GUIDE

How to use your DD-WRT router for NAS storage

One of the great things about a DD-WRT router is that you can do lots of things with it (as well as using it for VPN of course!). If your router has USB slots (as the RT-ACU66U does), then you can plug in a USB hard drive and use it as Network Attached Storage (NAS) – a centralized storage hub that every authorized person on your network can access.

If you’d like to know more about DD-WRT, we’d also recommend reading our huge DD-WRT Guide.

This is great for sharing files or resources in the office, or acting as a centralized media streaming server in the household, so that family members can view or listen to a shared library of movies, music or photos, using any computer, smart phone, smart TV, tablet, or other network connected device.

How to set up NAS storage on your DD-WRT router

For this you will need:

  • A DD-WRT router with a USB slot
  • An external USB hard drive or USB memory stick (as far as your router and computer are concerned, these are identical)

1. Attach your USB storage to the router and power it up (if needed).

2. Enter your router config page by typing the router IP address (usually http://192.168.1.1/) into your browser address bar. Click on the ‘Services’ tab, and then the ‘USB’ tab.

3. Enable ‘Core USB Support’, ‘USB Storage Support’ and ‘Automatic Drive Mount’. If you have a spare USB port and want to connect a printer for wireless printing, you can enable ‘USB Printer support’ as well. Click ‘Save’ and then ‘Apply Settings’.

USB enable

4. Details about your USB storage device should appear in the ‘Disk Info’ section. If they don’t, then re-start the router and come back to this page.

5. Click on the ‘NAS’ tab. We are going to use SAMBA for this, so ‘Enable’ it, choose a Server String (name), and add your Workgroup. To discover or change your workgroup:

  • In Windows go to Control Panel -> System
  • In OSX go to System Preferences -> Network -> AirPort -> Advanced -> WINS
  • In Linux / Ubuntu to install Samba, open up a terminal window and issue the command: sudo apt-get install samba smbfs (you will need to enter your sudo password). Go to the /etc/samba/smb.config file and look for the line ‘workgroup = WORKGROUP’.

NAS 1

6.  Under ‘File Sharing’, click Add share, select a storage device or device partition from the ‘Path’ dropdown menu, and choose a name for the storage. If you want everyone who joins the network to be able to access the NAS storage then check ‘Public’, and decide whether permission is Read/Write or Read Only.

If you prefer to restrict access to named users then click ‘Add User’ and fill in the details, ensuring that ‘Samba’ is checked. Repeat for each authorized user (or less securely simply share a single User account details with all authorized users).

NAS 2

‘Save’ and ‘Apply Settings’

7. Your NAS drive should now be accessible over your Network:

  • In Windows go to Start -> Network -> [Router name] -> [drive or partition name]
  • In OSX go to File Manager -> Shared pane or Network folder -> -> [Router name] -> [drive or partition name]
  • In Linux / Ubuntu follow these instructions.

Winodws NAS
Here we can see the NAS drive in Windows

Mobile devices should also be able to access the NAS drive, but the specifics depend on which app you use.


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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53 responses to “How to use your DD-WRT router for NAS storage

  1. This works for me, but I cannot transfer any file over 900 MB to my attached USB stick.

    Smaller files no problem. For larger files the process does not complete and after awhile I get the error that the NAS share cannot be found.

    Its a 128 GB flash drive with FAT32. DD-wrt on WNDR3700, any ideas? thanks for your time

    1. Hi neal,

      I’m afraid I’ll have to throw this one out to our readers. On my DD-WRT router I can transfer files to a Fat32 drive up to 4gb (the file size limit of Fat32).

    1. Hi DMC,

      You are probably right, and I may get round to it at some point. I’m afraid that this is not a top priority for me at the moment, though.

    1. Hi Dobrin K,

      I’m afraid it’s not. The general advice is to use ext2 for flash drives, as it has drivers for all platforms.

  2. Any tips for people with routers that do not have a USB port? (other than buy a new router)

    I’ve written a *WRT add-on that reports which devices are consuming how much bandwidth, when. Obviously, the script has to generate and persist a number of data files. The easiest solution is to put a drive in to the USB port but some routers do not have them. I’d like to have an option for them.

    More info about my script – YAMon – can be found at http://www.dd-wrt.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=259806

    TIA

    Al

    1. Hi Al C,

      You could connect the NAS drive to an old PC or Rasperry Pi, which then connects to the router via an ethernet cable or WiFi…

  3. Hi Douglas,

    Thanks for the reply! That makes more sense. I’m just struggling on how to configure OpenVPN on my DD-WRT router so I can connect to my home network while I’m away. Is there a guide on how to install OpenVPN on DD-WRT at all? I understand how to use the OpenVPN client Tunnelblick but am a little stumped on how to get the OpenVPN server up and running.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jacob,

      We have a guide for setting up OpenVPN on a DD-WRT router here. Please note that this is not my article, and is not something that I have personally done, but if you have any questions I will pass them onto the Peter (the author.)

  4. Hi there,

    This could have been answered already but I’ve just read this article and want to connect a external HDD to a DD-WRT router to use as NAS. I also want to use the router as a VPN Server and sign up to something like PIA to secure browsing at home. However, how can I access my files outside of my home network? So if I’m on holiday and want to upload some files via VPN? Would I be with the teamviewer mentioned above or port forwarding? I’m leaning towards this option but may just buy a Synology NAS if it’s too much trouble.

    Any help is much appreciated as I’m a bit of a noob!

    Jacob

    1. Hi Jacob,

      Using TeamViewer is an option, but connecting to your router via VPN (as suggested by reader James Turner in these comments) might be a more elegant solution.

  5. I bought a Seagate 5 TB USB 3.0 HD and tried it on my Buffalo DD-WRT WZR-600DHP2 router. That router has one USB 2.0 port on it, but knowing that USB 3.0 is backward compatible I thought I would be fine. It was formatted as NTFS and would not mount. I tried formatting it as ext4 and that did not work. It turns out the DD-WRT firmware recognized the HD as USB 3.0 and “skipped” it. I saw that by logging in and running dmesg. I proved this but connecting the USB 3.0 HD to a USB 2.0 hub and then connecting the hub to the router. In that configuration the router recognized and mounted the HD.

    As far as accessing the NAS from the internet DD-WRT supports this. Configure the router to use either PPTP VPN or VPN using SSL (recommended but harder to setup). Then you can access your home network. I even have the router configured to “Wake on LAN” on of my computers. So I can be on travel and access the powered off computer.

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for the tips! I will look further into accessing your NAS over the internet when I have a little time.

    1. Hi Agustin,

      Off the top of my head, I would suggest using TeamViewer. This should allow you setup NAS storage as described above, and then you can access your system as normal (including your NAS disk) through TeamViewer.

  6. Good instructions, but… it doesn’t work fully. I have a 4-TB external hanging off my WDR-4300 with DD-WRT STD build. It doesn’t see NTFS partition. It also isn’t seeing the EXT4 parition. Both of these partitions are 1.5TB. It does see a 650GB partition for some reason.

    For the big drives, what prepping do I need to do for the drive? DD-WRT states using GParted, partition the drive, give it a /opt, and swap partition, and a data partition? Is that really needed?

    Any help would be appreciated. I am currently copying all my movies and files to my PC, going to reformat the drive and prep it, but I want to make sure I get it right the second time around before try to get the router to see it.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Dan,

      I have never attached a drive this large, but I think DD-WRT has problems recognizing NTFS and ext 4 partitions (especially at larger sizes.) The official DD-WRT documentation says:

      “For large HD drives that you “permanently” attach to your router you may want to consider creating three or four partitions:

      one: for optware packages – make it 32MB – 2GB – use ext2/3 as the format
      two: for swap file – make it 16-256 MB – format it as linux swap file
      three: for data space – make it fit the rest of the disk – use ext2/3 or FAT32 as the format
      four: for jffs space – make it 32MB – 2GB – use ext2/3 as the format.”

      Note that as far as I can tell, the WDR-4300 uses the Atheros chipset, and therefore does not run Optware (so you can probably skip this bit.) Because Fat32 has a 4GB file size limit (less than many movies,) I would just format the drive as 2 x 2TB (max size) ext 3 partitions (plus swap partition)…

  7. Thanks. Great instructions. I’ve been without my NAS for a year after switching to dd-wrt. A couple problems: One — too many nix geeks confusing me on the dd-wrt forums. Two — my Maxtor One Touch is a indeed a touchy POS. The Samba Workgroup shares is what fixed it for me. I had been able to telnet into the usb share but couldn’t get it to show on my windows network. Bravo!

  8. Thanks for the instructions! Working well with a 2TB NTFS-formatted USB 3.0 HDD connected to my router running DD-WRT v24-sp2 (10/08/14) kongac (SVN revision 25100M).

  9. Hello, i have a interesting problem. (apart from my spelling)

    i have done exactly as you described (a few times now) i can not access the hdd – i can see the dlna service if i get it up and running but the share not so much the \\192.168.1.1\share (for example dose not work)

    Windows 7 – ultimate / 860L router with build v24-sp2 (01/20/15) std / mac os x 10.10.3 (dose not see it either) i’m in deep and need a helping hand

    1. Hi Alex,

      Umm… does the hdd show up in Disk Info on the DD-WRT Services -> USB panel (step 3)? Have you checked that your computers and the drive are all part of the same Workgroup (step 5)? Also for both your Windows PC and Mac to use the drive, it will need to be formatted using FAT32… Another approach you can try is to Map network drive (I just tried this on my Win 8.1 machine, and it works a treat).

  10. I have enabled everything under “USB support” and restarted the router, but I can’t get anything to show up under the “disk info”. it just says “not available” i’m using a Buffalo DD-WRT router and a Fantom Drives external hard drive. Help

    1. Hi eileen,

      Hmm… it should work. Have tried plugging in a different hard drive (or USB stick)? Is it detected?

      1. I think I’m having the issue James Turner mentioned as my Fanton drive is 3.0 “I bought a Seagate 5 TB USB 3.0 HD and tried it on my Buffalo DD-WRT WZR-600DHP2 router. That router has one USB 2.0 port on it, but knowing that USB 3.0 is backward compatible I thought I would be fine. It was formatted as NTFS and would not mount. I tried formatting it as ext4 and that did not work. It turns out the DD-WRT firmware recognized the HD as USB 3.0 and “skipped” it. I saw that by logging in and running dmesg. I proved this but connecting the USB 3.0 HD to a USB 2.0 hub and then connecting the hub to the router. In that configuration the router recognized and mounted the HD.”

        1. Hi eileen,

          Interesting. Thanks for the that information. The only suggestion I can offer is to update your DD-WRT firmware to a more recent version. I’m afraid that I can’t promise this will work, however.

          1. As suggested I connected the drive to a USB 2.0 hub. I can now see the drive. I now have a new problem. When I create a share on the NAS file sharing section my only option is read. I have not read/write option. Thoughts on this. (This is driving me crazy)

          2. Sorry to be a pain. I now have everything working in the router settings. But now I don’t see the drive in File Explorer Windows 10. I checked and all the file sharing settings are on in Windows and I used the correct Workgroup name. Not sure what else to look for?

          3. Hi Eileen,

            Hmm. TBH, I can’t really say. Sorry. I have just plugged a USB 3.0 drive into my router (which is setup as described in this article), and it shows up perfectly (and I can read/write to it). It may be that DD-WRT has an issue with your specific router mode. Perhaps one of our readers can offer a suggestion?

          4. So I guess my problem was that my drive was too large. I had to partition it and then it worked. So I have everything working on one of my laptops. But on the other one, when I try to connect to the DD-WRT on the network I get “\\DD-WRT is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permissions. A specified logon session does not exist. It may have already been terminated.” Any ideas what is causing this error?

          5. On the second laptop my network was showing as public instead of private. Once I corrected this, everything is working. I hope all my problems help someone else. Thanks for your patience and assistance.

          6. Hi Eileen,

            Thanks for updating us on your progress. I’m your trials and tribulations will be useful to other readers who experience similar issues. So is everything working as it should, now?

      1. my only options are NTFS or extFAT. I tried both but still nothing shows up under “disk info”. I did try a USB stick and that does work. So I guess it is something with my Fantom drive but I have no idea what that would be.

  11. Very informative article Douglas for a novice like me. I have one query, will my PS3 detect the NAS if i follow the steps as mentioned.

    1. Hi Faizaan,

      Thanks! As for the PS3, I think so, but I have not owned (or even used really) a console since back in Sega Megadrive/Genesis days, so I’m afraid I don’t know for sure.

      1. Hi Faizaan

        Just to add onto Doug’s comment, in case it doesn’t you can try setting up a DLNA as that’s more likely to succeed.

  12. Nice tutorial, thanks a lot!

    It works with my external HDD, the only problem is that I can’t check how many space left in the “NAS” HDD, neither in TC, nor under Windows Explorer 🙁
    I can’t figure out, how could I solve this, any advice?

    Thanks in advance

    Walter

    1. Hi Walter

      For myself I can see in Windows Explorer. Have you got it mounted as a network drive? If yes in My Computer right click it and click Properties.
      Hopefully that helps

      Peter

      1. Hi Peter

        Thanks, it works under Windows Explorer now, though the Total Commander still says the 1TB external drive is 20 MB and it has no empty space (of course it has more than 120 GB)
        But its OK now, all the apps work properly 🙂

        Walter

        1. Hi Walter
          Glad to hear. If you look at your Device Manager – Drives you might see that there is a small amount of unallocated/ hidden space that is used for drive management/ indexing. This is what I would guess TC is picking up as I had a similar problem with winSCP.

          1. Hi, I also have the same problem with my router, it is a NEXX VT1520H and has an 4cg usb pendrive shared thru samba. When using Windows 7 and XP, and I ask the properties of the shared folder inside the pendrive it says 20 mb and no empty space. Windows allows me to record files in the folder larger than 20 mb and there is no problem. But third party apps in windows do not recognize the folder as able to be written because is full and do not have any empty space. Really nasty.

          2. Hi A,
            Hmm. As you say – nasty. I suspect it is glitch in Windows, so can’t really offer any solutions. If any readers have any though, we would love to hear them!

  13. Nice write up. I can’t find the router in Windoze 7. It’s probably a Windoze network security problem. Those helpful people in Redmond, always making sure we don’t hurt ourselves!

    And always making sure we can’t do what we need to do!

    Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Bill
      I have also done some DD-WRT (will start posting them at a later date so make sure you keep coming back as I’ll be including DLNA and torrenting too).
      When I was doing mine I found that it doesn’t always register it for some reason so try the following:
      1) Open file explorer
      2) Enter the IP of your router in the address bar like so \\192.168.1.1 (or whatever your default IP is)
      3) it should now appear with the different partitions you have (I have mine on two parties and you will find out why in a later article)
      4) right click the partition and select mount as drive.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      1. This comment about typing in the router’s IP address helped me FINALLY find my external HD attached to my Buffalo 1750AC router. Thank you! I’ve been looking for days!

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