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Below is the scenario at hand. To keep things short, I'm looking for a way to access the contents of the 1TB external drive from all three laptops shown in the diagram. Basically wanted to have the drive show up in Windows Explorer (as z:/ or whatnot).

From laptop 1 and 3, the drive is connected through two routers and a hub. This concerns me a bit, not sure what sort of firewall difficulties I'm facing. All three laptops are either Windows XP or Windows 7.

What's the best way to go about this?

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If you have no logical reason for segmenting your network with the two routers, disable DHCP on the second router (The router NOT connected to your WAN link) and plug the ethernet cable into one of the LAN links. This essentially turns your router into a switch and allows you to have one network with the extended wifi capabilities you are looking for.

From there, share the drive and and map it on the other workstations.

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How would a device know which router to connect to? Does it pick the one with higher strength? In any case, the first router (modem) has flaky WiFi as it's buried in the depths of the house, actually thinking of shutting its WiFi off entirely. – radian Nov 25 '12 at 20:16
    
So with regards to networking the hard drive, it has a MAC address, but that's about it. Would I be able to map to it directly? Or maybe the drive should come with some configuration software (for passwords, etc)? Would I still be able to connect to it through a hard wire connection to the router/modem? – radian Nov 25 '12 at 20:18
    
Generally, each device would connect to the router you specified. If it can't connect for some reason and you have also logged into the second router it will try that one. Your external drive must be plugged into a computer and shared over the network. This is done opening the properties of the drive and configuring the sharing options. Once you have the drive shared you "map" them on the other workstations. Follow these instructions. howtogeek.com/howto/13197/… – Scandalist Nov 25 '12 at 20:37

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