Best Ways to Share Files Between Multiple Devices in 2022

a photo of two laptops next to each other

Chances are you have more than one laptop or desktop computer connected to your home Wi-Fi network, which means you may need to share files between these devices. The way to set this up has changed a lot in recent years, and now you have more options than ever if you need certain files and folders accessible anywhere.

To start, you just need your computers to be connected to the same network, either via wifi or a wired ethernet cable. Once you’ve chosen your preferred method(s), file sharing takes just a few clicks, whether with your own devices or other people’s devices.

How to share files with windows network

A screenshot of Windows built-in networking features

Screenshot: the Windows

If you are using Windows and want to enable its built-in networking features, you need to open Settings and then choose Network & Internet, Wireless, and the name of the Wi-Fi network you are connected to. Choose Private Network and you are set. You will be able to see other computers and devices on the network, and they will be able to see the Windows computer you are using.

Then find the “Advanced Sharing Settings” part of the old Control Panel and make sure Enable sharing… is selected under Public Folder Sharing. You can also select Disable password-protected sharing lower for easier connection. These settings may already be enabled depending on the initial Windows setup, but you must enable both for file sharing to work properly. By default, the public folder associated with your Windows user account is available on the network. Click on Network in the File Explorer navigation pane to see other computers and devices (if you can’t see it, choose See, Spectacle and Navigation pane).

To share specific files and folders outside of your user account’s public folder, right-click them in File Explorer, then select Show more options, Give access toand specific people: You can enter the details of particular Windows users who may have access, or choose Guest Where Everybody to make the chosen files and folders more widely available on the local network. At the same time, you can also set read and write permissions from the same dialog box.

How to share files with macOS network

A screenshot of macOS network features

Screenshot: macOS

To make your Mac and its files visible to other macOS and Windows computers on your home network, open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences, then Share. You’ll see there are different choices here for sharing printers and other resources, but the one we’re interested in is File sharing: Check this box to grant access to specific files and folders on the network.

The settings on the right let you specify which files and folders are available to other computers (the public folder associated with your user account is shared by default), as well as whether users on other computers can edit and view files. If you are having trouble with Windows computers, click the Choice in the dialog box to enter your macOS user account password, which may be required in some cases.

Once done, your Mac should appear on the network. To see locations on a home network in macOS, open Finder, then click Network in the left panel (or open the Go menu and choose Network). The options that appear when you connect to another computer vary depending on the configuration of the device you are connecting to. You may need to enter your Apple username and password, for example, if the owner of the other computer requires it. (which in this case is also you).

What are NAS drives?

A photo of a NAS drive

We have written before about the benefits of a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive, which is like a supercharged external hard drive that attaches directly to your home network rather than a specific computer. This configuration means that it is accessible at all times from all your computers and other devices.

Although access times are not as fast as for a drive connected directly to your computer (or installed inside), they are fast enough for most tasks and setting up one of these NAS units. so that all your computers can access it is very simple. The software included with the NAS lets you control who can access what with just a few clicks.

You’re looking at an extra expense with a NAS drive, but the benefits go far beyond the ability to share files over a network. Many people use a NAS as a secure, automated backup – models with multiple drive bays can create copies of your files so you always have a spare – while another popular use case is as a media streamer, sending videos, audio and photos around the house to all the devices that need them.

Third-party app networking apps

A screenshot of Dropbox

Screenshot: drop box

Part of the reason the built-in networking tools available for Windows and macOS have fallen out of favor is the rise of cloud storage and sync apps like OneDrive and iCloud. As broadband speeds have increased, the time it takes for files to be uploaded to the cloud before being downloaded to other computers has decreased, and of course you also have a lot of control over the files. and shared folders.

OneDrive and iCloud are the options that come with Windows and macOS respectively, but there are options like drop box and Google Drive as well. Along with the ability to share files on a local home network, you also get all your data backed up securely on the web, plus a host of other features: the ability to recover deleted files, tools to collaborate on files with other people, and so on.

Dropbox actually includes a feature called Network synchronization, which you can enable in the Client Preferences dialog (it’s under Bandwidth under Windows and Network on macOS): It will identify when two computers that are on the same local network is connected and sync files directly to each other rather than going through the cloud first, which can significantly speed up the process.

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