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What is a Wireless Hard Drive?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A wireless hard drive is a computer device that allows for wireless data storage through a network or other wireless system. While some of these devices may allow a user to attach something to a computer to allow it to transmit data wirelessly to a receiver unit with storage capabilities, most devices simply operate by interfacing with an established wireless network. This means most users will require a wireless network, which may include the need for a wireless router as well. A wireless hard drive can typically store varying amounts of content, depending on different models and their respective data storage capacities.

Hard drives can be external or internal devices and allow data storage for a computer. A wireless hard drive is usually an external device that can be accessed through a wireless connection to a computer. By interfacing with a larger network, this type of device can also be used in a small business or home with multiple computers to allow different computers and users to share and access any information stored on the hard drive. This is often also referred to as network attached storage (NAS) and has been a mainstay of large businesses and corporations for many years.

Early versions of NAS systems required dedicated machines and more complicated networks setups, often costing more money than would be feasible for smaller businesses. A wireless hard drive, however, allows smaller businesses and home users to take advantage of this type of technology at a much smaller price. Most types of wireless hard drives can interface directly with an established wireless network, though some may require a wireless router to establish a connection with the system. Others can potentially be accessed by a single computer with a wireless card to allow for easy wireless external storage or data backup for a single machine.

A wireless hard drive will also commonly include security features that can allow a user to control who is able to access the information on the machine. This can be as simple as following the permissions used in an established wireless network or more specific controls that can allow certain users to access some files while others cannot. Much like other types of hard drives, a wireless hard drive can store a sizable amount of data, depending on the model and manufacturer. Common storage sizes can go beyond a few hundred gigabytes, and storage amounts of dozens of terabytes of data are not unusual.

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Discussion Comments
By David09 — On Jan 21, 2012

@allenJo - Just about any device can go wireless these days. I’ve heard of wireless printers and scanners, so an external wireless hard drive doesn’t surprise me.

The only downside is that you do have to enable security features, just like you do with your regular computer connection. Unlike your computer, your hard drive is your data storage mechanism.

It is raw data, and most likely the very device that hackers will be eager to crack into. So take extra precautions if you decide to go wireless with the hard drive. I agree with you, however; unless there is a good reason to do so, don’t do it.

By allenJo — On Jan 20, 2012

I’ve heard of people using a wireless network hard drive when using their computers to set up a home multimedia entertainment system, with the computer acting as a server for movies and stuff like that.

The wireless hard drive can have a lot of storage, like a terabyte, and store the movies and media that are going to be served up. You can access the movies through other computers that connect wirelessly.

Of course you can store other things in a large wireless hard drive besides movies, but this is just one practical scenario. If you’re just needing a hard drive to go with your desktop there may not be much of a need to go wireless in my opinion. Just use your USB port.

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