HOW TO | SHARE YOUR AIRPORT-CONNECTED DRIVE
1 Use Back to My Mac
Open AirPort Utility from Applications > Utilities, select your Apple Extreme or Time Capsule router and click Edit. Click the + button on the Base Station tab to enter your Apple ID and link it to the router. Next, switch to the Disks tab and tick the boxes marked ‘Enable file sharing’ and ‘Share disks over WAN’. Next, decide how you want to connect to the router – by default you’ll need to supply your router’s password, but click the Secure Shared Disks pop-up menu to connect using a specific password you set up for the disk or using accounts. The latter option allows you to enter your account details (username and password) and then connect using those if you wish. Once you’re done, click Update and wait for the router to restart.
When you next log in to your remote Mac you’ll need to enable two additional features to access your router’s storage: open System Preferences, click Sharing and verify File Sharing has been ticked. Now click the back button and click iCloud, then put a tick next to Back to My Mac to enable it on that Mac.
Once done, you should see the router appear in Finder’s Shared list – click it, then click ‘Connect As…’ to log into it using the password or username and password combination you set up earlier.
2 Share drive with others
The big issue with Back to My Mac is the fact it’s not geared towards sharing your drive with other users. If you’d like to open up the drive to more than one person then you’ll need to configure it differently.
To go down this route, first open AirPort Utility from the Applications > Utilities folder. Click on the image of your router and make a note of both IP address (we’ll refer to this as ‘public IP address’ going forward to avoid confusion) and LAN IP address in the pop-up window that appears. Once you’ve jotted down those details, click Edit.
Next, switch to the Network tab. Verify that ‘Router Mode’ is set to ‘DHCP and NAT’, then switch to the Disks tab. Your connected drive should be visible here. Tick the ‘Enable file sharing’ and ‘Share disks over WAN’ boxes, then choose what kind of security you want to apply to the drive. This is where selecting Accounts may be of most use, as it allows you to allocate different levels of access to different people.
Next, switch back to the Network tab. Click + under Port Settings and select ‘Public folder sharing’ under the Description drop-down menu. Ignore the warning, then type 8888 in both the ‘Public UDP Ports’ and ‘Public TCP Ports’ boxes. Change ‘Private IP Address’ to your LAN IP address – typically 10.0.1.1 – and then type 548 into both the ‘Private UDP Ports’ and ‘Private TCP Ports’ boxes. Click Save. Finally, click Update and wait for the changes to be applied. Your Airport-attached storage is now technically accessible over the internet.
3 Access the drive remotely
It’s crunch time: you need to now access the drive remotely to verify it’s accessible. You’ll need to do this from outside your local network. The simplest way to do this without leaving your home is to use your mobile broadband connection – if your phone can be set up as a Wi-Fi hotspot, connect to that from your Mac, or use a mobile broadband dongle. If you’ve left the AirPort Utility open you can verify you’ve switched to this network as the router should grey out (or vanish completely).
Once you’re connected to your new network, open Finder and choose Go > Connect to Server. Type afp://0.0.0.0/ into the ‘Server Address:’ box, replacing 0.0.0.0 with the public IP address you recorded earlier. Click Connect – you should hopefully make a successful connection (be prepared for a lengthy pause), and once you’ve entered the required username (which can be anything if you’ve chosen to simply password-protect the disk) and password, the drive should show up in Finder.
If you can’t connect, and you’ve checked your settings, there’s a chance that something else – a firewall, your ISP or even your broadband modem – is blocking the connection.
4 Dynamic DNS
One final thing: your public IP address is liable to change over time, so if you suddenly can’t connect, the first thing to do is verify what your current public IP address is by looking in AirPort Utility. If you find your public IP address changes frequently, consider making use a of a dynamic DNS service, such as noip.com/free.
Once signed up to the service, open your router’s settings in Airport Utility, switch to the Internet tab and click ‘Internet Options…’ . Tick ‘Use dynamic global hostname’, enter your hostname (xxxxx.ddns.net) and user credentials. Click Save > Update, then test the connection by trying to connect to the server remotely using afp://xxxxx.ddns.net.
You’ll be asked to download a client that automatically keeps an eye on your public IP address – when it changes, the client will automatically update your DNS settings so your hostname continues to work without interruption.
Setting up your Airport Extreme to allow others to access your drive is a little more complicated.
Use Dynamic DNS for a consistent server name for your Airport-connected gear.