive into one PC and mount it on the other PCs too?

I do this at home with an SD card that lives in my Eee PC, and is made available on my other computers using sshfs or ExpanDrive (SFPTDrive is the Windows equivalent) - the result is that the SD card is available on all machines as if it was directly plugged in.
posted by jack_mo at 10:01 AM on June 30, 2008

USB doesn't work that way; it's a host-client relationship, with only one of each allowed at a time. USB simply isn't capable of anything more complex. You could use a kvm to share one thumb drive with a selection of pcs, one at a time, with a dedicated keyboard to switch between pcs.

The best way to do this though is some form of cheap NAS, thats a network shared connection amongst a variety of pcs. zsazsa and jack_mo both have the right of it.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:13 AM on June 30, 2008

If you're using XP and the computers are networked, just right click the drive in My Computer and share?
posted by perpetualstroll at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2008

I have one of these and I think it is a more versatile solution than zsazsa's, though it does much of the same thing. If only because it has more USB ports I would recommend it. We use it for a couple of external harddrives and a printer, and it works very well. It has 3 more USB ports for ten more dollars, so decide if that's worth it for you.
posted by papayaninja at 8:09 PM on June 30, 2008

I second papayaninja's recommendation of the BELKIN Wireless Network USB Hub. I've been using mine for 6 months and have no complaints. In addition to sharing external HDDs and thumb-drives, it can connect to a printer, camera, scanner, etc.

It should be noted that the WIRELESS in the name is slightly misleading. It is a Network USB Hub, that you connect to your WIRELESS (or wired) ROUTER. This is so that you can connect to your USB devices wirelessly from your laptop or share devices on any network the STUPID-CRAZY-EASY way. The User Interface is simple and intuitive. You don't have to go through sharing, setting up permissions, making sure that the host/main computer is on, etc. There is very little setup involved, and the instructions are very clear (they claim 3 minutes). It even tells you how to change the settings on your firewall if you have one.

Each individual device can only be connected to one computer at a time (this is the nature of USB), but you CAN have different devices connected to different computers simultaneously. If you can deal with that then this is your only choice. (IMO)
posted by peacelover222 at 4:47 AM on July 6, 2008

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