Ethernet Splitter / Switch

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barry1010 | 13:14 Sat 23rd Apr 2022 | Technology
29 Answers
I need to connect two devices to my PC by ethernet - the router and an external hard drive.

The router is next to the external hard drive and both are a distance from the PC. I have one ethernet cable that connects the PC to the router.

Could I use a splitter at the router end and use it to connect the PC and external hard drive to the router?

If so, a link to a suitable ethernet splitter or switch would be helpful.
Additionally, would this affect the broadband speed I get on my PC?


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I’ve never heard of an external hard drive connected via Ethernet cable (RJ45 plug/socket) – all that I have seen use a USB connection.
Question Author
Hymie, this one must be connected by ethernet
Doesn't the router have more than one ethernet port (socket)? If so, it can act as a splitter/switch.
Question Author
I can connect the PC and hard drive to the router but I am trying to connect the hard drive to the PC. The PC only has one ethernet connection and is plugged in to the router.
You may need a short ethernet cable or 2. Got dozens if you want one. :))
Question Author
Thanks, Togo. I'm trying to figure out how I'd use it. I'm thinking I would have to plug it in to the PC and run two long ethernet cables to the router and the hard drive - is that right?
Is there any way I could achieve the same result at the other end where the router and hard drive are? One long ethernet cable from PC.
Use two of them? Wall socket into splitter. Splitter to router and hard drive. Cable from both router and hard drive to splitter/combiner ... one lead out to pc? Bit Heath Robinson but should work if there is no interference pick up generated
Even Ebuyer don't sell external hard drives with an Ethernet (RJ45) socket.
Question Author
Hymie, my external hard drive started life as a NAS as worked very well for years connected by ethernet to the router and connecting to all my devices over WiFi.

WD (the manufacturer) alerted me some time ago about a serious security breach which meant it should no longer be used as NAS, or connected by WiFi at all. I was advised it was still safe to use as an external hard drive if connected directly to the PC by ethernet, specifying that it cannot be connected by USB.

WD stopped support for this elderly beast in 2015 but is still a very efficient, large capacity external hard drive and I am happy to use it as such.

I have always used my PC connected to the router by ethernet and of course achieved excellent speeds. Having disconnected it from the router so that my external drive can be connected my PC has slowed down considerably using WiFi. That is why I want my PC to connect to both the router and external hard drive by ethernet.
Question Author
Thanks, Togo, I'll try and get my head round it.
If you connect your PC to the router and connect the hard drive to the router then the computer should be able to see the hard drive on the network. That's what a network is all about. I connect my laptop to the router, my wife connects her laptop to the router and we a=can see each others laptop from our own. Connecting by cable or wi-fi makes no difference other than (possibly) the speed.
Question Author
bhg, please see my post at 14:23. That is how I used my hard drive for years but now I can't.
barry - but if you connect with cables there's no wi-fi involved; the wi in wi-fi stands for wireless.
// my PC has slowed down considerably using WiFi. //

Barry @14.23
In the unlikely event of your router having only one network connection you could always use something like this: User Recommendation

Connect the router to the powerline adapter (in a mains socket) and then connect the disc and your PC to the second powerline adapter.
There's a whole suite of powerline adapters available - single or multiple ethernet connections/with or without mains pass-through. Different makes are also compatible with each other so, if you want to add more later, they don't need to be the same brand.
barry1010 - if I understand correctly, the "safe to use if connected directly to the PC" is to ensure that the HD/NAS and PC then communicate via a dedicated local network involving just those 2 devices, with no direct connection to your router-controlled network, which has other devices, and the internet, attached. I would have thought that connecting via a splitter/switch that IS physically connected to your router network means that other devices could potentially communicate with the HD/NAS and the security issue is going to apply.
Having another think here Barry. Not sure that ethernet splitters will let both ports operate at the same time. They will not for instance send two internet signals at the same time. They may send one internet and one hard drive signal. Do you need internet into the hard drive for instance or only to the pc . How are you powering the hard drive? Is it connected to mains via a sata input converter or card reader type of gizmo(very useful)for example? What are the "input" ports on the hard drive?
My solution would be to get a network card (probably doesn't need to be particularly fast) to go in the PC and use that to connect to the HD/NAS, and continue to use your existing ethernet connection for the router network.
Togo - they should operate together. Every device on the network has its own address and every package sent by a device has a destination address and a sender's address on it. Packets wander round the network and a device will read the address to see if it's intended for that device and then either accept or reject it. The package contains the sender's address, so the device will send a reply with that address and add it's own address. Just like the postman - if you get a letter for next door you don't open it but pop round and stick it in their letter box.

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