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I want to connect 3 Windows computers (2 Windows XP, 1 Windows Server 2003) to an external USB hard drive via USB. I would like each computer to be able to directly read and write to the HD as if it were directly connected to each computer.

Using special file transfer software isn't a viable solution. Sharing the HD over the network also won't work for me. Is this possible?

Thanks for any advice!

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why is standard networking not an option? you clearly have a server. – horatio Dec 30 '10 at 18:37
Our IS department disabled windows file sharing. And the connection to institutional network file shares are too slow for my application. – wsk Dec 30 '10 at 18:44

No, it is not possible to accomplish this via the setup you are proposing. A USB connected hard drive cannot simultaneously be connected to multiple computers. You can share them via a port device such as this one, but the device can only be connected to one computer at a time.

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Nope, USB operates on a tiered-star topology with one and only one host controller.

One possibly feasible solution would be to use USB Bridge cables to connect two of the computers to a third, where the hard drive would be plugged in. You would essentially be creating your own USB network with the middle computer presenting the USB drive as a shared resource.

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Yes you can, but depends on your network security, group or local policy. Install USB device. You can share this accross the network, but the owner of the drive has to have admin rights to add users to shares.

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Please re-read the original question. "Sharing the HD over the network also won't work for me" – Scott Chamberlain Apr 12 '13 at 14:36

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