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.
Right-click the drive you want to share, point to Share with and select Advanced Sharing
Click the Advanced Sharing button in the properties window that appears.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mapping a Drive
On your other computer, open Windows Explorer and click the Network option to view your network.
Browse to the share you created, then right-click it and select Map network drive.
You can specify a drive letter for the shared optical drive and have it automatically become mapped each time you log in.
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.
We’ve also covered using Paragon Net Burner, a third-party program, to share disc drives over the network.