How to Connect an iPhone to Network Drives
By David Weedmark
If you have set up a network drive in your home or office that can be shared with other computers, you might think you should be able to access those files from your iPhone. As the saying goes, there is an app for that. Apps like NetPortalLite and File Explorer Free give your iPhone the ability to see any shared drives on your Wi-Fi network and to access those files just as you would from a computer.
Ensure both your iPhone and the computer hosting the network drive are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. To verify which network the iPhone is connected to, tap "Settings" and select "Wi-Fi." You can then select the right Wi-Fi network from the available list.
Make a note of your computer's IP address. You can find the IP address by opening the Control Panel from the Start menu. Click "View Network Connections," then "View Status of This Connection" and then "Details." The IP address is a set of four numbers, such as "192.168.0.2." For most home networks, this is all the information you need. If you are an advanced user and have set up a Domain Name Service on your network, you will need this information as well.
Download and install NetPortalLite or File Explorer Free from the App Store on your iPhone. Both of these apps are free and work similarly. Premium versions of these apps, NetPortal and Files Connect as well as Files Connect cost $3 to $5 as of 2013 and offer more features than the free versions.
Launch the app on the iPhone. Tap the "Plus" button to map a new network drive. Type the network name or the computer's IP address in the text field. You are prompted for a username and password.
Type your username and password in the appropriate fields. Use the same username and password you use to log into your computer as the administrator, unless you have set up a specific username and password for the shared drive, like a guest account. Wait a few seconds for the app to map the shared drive. The computer's name appears.
Tap the computer's name. This displays the folders you have access to on the network drive. Tap a folder to see subfolders and files as needed. If the folders you want to see are not visible, ensure that you have them open to be shared using your username and password.
- Instead of the IP address, you can also use the computer's name to access a shared network drive using these apps. Experienced users may prefer this method, but this can be frustrating for beginners as spaces and capital letters in the name can be problematic.
- If you are connecting to a network drive on an Apple computer, make sure Windows File Sharing SMB is enabled before trying to connect with an app. You can find this by clicking "Options" after selecting File Sharing in Mac's Sharing Preferences window.
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.