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How to Share CD & DVD Drives Over the Network on Windows

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From ultrabooks to netbooks, computers are shedding their optical drives. If you still use an occasional CD or DVD, you don’t have to buy an external optical drive –  you can share another computer’s optical drive over the network.

The two computers must be on the same local network to share an optical drive. This requires using the Advanced Sharing settings in Windows – there’s no easy, HomeGroup-style way of doing this.

Sharing a Drive

First, open the Computer window (click Start and select Computer) on the computer with the optical drive.

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Right-click the drive you want to share, point to Share with and select Advanced Sharing

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Click the Advanced Sharing button in the properties window that appears.

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In the next window, enable the Share this folder checkbox. Type a descriptive name – such as “CD Drive” – for the share, and then click the Permissions button.

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Ensure that the Everyone group has Read access to the drive. If you require additional security – for example, if you’re not using a home network — you can restrict access to specific users. Click OK to save your changes after configuring the permissions.

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You may want to disable password-protected sharing to make this easier, assuming you’re on a secure home network. To do so, click the Network and Sharing Center link under Password Protection.

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Click the Home or Work header, scroll down, and select Turn off password protected sharing to disable it. Click the Save changes button after you’re done.

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After you click the OK button, your drive will be shared on the network. You’ll see its address under Network Path in the properties window.

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An icon over the drive indicates that it’s shared. To stop sharing the drive later, go back into its Advanced Sharing window and uncheck the Share this folder checkbox.

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Mapping a Drive

On your other computer, open Windows Explorer and click the Network option to view your network.

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Browse to the share you created, then right-click it and select Map network drive.

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You can specify a drive letter for the shared optical drive and have it automatically become mapped each time you log in.

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The mapped drive will appear as its own drive letter in the My Computer window. Double-click the drive, or navigate to it in any application, to access its contents over the network.

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We’ve also covered using Paragon Net Burner, a third-party program, to share disc drives over the network.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 05/18/12

Comments (15)

  1. Jon

    Hello HTG!
    I have a hp deskjet printer with a scanner. I was wondering if it is possible to share the scanner software across the network so everyone could use the scanner?

  2. Carlin

    For Jon
    Some scanners came with a sharing utility, check your manual or software to see if it was an option. Also, some scanners / printers had an ethernet connection option, if so you should be able to just plug the unit into your network and share it that way. I used to be an IT guy, but haven’t been keeping up with all the new stuff. Its most likely model specific, so you may get lucky. For your next purchase, look for that feature, right? Best wishes!

  3. Phylis Sophical

    Can this be done with the CD drive on an XP machine and the other, a Win7?

  4. thegeekkid

    @Phylis,
    In theory, it should work, but I have had problems with x86 and x64 bit sharing, so if your XP is x86 (as most XP computer were), then you might have problems. There are ways to overcome them, but I can’t post them in a brief comment.

  5. pbear_spirit

    Was trying this with my netbook (windows 7 starter) and of course no optical drive and 32 byte machine, it recognizes the drive, but won’t play the cd… do I need to be playing the cd in the host drive? I have it loaded in the drive but not playing? thanks

  6. pbear_spirit

    Jon,
    meant to leave you some additional info – in Windows explorer on Netbook, drive appears as 0 bytes free of 0 bytes… on right-click > properties it show audio cd, network drive and file system CDFS…

    when i double click it shows the tracks on the cd, but when try to play with either windows media player or vlc player it won’t play. would love for this to work. thanx

  7. Jon

    @ Scanner Sharing

    I have a router that supports one USB (I was thinking to try to rape it and see what happens when I add more USB ports but I did not have any time). The printer does not have network connectivity except the USB cable connected to that PC. I tried with my laser Jet P1005 but the router did not recognize the printer The printer i am trying to connect is DeskJet F300 if that helps.

    I will read the manuals but I don’t think it will happen since it’s an old model. IT’s just this question been bugging me for a while and always thought that there should be a way to do it.

  8. opizer

    usefull info.. thanks

  9. opizer

    @ jon .. do you mind tellin the type or model of the router … it might b a usb 3g router en that usb port is for the stick.if it is then it cant b used by a printer ,u just have to conect the printer to on pc in the network

  10. gowtham

    Thanks sir.. I need to install Operating System to a laptop which doesnot have CD Drive .. Can it be possible without External Optical Drive or USB Boot.. Can we boot from other lap???????

  11. Baggins

    @pbear_spirit:

    Unfortunately, audio CDs are formatted differently from data CDs. They do not have files, per se, thus “File and Folder” sharing will not work with them. The “files” you see when you open a CD in Windows explorer are meta-data, not actual audio files (that’s why they’re all 1KB in size), so attempting to play them directly will not work. This is also the reason you cannot simply drag and drop tracks from your CD drive to your music folder- you have to using a ripping program that accesses the drive hardware through a special Windows API – something that cannot be done over Windows file sharing.

    You may be able to accomplish what you want with the streaming feature of VLC. Essentially, you run VLC on the computer with the disc drive, and send the audio to another computer on your network that is also running VLC. I’ve never done it, so I can’t give you more details, but I’d investigate that as the first possibility.

  12. pbear_spirit

    @Baggins, Thank you for the streaming idea…

  13. Geekster

    JON , you can share the folder that stores your scanned documents onto your entire network so that they can scan files and have them on their systems …

  14. Jen

    On the second computer when I map the drive I get an error message telling me that the location is not available. The device is not ready. I can see the drive in the second computer but I can’t map it because when I click finish I get the error message.
    Both computers are Windows 7, the one with the CD drive is a desktop and the other that gives me the error message a Home Premium Notebook.
    I am able to see all my other documents on both computers but I just keep getting an error message for the CD drive. The drive letter keeps changing each time I try it and I still get the same message when I click finish.
    Can you help at all?

  15. Chris Hoffman

    @Jen

    Yikes, Windows home networking has always been full of issues like that to me. The good news is that you may not have to actually map the drive — you can just open its network folder (assuming you can access the folder) and access its contents from there.

    I googled your error and the first result is a forum post by another person with the same problem — with 0 replies. I wish I could help.

    Does anyone else have any ideas?

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