The advantage of sharing folders on a disk connected to a local network, wired or wireless, is the ability to share files between computers with different architectures, such as Mac and PC, without the need to use techniques such as sending data by email or using removable media data.
The only things you need to have are: access to a local network and a user account created on the NAS that has permissions to access the shared folder, which allows at least reading the contents of the folder.
Using a shared folder on a Windows computer
To access a shared folder on Windows NAS, do the following:
Open a File Explorer window. In the left column, click on ‘Network’.
After a while, the right part of the window is filled with icons of all the devices that are shared on your local network. NASs appear with a single screen icon because Windows considers them PCs.
Double-click the icon of the NAS you want to use.
Then Windows displays a dialog asking for credentials to access the NAS.
Enter your username and password. If accessing the NAS is frequent, you can check the box next to ‘Remember credentials’ so you don’t have to enter them every time you need to access the NAS. After entering the credentials, press the Enter key.
The contents of the window are changed to folders that the user has access to. In this case it’s just the ‘Public’ folder, accessible to all users, regardless of their privileges, and the PCGuia and Test folders we created earlier.
Now the user can do one of two things:
Double-click the shared folder icon to open it and use it as if it were a folder on your computer’s local drive.
Right-click on the icon of the folder you want to use and select the ‘Map network drive’ option in the context menu. This way, the shared folder will appear in File Explorer as a drive connected to your computer every time you restart your computer. This is the most practical solution for most users because the icons appear in the main File Explorer window.
Windows chooses the drive letter, but the user can choose whatever they want, as long as it is not assigned to another drive or is the default drive letter, such as the letter ‘C’. The ‘Reconnect when logged in’ option is turned on and serves to make the disk appear whenever you log into Windows. If the NAS is turned off during Windows startup, Windows displays an error indicating that it could not connect to network drives.
Remove a mapped network drive in Windows
To remove a mapped network drive, just right-click on its icon and select the ‘Disconnect’ option. If you later need to remap the drive, you will need to repeat the above process.
Use a shared folder on a macOS computer
Mac can use network sharing through the same protocol used in Windows. However, this can lead to errors, such as files not appearing because they have accented characters in the name, or even permission conflicts. So, first of all, you might want to turn on support for Mac network protocols on the NAS.
Access the NAS configuration system. Then click on ‘Control Panel’.
Under ‘Network and File Services’, click ‘Win/Mac/NFS/WebDAV’.
Then click on the ‘Mac Network’ tab. Then turn on the ‘Enable Apple Archiving Protocol’ option. Then click ‘Apply’.
In the macOS Finder, click ‘Go’ in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
Then select the ‘Connect to Server’ option and click on the ‘Browse’ button. The system will search for all devices that are online. Select the NAS and click on ‘Connect as’.
Enter your login credentials and then click ‘Connect’.
Then the shared folders that the user has access to appear.
The operating system maintains a connection to the drive whenever the user turns on the Mac. If you want, you can create a shortcut to the desired folder on your desktop for faster access.
Remove a mapped network drive on macOS
To remove a shared folder on a macOS computer, simply drag it to the trash.
Remove shared folders from the NAS
You can remove shared folders through the NAS control panel, but be aware that files will be lost if you remove a folder with files still in it.
Just open the Control Panel, go to the “Shared Folders” section, select the folder and then click “Remove”.
In part five of the complete NAS guide, we’ll start talking about apps and how they can add functionality to NAS units.