What is that USB port on the router for?

The home router is often overlooked and should not be. Because things as basic as knowing how to change the password and name of the WiFi network should be known by everyone. The rest of options such as ports, QoS manager, etc., are already things that few really need to know, although there are an option that is very useful and there are those who do not know it yet.

The USB port of your router gives much more game than you might think. And it is that, there you will be able to connect different USB devices and use them on a network. For example, a printer, although the best thing is when you connect a storage unit and right away you already have a multimedia server.

Thanks to this, if you want to share series and movies to watch them from any home device, you can do it easily. Although it is also true that with the multitude of streaming services and its extensive catalogs it is not something so demanded today. But hey, there is always someone interested and the important thing is to have options.

How to create a multimedia server with your router

For create a multimedia server with your router you just have to make sure that you have this option available from its own software and connect an external USB hard drive to it. Something that really is very easy to achieve. If you did not know, we will show you how to do it. Depending on the router there will be possible differences, but the base is practically the same in all of them.

The first thing you need is access the web interfaceYou may have your own application too, but it is always easier to go to your browser and enter the IP address assigned to the router. This is usually type 192.168.178.1 or 192.168.1.1. Anyway, using Windows or Mac is as easy as doing the following:

  • In Windows, enter the command prompt (look for CMD and press ultra) and run the command ipconfig. When you hit enter you will see a message with Default Gateway. The numbers you see below is the router IP.

  • In macOS, simply go to System preferences> Network and on the adapter (WiFi or Ethernet) you will see the Router IP.

Now that you have the IP, type it in your browser and press enter. You will see that the router interface loads and you have two fields in which you must enter the username and password. If you have never done so, it is likely that by default you have the ones assigned by the manufacturer. If you don’t have the instructions, simply do a search with the model of your router and the terms username and password by default. You will see that several results or pages appear where they indicate what they are. Most common admin / admin admin / root…

Once inside your router you should look for the section that refers to that USB port or the option to connect usb devices, media server, etc. This, again, depends on the user interface of the router itself, but it is not complicated at all.

Once inside this section, all you have to do is activate the option. Previously you will have to connect the USB drive you want to use. Our recommendation is that, although it can be a simple pendrive, the ideal is that it be a hard disk with enough capacity and if it does not require a better power adapter, due to the fact of saving you connecting an extra cable.

Regarding the format, you have to take into account that it must be readable by the router software, so the ideal way to avoid storage problems with large files is to use ExFat. And that’s it, all you have to do is go to your computer, Smart TV or mobile device and access its content.

For the latter, everything will depend on the application. If you are on Windows or Mac go to the section on networked devices and the unit will be detected automatically. If it is a TV or a VLC type player (available for both Android and iOS) you will only have to go to the network and you will see all the shared units within your local network. This is so because it is normal to use the SMB protocol, one of the most compatible with any system.

An alternative to NAS

As you can see, without knowing it you may already have at home a good alternative to a NAS if you only need a multimedia server to share files with other computers. If by any chance you still need or want to mess around with the options offered by the NAS, you can try to mount your own with a Raspberry Pi or opt for commercial options such as Syonolog, and Asustor or Qnap.

The important thing is that you find the option you need without investing more money than is really necessary. Because buying an external hard drive of 2.5 ″ and 2TB of capacity is something that only involves 70 euros of investment, and when you need it for something else it will always be available.