Remember when every computer you bought had a CD drive? Then a DVD drive, and maybe a DVD writer? And these days, a Blu-ray drive? Well as you know things are changing and many of the newer form factor PCs such as tablets, convertibles and ultrabooks no longer include a so-called “optical” drive. Microsoft’s Surface being a case in point.
Now most of the time this isn’t really a problem. You can download most of what you need, or put it on a USB stick and get it from them, or even boot from it. But sometimes it would just be really nice to have a good-old DVD drive to get data from. One solution is to buy a separate external DVD drive of course and attach it via the USB port. Which is fine, but actually you might not need to do that if you already have another PC on a home network that has a DVD drive. Or a Blu-ray drive for that matter. You just share it over the network and any of your PCs or Windows tablets can use it.
It’s really simple to set up too:
- Using the PC that has a DVD or Blu-ray drive, open file explorer (via the desktop, or just search for “file explorer” on the start screen) and right-click on the DVD/Blu-ray drive you want to use on another machine
- Choose “Share with” then “Advanced sharing…”
- On the next screen, choose the “Advanced Sharing…” button
- Check the “Share this folder” checkbox
- In the “Share name” box, type something to help you recognise the drive. For example, call it “DVD Drive on Office PC”
- Click “Ok”. If you want to, make a note of the network path but it isn’t strictly necessary (see below for more detail)
That’s it. If you now use the machine that doesn’t have an optical drive (such as your Microsoft Surface), as long as it is on the same local network as the machine you’ve just been setting up you should see the machine name in File Explorer under “My Computer” and be able to drop down to get to the DVD drive.
If you’re going to be using it regularly you may find it more convenient to map it to a drive letter. To do this, open File Explorer again, click on “computer” on the left, then select “Map Network Drive” from the ribbon at the top.
Ensure “Reconnect at logon” is checked then either choose the “browse” option and navigate to the relevant PC and its drive, or paste the network path if you noted it above. Then choose a drive letter, and you’re done – the DVD drive will be available all the time just by using the drive letter you selected.