Port forwarding refers to the process of interception of data destined for one computer port and redirection of the data to another IP or port.
A program running on the target computer (host) commonly causes this redirection. Nowadays, however, it is more frequent to see intermediary hardware like firewalls, proxy servers or routers carry out the function.
Port forwarding sounds more complicated than it is. You may encounter the term port forwarding in gaming, but that’s not the only thing that it is used for. (Read How to Get Games Unblocked For School)
If you can’t connect to game servers or cannot access surveillance systems when you’re not at home, it’s probably because you may have to set up port forwarding.
Here you can learn what port forwarding is, why some data needs to be forwarded, and how to set up port forwarding on a simple routing device.
Do You Need Port Forwarding?
Port forwarding is useful when a computer on the Internet needs to initiate a connection to a computer behind a firewall or network address translation router.
When the connection is launched from the computer behind the firewall, the firewall/router recognizes the reply. It sends it to the computer that initiated the connection, such as a web server.
However, if a packet arrives on the outside interface, and it’s not part of a connection from inside. The router needs to understand what it needs to do with the data packet.
The router will reject it by default; however, if forwarding is configured, it tells the router which port number to use and which device to send the data to.
In other words: you can use port forwarding if you wish to run servers behind your NAT router. A fine example of port forwarding, Minecraft server set up on your internal device on your local network.
Is Port Forwarding Dangerous?
Forwarding ports is not inherently dangerous in itself, although the safety will be dependent on the service of the target port.
Besides this, the safety will also depend on how good the router firewall is and the level of protection internally and externally.
It is possible to carry out remote access using SSH and VPN. If they both have the same encryption levels, they work as well as each other.
However, because SSH only works at the application level, and only has support for TCP, it will offer remote access to a single computer.
VPN’s, on the other hand, work at the transport layer and offer full support for UDP and TCP. Besides this, they provide secure access to several resources.
VPN tunnelling may not be the sole means of achieving remote access, although it is the preferred method for many users.
As an aside, port forwarding SSH can be hard to implement when required for multiple resources on your network and can lead to DNS leaks.
VPN’s in the cases of premium VPN’s go to great lengths to prevent any DNS leaks, or any other leakage you may encounter from your network or any ports in use. (Want a top VPN? Read our ExpressVPN Reviews)
Besides this, a kill switch can halt all connections if you lose your VPN connection. This makes your port cease sending any data out from your router.
What IP Should I Use for Port Forwarding?
Because of the nature of port forwarding, you will need to assign a static IP address, so connecting devices know where to connect.
Here you can see the steps to assign a static IP address to your computer.
- Open the Windows Control Panel. Navigate to ‘Network Connections’ (you may see multiple connections, choose your primary connection)
- Right-click on your internet connection icon. Click ‘Properties.’ Beneath ‘This connection uses the following items.’
- Click ‘Internet Protocol (TCP/IP),’ and click ‘Properties.’
- Select ‘Use the following IP address’ on the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) dialogue box.
- Enter an IP address. Your static IP will depend on the range of IP addresses specified in the setup of the router. (E.g. Suppose the starting IP 192.168.1.25 and DHCP is set to a max of 15. You can assign such an address with two last digits of 25 to 40 such as 192.168.1.35.
- Add the ‘Subnet Mask’ to the subnet mask field given in your router setup.
- Likewise, enter your ‘Local IP Address’ of your router in your Default Gateway field.
- Click ‘OK.’
Forwarding Ports to Your Computing Device
- Open your browser on your computer.
- Enter the router address in the browser address bar. (192.168.1.1 is the default address of many routers)
- Enter the username and password supplied by the manufacturer if you have not previously changed this
- Navigate to the ports forwarding page. You may have a different name on the tab, such as ‘Applications and Gaming.’
- Set the port numbers you wish to forward. As an example, you can use a range of ports such as port 80 to port number 85, which link to the IP address you set on your computer or servers ports.
- You won’t need to set any other port numbers unless you have a different service, then you can set port 80 for one, and then another port in the range for another.
- Make any other ports changes or network changes and click ‘save’
For a port forward to work, you need to set your static internal IP network (ipv4) for your device as above.
Besides this, if you see port forwarding not working, there can be a straightforward reason. You need to use external devices connect from the outside of your router.
Your device or devices needs to present public IP addresses for the router to work and access your internal network.
What Does Port Forwarding Do for Gaming?
If you are into online gaming, then setting port forwarding can help as it forms a single route for your data to travel. While other data can head to many ports, your games have one location that is dictated by the port you assigned.
You can find your device is more accessible to other devices, particularly if using consoles rather than PCs. You can improve your connection speeds; gameplay action and lobby wait times.
The hosts see the benefits the most when forwarding of ports is used on the network as there is less interference.
A VPN can offer something similar and can be easier to setup. Besides, these allow you to connect directly to a game server that may be region-blocked. This you can expand your gaming world. (Read more: Best Australian VPN Guide)