You can manipulate networks in so many ways to achieve enhanced experiences using computer-network technology. Have you ever thought of using your home computer while staying hundreds of miles away from home? How can it possible? The existence of networking and the internet has made this impossible possible. Port forwarding is a crucial step in this whole complex process of remote connection to the computer. But what is port forwarding? You must pay attention here so that this complex phenomenon can be understood loudly and clearly.
What is Port Forwarding?
Port forwarding allows computer-to-computer connections which are set remotely from each other through the internet. A remote computer can access the specific applications and files of another computer with the use of port forwarding. Your computer at home may be behind a router and still, it can be accessible to other computers within a private network.
Before explaining port forwarding in detail, I should clear the concept of IP address and port address in case you have some difficulties understanding the terms. Internet Protocol or IP address is the unique code assigned to each and every network of a device that is used to identify that specific device. Your computer, smartphone, or router-each of the devices has got a unique IP address. The number is made up of four distinct parts each of which apart by a full stop.
On the other hand, ports are the points through which packets of information are sent either from one application to another within a device or from one computer to another. Ports are always associated with the IP number and can be compared with the extensions of the telephone number which represents the specification of a certain user within a larger portfolio.
Now, we come back to the port forwarding. You may have already known that you can ping a specific port. Let’s give an example for simplifying port forwarding. Assume that your friend staying in his house using his computer wants to connect to your computer. So, it will be a remote connection. Microsoft Windows has an application called ‘Remote Desktop Connection’ which can be used to make a Windows to Windows connection even when staying apart from each other. Your friend is ready to make a connection with your computer using a remote desktop connection through the internet; he puts in the port number of the application and sends a request to your public IP address i.e. your router. Here, the port number for remote desktop connection is 3389. When your router receives the request, it needs to know where to put forward this request or in other cases, whether to do it or not. This is the exact point where the step of port forwarding comes up.
You need to tell the router beforehand what port number may want to request a connection. To do this, you need to go to the router’s configuration page and make the necessary changes. In case you do not know the process, follow me on how to know your computer’s IP address and router’s IP address which should be put in to configure the required port of any application. Open the command prompt and type in ‘config and then hit the enter button. In the following figure, IPV4 is your computer’s IP address and Default Gateway is the IP address of the router that you are using to make a connection with the computer. Note down these numbers because they will be required when you will configure the router.
Now, put in the router’s IP numbers using any browser. Just go to the location where you put in the address of any websites, and after putting in the IP address click enter to go to the router’s configuration page. You may do it while changing the password and name of the Wi-Fi connection.
Find the port forwarding option on the page. It may be on the application and gaming tab. The look of the page may differ from router to router; hence port forwarding option may be found at different tabs. The following picture shows a configuration page for the Cisco router.
Put in any name for this specific port forwarding; let’s say ‘remote Desktop’. The most important part is entering the port number, in this case, 3389 at both the columns-external and internal ports. Then type in the IP address of your computer where the port will be forwarded. Save the settings for later use.
Now, the router knows what to do whenever it comes across the port ‘3389’. The router will put forward the port and as a result of it, the connection between your friend’s computer and your computer is made. Look at the figure, the 3389 remote desktop port is reaching your computer from the router.
Port number ranges from 0 to 65,535. For example- for HTTP the port number is 80 used when you surf any website. For FTP the number is 2021. Port forwarding is widely used in mailing, web browsing, desktop connection, etc.
Port forwarding is an amazing way of creating a remote connection of a computer to a computer in a private network. Hopefully, the article was helpful in understanding the term, and from now on, you should be able to use port forwarding in different application fields.