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How do I remotely access my hard drive from the Internet using Airport Extreme router with a PC?

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Last Modified: 2013-12-21
I have a MAC Airport Extreme router with a hard disk plugged in the USB slot of the router.  How do I access the hard disk from the Internet (outside of my home network, LAN) using a PC not a MAC?
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The short answer is NOT VERY EASILY.

The Airport Extreme router is designed to share the hard Drive with internal network users, NOT externally over the internet.

The only way to do it is to map the attached drive onto a PC as a network drive and then enable SSH or FTP on the PC.  You'll also need to open the relevant ports on the Airport Extreme to allow the traffic through.

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The above answer is actually not correct.

With latest update, Airport Extreme is built to access your hard drive remotely even says so on their website, but you must have a Mac and MobileMe (99). With that option you data is sent securely over the internet and you dont need a static IP and occurs seamlessly.

However, since you do not have a Mac, you can use the option below to connect remotely free.

The two pitfalls is at home you most likely will not have a static IP. You have to use a service like dyndns as mentioned above, however there is still a problem. Airport Extreme/Time Capsule cannot update to those services when the IP changes. If you have an always on computer at home you can install free software to do that. But the average person who is trying to do this only has a laptop and that is with them. So if you are at work and you IP changes at home you have to wait til you get home to have it update to dyndns. The other pitfall is unlike MobileMe where your data is securely tunneled over the internet this option is far less secure. However, the instructions below let you change the default port to a random number which adds an extra level of security.

If you have either a Time Capsule (which is basically an AirPort Extreme Base Station with a built-in 500 GB or 1 TB hard drive) or an AirPort Extreme Base Station (AEBS) with an attached USB hard drive, you can share out the Time Capsule/AEBS hard drive and make it accessible via the Internet. To do this:

   1. Start the Airport Utility.
   2. Select your Time Capsule or AEBS. Make a note of the IP Address shown on the right -- you will need it later.
   3. Click Manual Setup.
   4. Check your "Connection Sharing" setting under the Internet Tab. The following tutorial is valid if your "Connection Sharing" is to "Share a public IP address", the normal setup for a home network. You will need to have a static IP address, or use a free dynamic DNS service. If you have a different type of "Connection Sharing," you probably don't need a tutorial to set up remote access to your disk; adapt this one as needed.
   5. Click Disks (at the top of the dialog box), and then click File Sharing.
   6. Select (check) the "Enable file sharing" checkbox and the "Share disks over Ethernet WAN port" checkbox. It is strongly recommended that you also set Secure Shared Disks to "With base station password" and Guest Access to "Not allowed"; not making these changes may allow unauthorized users to access your Time Capsule/AEBS hard drive.
   7. Click Airport (at the top of the dialog box), and then click Base Station.
   8. Enter a Base Station Password and verify it in the Verify Password box.
   9. Click Advanced (at the top of the dialog box), and then click Port Mapping.
  10. Click the plus sign (+) to add a new port mapping.
  11. In the Public UDP Port(s) and Public TCP Port(s) boxes, type in a 4-digit port number (e.g., 5678) that you choose. In the Private IP Address box, type the internal IP address of your Time Capsule or AEBS that you wrote down in step 2 (for example, In the Private UDP Port(s) and Private TCP Port(s) boxes, type 548. Click Continue.
  12. In the Description box, type a descriptive name like "Time Capsule File Sharing" or "AEBS File Sharing". Then, click Done.
  13. When you have made all changes, click Update.

Your Time Capsule/AEBS will restart. Once it does, you are now ready to connect to the Time Capsule/AEBS hard drive via the Internet. To do this when your MBA is away from home:

   1. In the Finder, click Go > Connect to Server.
   2. Type in the correct domain name or external IP address for your network, plus a colon and the port number you specified in step 11. For example, "www.myhomedomain.com:5678" or "".
   3. Click Connect.
   4. You will be prompted for your user name and password. The user name can be anything you like; the password should be the password for the Time Capsule/AEBS which you specified above.
   5. Click Connect.

VoilĂ ! You are now connected to your Time Capsule/AEBS hard drive from your MBA. You can access files, copy files back and forth between your MBA and the hard drive, delete files, whatever you want, as long as your MBA remains network-connected. The next time you go to connect, it should go even more quickly (especially if you save your password in your keychain, and if you add your home IP address/domain name to your list of Favorite Servers in the Connect dialog box).

Note that the Time Capsule/AEBS will appear in the Shared section of your Finder's sidebar as a server, with the Base Station Name of the Time Capsule/AEBS as the server name.
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