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Windows 7 - How to Add a Network Storage Device to Windows Explorer

If you have multiple computers in your home connected to a network, it's very straightforward with Windows 7 to access files over the network. Likewise, if you have a network hard drive connected to your router, you can access it over the network just as you would a hard drive inside your computer. You can add any network storage device or hard drive on a networked computer to Windows Explorer, enabling you to access the drive in the same way as you access the drive in your computer. The computer that the drive belongs to will need to be turned on and logged in to Windows, however.

Follow these steps to add a network storage location to Windows Explorer. The following assumes that you already have a network set up with all computers and any other devices connected to a working router.

1 - Enable File Sharing on the Remote Computer

Before you can access files on a remote computer, you're first going to need to enable file sharing on it. Open the control panel and click on "Choose homegroup and sharing options" in the "Network and Internet" section. Click on the "Advanced sharing settings" link at the bottom of the page. Turn on "Network discovery," "File and printer sharing" and "Public folder sharing." Click "Save Changes" to confirm.
2 - Adding a Network Drive

Return to your main computer and open Windows Explorer. Simply click on "Computer" in the start menu. Here you'll have a list of all of the storage devices on your computer. Right-click anywhere in the blank area and select "Add network location." The "Add Network Location Wizard" will appear. Click "Next" to continue. Click "Choose a custom network location" and click "Next" again.

In the next window, you can either specify an Internet address or a network device. To choose your networked storage device, click "Browse." A window will appear allowing you to browse through all available folders on the network. Arranged in a hierarchal structure, you can view a list of storage devices and computers connected to the network. Select the folder or entire computer that you want to map the network drive to and click "OK." Note that you'll only be able to see files and folders for which sharing is enabled. This is the case with the Public Documents folder by default (assuming you followed Step 1 correctly). Click "Next" again to continue. Type in a name for the network location. Click "Finish" to confirm. The storage device should now appear in the Computer section of Windows Explorer.


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