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At my low level of expertise, the only way I can share a mounted external drive from Ubuntu 14.04 to Windows computers in my house is to use the Samba GUI to share it, then edit smb.conf to add "force user = (my username)", and access settings as "Allow access to anyone".

Any attempt to restrict users, or define users, results in failure and seems to increase the difficulty level of doing this from "something I can do" to "something I will have to dedicate three or four full days to researching and understanding and experimenting with."

The end result is that any Windows computer connected to my WiFi can find the shared drive on the network, and connect to it without a password.

The shared drive only contains media files (music and movies), but I've enabled reading and writing, because the end goal is to let myself add music to the server without having to use the Ubuntu box, which is intended to just sit quietly without a monitor, etc. and act as a server.

This feels unsafe, but I don't know if it is unsafe. My wifi uses WPA2-Personal with TKIP+AES for security.

If this is a terrible and wholly unsafe idea, pointers on where I can find an explicit step-by-step guide to setting users for Samba to work with Windows 7 and 8 would be appreciated.

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As long as you only use this on your private home network and you don't share the network with other people that you don't know/trust (such as in an apartment complex), then you should be fine. WPA2 can be breached through brute-force attacks but someone would have to be in range of your wifi connection in order to attempt to gain access, and if you're very concerned about it then you could always maintain good backups on an external offline drive.

If you're not convinced, here is a complete guide on setting up samba to work with Windows computers from the Ubuntu forums.

  • Thanks, that's reassuring. How do I confirm that I'm only using this on my private home network? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but this is all very new to me. – JeanSibelius Jul 26 '15 at 15:35
  • If the computer that your external drive is connected to is on your home WiFi network, then your drive is safe from people outside your network provided you have a good password for the network. If you connect the drive to a computer while the computer is connected to a WiFi connection at a coffee shop or hotel, for example, then everyone else on that network would also have access to the drive. – Billy Brawner Jul 26 '15 at 20:27
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Yes, it is safe as long as you have a complex wifi password.The only way for people to get in is by gaining access to your wifi or router (wan). I recommend that you use a password though. If you want to ensure that nobody is on your network, run the arp -na command (you can also use nmap to scan the whole netmask).

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