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Connecing One External HDD, to 3 Computers

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September 24, 2010 11:35:48 PM

Hi, to keep a long story short, is it possible to connect one single (1.5TB) external HDD, to 3 computers at the same time? So for example, 3 computers, 3 USB ports to the external box, so when all 3 machines are on, the HDD will apear in My Computer for all machines and each machine can read/write at the same time, etc.

Possible?
September 25, 2010 1:06:28 PM

Hi, I highly doubt that. It would be possible to have a box that switches between computers but simultaneously I don't think that such a device exists.
September 25, 2010 5:50:17 PM

noble said:
Hi, I highly doubt that. It would be possible to have a box that switches between computers but simultaneously I don't think that such a device exists.


Would be so awesome if it did though, right? Damn, I'm a genius :D 
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a c 415 G Storage
September 25, 2010 6:26:44 PM

The USB protocol does not allow one device to be connected to multiple hosts. You could probably find a combination of USB hubs and cables that would let you physically connect it all together, but it wouldn't actually work.

To do what you're looking for you'd have to buy an external drive that comes in a "NAS" (Network Attached Storage) package. This type of drive has an Ethernet connection and plugs into your network. It acts like a mini file server that allows multiple computers to connect and access files on the drive.
September 25, 2010 8:32:23 PM

sminlal said:
The USB protocol does not allow one device to be connected to multiple hosts. You could probably find a combination of USB hubs and cables that would let you physically connect it all together, but it wouldn't actually work.

To do what you're looking for you'd have to buy an external drive that comes in a "NAS" (Network Attached Storage) package. This type of drive has an Ethernet connection and plugs into your network. It acts like a mini file server that allows multiple computers to connect and access files on the drive.


Yup, thanks. I actually created a home made NAS, which kinda failed becuase I used an old PC and it was the size of an arm and a leg. Plus, it would randomly crash sometimes between file transfers, it was noisy, the lot! I kinda gave up on it. I was however useing an external box for one of the drives and it popped to mind to find out if it was possible to do such a thing.

The problem with NAS is, you will need to tune in the settings for every computer you connect it to, opposed to it popping up straight into My Computer.

Regarding the USB splitter... Why did you say this won't work? As in, only 1 of the machines will pick up on the HDD, etc?
a b G Storage
September 26, 2010 1:19:29 AM

Some routers have a USB port on them to connect a drive so attached systems can see it. I suspect its file locking abilities are limited. I had one, but the router part flaked out before I ever got around to testing the drive access.
Why not plug the drive into one of the machines and share it?
a c 415 G Storage
September 26, 2010 1:38:23 AM

godbrother said:
Regarding the USB splitter... Why did you say this won't work? As in, only 1 of the machines will pick up on the HDD, etc?
The issue with USB is that it's not a peer-to-peer connection. A standard USB cable has two ends on it, an "A" end that plugs into the computer and a "B" end that plugs into a device. Those ends are not interchangeable, and I'm not just talking about the ability to physically plug the connector in. The host end is the "smarts" that runs the USB protocol, the device end only responds to commands from the computer. The host issues USB packets every millisecond and it doesn't expect any other hosts to be "on the line".

The problem is that if you manage to find a combination of cables and hubs that let you physically connect the computers, you're going to have 3 hosts all thinking they have an exclusive connection to a device. They'll all be trying to send USB synch packets which will collide. The common device won't be able to sort it out and no communication will be able to take place.
September 26, 2010 10:45:06 PM

Thanks for the explaination, helped me a lot. My router actually has a USB port, but it's not a male to female type of port , its like the old school "modems" where it has a single RJ11 port and a square shaped USB port. Not quite sure if thats the proper use for it though.
!