Port forwarding: definition, advantages, and usage examples
Only experienced users may use such a powerful tool as port forwarding because it has both advantages and potential weaknesses. On the one hand, it opens additional features of your router usage and surfing on the Web. This is a great and very desirable opportunity for customers who value high-quality Internet connections. On the other hand, new options mean new dangerous situations.
That’s why you need to find out trustworthy information about the port forwarding definition and reasons to try. It will allow you to use this tool for your sake and stay safe.
The meaning and role of port forwarding
The first thing you need to understand is the port forwarding definition. This is a process that aims to forward traffic to another port. You can’t see it at all because this is a behind the scene process in the Internet connection, but it influences your Internet experience. In general, its goal is to let any gadget send and receive traffic in a better way. Usually, this tool is in demand when a user needs to access any device from a home network and personal gadget in remote mode.
Here are several examples of using port forwarding:
- to watch the home camera when you are away from your place;
- to connect to and receive any data from your home server from another location;
- to let a new user connect to your server remotely;
- to manage access to a gaming server, and so on.
There are many options from this list. But let’s make a small overview of how your home Internet works for a better understanding of port forwarding’s role. So your provider gives you a unique IP address to your router. As a result, every device that connects to your Wi-Fi also gets an IP. When you need to make an Internet connection via your router, your PC makes a request and receives it back.
Well, though the computer processes the request from the device, it is important to understand the exact device that has sent this request. This is why ports exist. These features are similar to the names for PC that help to build connections. That’s why port forwarding is important to find a match between the router and the request to make sure the traffic is returned to the right device.
This is the basic information that you need. Now we are stepping forward to understand the role of port forwarding for users.
How to turn on port forwarding
Please note that details may differ depending on the router model. But in general, you should follow well-known steps to set up port forwarding. Here are 5 standard steps you require to make.
Step #1. Sign up for your router
The easiest way to get access to it is to type its IP address in the browser bar. You can use any application for this, for example, a pre-installed browser, Chrome, Opera, etc.
Step #2. Find the settings panel
You need to select the section of settings that are dedicated to port forwarding. You must see the list of available options. Every port has its bottom that forwards you to its configuration.
Step #3. Select the configuration
Your aim is to choose a configuration of the exact port you want to make settings. Your task is to add internal and external numbers there. Besides, these two numbers are not meant to suit each other.
Step #4. Type relevant IP address
Now your ports have their numbers, so you need to add a local IP to your device. This address belongs to that gadget you want to open access to your network. It will differ from your router IP, and this is the way it should be because the router’s goal is to hide a unique IP of your device and let it use a public address of the router.
Step #5. Use your port forwarding
If you did everything in the proper way, then your router is able to forward the request to the port to the exact device and do not make your individual IP available for third parties.
Safety with port forwarding
Many users worry about their cybersecurity and don’t know whom to trust in this question. Some say that using port forwarding is not safe, while others insist that it gives desirable benefits. In general, both sides are right. Just let’s take a look at one example to make everything clear. Imagine that your router is your apartment. It has several doors (ports), and most of them are locked. It means that someone can go in only if this person has permission (the allowance of the router). In case if one of your doors is not locked that someone who tries to open it randomly may do it without any restrictions.
Well, this is not a good idea to let someone leak into your system without permission. But there is nothing dangerous too. If someone gets access to one of your unlocked ports, this individual will access only the device that was connected to this port. It means you can let a third party access your device, for example, a security camera. For this reason, experts insist on using strong passwords.
How to use port forwarding and VPN
Virtual Private Networks also use port forwarding. It is quite similar to the process of the router becoming a mediator between the exact device and the Internet. When you use a VPN, then this tool provides you with a guarantee that the device doesn’t connect to the Web directly. As a result, this procedure has numerous benefits for a user. For example, it helps to increase the speed of connection, to access the exact device from other locations, and so on.
There are different types of port forwarding. You can use static and dynamic techniques that differ by their numbers. For example, static ports are stable and have the same numbers, while dynamic ones are changed every time you run a new connection. Usually, individual users prefer a static technique.
As a result, this simple guide will be helpful for all beginners who have no huge experience with port forwarding. Now you know how and when to use it. So feel free to manage your connections to the Internet with effective tools.