The best ways to share files between multiple devices in 2022

The best ways to share files between multiple devices in 2022

a photo of two laptops next to each other

There is a good chance that you have more than one laptop or desktop computer connected to your home wifi, and that means you may need to share files between these devices. How to set this up has changed a lot in recent years, and you now have more options than ever if you need certain files and folders available anywhere.

To start, you only need your computers connected to the same network, whether it is via a wifi connection or a wired Ethernet cable. Once you have chosen your method or methods, it only takes a few clicks to get shared files – whether it’s with your own devices or other people’s devices.

How to share files with Windows networks

A screenshot of Windows' built-in networking features

Screenshot: Windows

If you are using Windows and want to enable its built-in networking features, you need to open Settings and then select Network & internet, WiFi, and the name of the wifi network you are connected to. Select Private Network and you are done – 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 search for “Advanced Sharing Settings” in the old control panel and make sure Enable sharing … selected below Shared folder sharing. You may also want to choose Turn off password-protected sharing further down to make it easier to connect. These settings may already be enabled depending on how you initially configured Windows, but you must both be enabled for file sharing to work properly. By default, the public folder associated with your Windows user account is available on the network. click Network in the File Explorer navigation pane to view other computers and devices (if you cannot see it, select See, Show and The navigation window).

To share specific files and folders outside the public folder of your user account, right-click on them in File Explorer and then select Show more alternatives, Give access toand Specific people: You can enter the details of some Windows users who can access or select Guest or All to make the selected files and folders more accessible over 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 networks

A screenshot of macOS networking features

Screenshot: Mac OS

To make your Mac and its files visible to other macOS and Windows computers on your home network, open Apple menu and select System settings, then Sharing. You will see that there are different options here for sharing printers and other resources, but what we are interested in is File sharing: Check this box to provide access to specific files and folders over the network.

The settings on the right let you specify which files and folders are available for 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 encounter problems with Windows computers, click alternative button in the dialog box to enter the password for your macOS user account, which may be required in some cases.

When done, your Mac should appear on the network. To view locations on a home network in macOS, open the Finder and then click Network in the panel on the left (or open Go menu and select Network). The options you see when connecting to another computer will vary depending on how the device you connect to is configured – you may need to enter your Apple ID username and password, for example, if required by the owner of the other computer (which in this case). in this case also you are).

What are NAS devices?

A photo of a NAS device

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

Although the access times are not quite as fast as they are for a device that is connected directly to your computer (or mounted inside it), they are fast enough for most tasks – and to set up one of these NAS devices so that all Your computers can access them is very simple. The software that comes with the NAS lets you control who can access what with just a few clicks.

You are looking at an extra cost with a NAS device, but the benefits go far beyond being able 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 backup – while another popular use case is as a media streamer, sending videos, audio and photos around the home to those devices who need them.

Third-party networking apps

A screenshot of Dropbox

Screenshot: Dropbox

Part of the reason why the built-in networking tools available for Windows and macOS have fallen out of favor is the rise of cloud syncing and storage apps like OneDrive and iCloud. As broadband speeds have increased, the delay in waiting for files to be uploaded to the cloud before downloading to other computers has decreased, and you naturally have a lot of control over which files and folders are shared as well.

OneDrive and iCloud are the options that come with Windows and macOS respectively, but there are options such as Dropbox and Google Drive also. In addition to the ability to share files around a local home network, you also get all your data backed up to the web, as well as a host of other features – the ability to recover deleted files, tools to collaborate on files with other people, and so on.

Dropbox actually contains a feature called LAN synchronization, which you can enable in the Client Settings dialog box (located below Bandwidth on Windows and Network on macOS): It identifies when two computers tthe hat is on the same local network are connected and sync files directly between them instead of going through the cloud first, which can speed up the process considerably.

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