INFO: What is Port Forwarding
Description: This informational article covers the topic of Port Forwarding with a standard home router.
Port Forwarding in its most basic form is the act of forwarding internet-facing TCP/IP ports to a specific computer on the network. Don't let that bunch of jargon scare you though - it's not as hard as it seems. To start, TCP/IP refers to the protocol used to communicate over the internet (we also have a what-is article on this if you would like to review.)
Think of TCP/IP Ports like USB ports on your computer. By default on your computer, all of your USB ports are open and you can connect any USB devices to them. That's how TCP/IP Ports work - computer programs can communicate with one another over the internet using TCP/IP Ports, just like your USB devices can communicate with your computer using a USB port. So to reiterate, a network port is a way for programs to communicate with one another through the internet. For example, your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) uses port 80 to connect to the internet. Port 80 is the standard internet port, so all web servers know to listen to port 80 for connection requests, which is how they know who to send the web page to, and what page to send it.
When you introduce a router in to the mix, you have a new set of challenges. A router closes all of these ports, and only opens them when it is specifically requested to do so. This is by far the safest way to do things in terms of protecting your computer, but it does cause some complications when you are trying to do things like host files, games, or allow remote viewing of DVR systems through the internet.
Forwarding these ports is the act of forwarding the incoming port from the internet to a specific computer on the network, by that computer's specific local address.
So to summarize: In order to allow a computer from the internet to connect to a local resource such as a file server, a program, a DVR system, or a game, you need to forward the ports to the correct address on the network. That, in essence, is port forwarding.
For information on how to port forward with your specific router, do a search on our website for the model number. If nothing comes up, check out a website such as http://portforward.com/ for information.