How to Attach an External USB Hard Drive to your AirPort Extreme.
Back in 2018, Apple officially announced it was going out of the router business, discontinuing its AirPort, AirPort Extreme, and Time Capsule devices. The company continues to provide hardware and software support through bug fixes and security patches, although this will only last for five years. You can also purchase updated ones on Amazon.
If you have an AirPort Extreme, you can do a lot with it compared to its predecessor, the AirPort Express, whose USB port was only for use with printers, not external storage.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to connect a USB external hard drive to your AirPort Extreme so that it acts as a network storage device for your computer. It also supports printers and USB wireless sharing hubs.
How Airport Extreme hard drives and external hard drives work together
AirPort Extreme is Apple’s full-featured, high-performance mid-range WiFi base station, replacing AirPort Express with a radical design and major upgrade.
It offers hard drive and printer sharing, dual-band high-speed 802.11ac Wi-Fi, automatic backups, and a stronger signal than an AirPort Express router with six antennas and a tall cube shape.
It also has its own network address translation (NAT) firewall, built-in file server, private network settings, and password encryption.
The AirPort Disk feature in this device allows you to plug an external hard drive into the port to act as storage, since AirPort Extreme has no internal storage.
When you connect a drive, you can share data and storage space on it with your network. However, it is important to note that the router does not support APFS, exFAT OR NTFS drives – only those that are pre-formatted with FAT or HFS +.
However, this goes for its storage because you can’t do things like backing up your computer to an external drive using Time Machine. You also can’t stream content from the drive to other network devices like Apple TV, Roku, or other network media streamers as you can with other routers that provide a USB storage device.
In addition, the AirPort Extreme cannot function as a server for web or FTP functions, so in terms of functionality there is not much to do with it compared to the previous generation.
Add an external hard drive to AirPort Extreme
To do this, you need an AirPort Extreme, an external hard drive, and a Mac computer from where you can access documents and media files, as well as other information on the network, or share with others on the network.
- The first step is to properly enable and configure your AirPort Extreme. If you’re new to, learn how to set up your AirPort Extreme.
- Then connect your external USB hard drive to the AirPort Extreme Base Station. There is only one USB port, but you can use a USB hub to connect more devices such as a printer, multiple hard drives, etc.
- Open the AirPort Utility app by clicking Menu Applications “” Utilities “.
- Click Manual Configuration.
- Then click Disks. A new window will open where you can check if the external hard drive appears.
- Click File Sharing.
- Select the “Allow file sharing” checkbox.
You have successfully connected your external hard drive to your AirPort Extreme and can now use it wirelessly.
Use your Mac to connect to a network drive
After connecting your USB external hard drive to AirPort Extreme, the next step is to use your computer to access the network drive.
Your Mac’s Finder treats AirPort Extreme as a server, so the drive won’t look like other attached hard drives. However, you can still use it just like other hard drives on your Mac.
- To access the network drive, switch to Finder and click Preferences.
- Click the Connected Servers box if not already selected, and then close the Finder Preferences window.
- Click File and select New Finder Window to open a new Finder window.
- Select the AirPort Extreme Base Station from the sidebar of the Finder window. You will see that the external hard drive looks like a folder.
- From here you can drag and drop folders and files to a network drive.
Choose security settings for network drive
This is the last step in the whole process.
You can protect your network drive in three different ways:
- with a drive password;
- using accounts;
- with your AirPort Extreme password.
With a drive password, all users use the same password to access the network drive, and with an AirPort Extreme password, users will enter the password you set for the device. The latter option is not suitable for multi-user networks, as anyone with a password can set up AirPort Extreme.
The third option, with accounts, is suitable for networks with multiple users that require different access rights. Each user gets their own login credentials with read / write or read-only permissions. This is useful in cases like an office where you can allow employees to read or view files on disk, but not create or modify them entirely.
- To secure your network drive, open AirPort Utility Manual Configuration.
- Click Drives File Sharing.
- Select a security option from the Secure Shared Drives menu.
- Click Configure Accounts if you selected With Accounts and add an account for each user.
- If you selected With Disk Password, enter the password in the Disk Password and Confirm Password fields.
- Click Update. Your AirPort Extreme will reboot and apply any security settings you selected.
Here are the steps you need to follow to connect a USB external hard drive to your AirPort Extreme and grant access to anyone with a password or access rights to the drive.
Note. You can save your password in your keychain by clicking Remember this password in my keychain. This way, you don’t have to memorize it or enter it every time you connect to a network drive.
Were you able to connect a USB external hard drive to your AirPort Extreme following the steps above? Share with us in the comments below.