How to Make an External Hard Drive

Curious how to make an external hard drive? You can use old PCs or hard drive enclosures to create an external drive and use it for backup or as a network drive.

Shop for hard drive enclosures.
You can find hard drive enclosures relatively inexpensively at most computer supply stores. Hard drive enclosures hold internal hard drives, and they hook up inside the enclosure as if they were in a computer. However, the outside of the enclosure is sealed, and it connects to your computer via USB or FireWire. A hard drive enclosure is the easiest way to convert an internal hard drive to an external hard drive.

Use old PCs as file servers.
If you've got an old PC that's too slow for your primary computing needs, you don't have to scrap it. You can still set it up and connect it to your network as a network drive. However, if you do this, you must leave your old computer running or your files won't be accessible. If you want to set up your old PC as a server, here's how:

Connect your old computer to the network.
Your computer must be connected to a home network in order to use it as a file server. Either connect your computer directly to your router via Ethernet cable, or install a wireless network card in your old computer and connect to your network wirelessly.

Create a folder on the desktop to share files.
The easiest way to create a server is to create a new folder on the desktop where you intend to keep all your files. Give your folder an easy-to-remember name, like Files or Server.

Enable file sharing.
Once you've created the folder, right-click on the folder and go to Properties. Go to the Sharing tab, and click the check-box next to "Share this folder on the network." Give your folder a name, select Apply and then OK to exit the dialog box.

Figure out your IP address.
You'll need to know your computer's IP address in order to use it as a file server. Go to the Start Menu on the old computer, and click on the Run box. Type cmd and press Enter. When you get to the C:\ prompt, type ipconfig and press Enter. Write down the IP Address that the ipconfig command gives you.

Map to your new server from your computer.
From your current computer, open Windows Explorer. Select Tools from the menu bar at the top of the window, and go to Map Network Drives. Specify the drive letter that you want your server to use, and then enter the IP address you wrote down in the Folder box. Click Finish. From there, you should be able to access the drive under My Network Places, or you can create a shortcut on your desktop.

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