A router has two IP addresses, an internal address that acts as the gateway for every computer in the network and an external address. The external address can be broken into two internal IP addresses. A computer on the internal network can only send or receive data directly to the internal IP address of a computer inside the network. If it is to send data to a computer outside the network, it has to pass through the gateway to be able to send the data. The router automatically makes the decision on what to do with the data through the network address translation (NAT). But there are some programs that were not designed to be automatically handled by NAT, so you need to set up the port forwarding function.
Port forwarding means redirecting the computer signals to easily follow a specific path into a computer. The network cable at the back of your computer acts like a highway broken down into different lanes, and each lane has a toll booth at the end. Each toll booth is a “port” or a door.
Port choices for software in your computer are programmed based on established computer programming standards in the industry. Your router has to be commanded to allow these transfer packets through these ports for fast and speedy delivery to and from your computer to their specific destination.
An Internet signal is comprised of transfer packets that travel very quickly to deliver the data to your computer. It makes stops at each network intersection to find an open port, pass the ID test (like a password) that will allow the data through the port or find another port that will allow the transfer of data for delivery.
The router ports have to be set up properly to make your Internet work to its maximum speed for downloading and data sharing, computer gaming and streaming media as well as allow the port numbers of some applications to pass through your computer’s firewall.
To set up port forwarding:
- Make sure that your computer has a local area network (LAN) cable and you are connected to the Internet.
- Open a browser and type the IP address of your router into the address bar to go to the router’s webpage. You can check your computer’s default gateway by this: Start > Run > cmd > ipconfig/all and press Enter. You might be asked for a username and password when you configure your port forwarding. Linksys routers use “admin” for username and password while NetGear uses “admin” for username and “password” for the password. Check your router manual.
- Look for a tab that is labeled “Port Forwarding” or maybe “Applications and Gaming” and enter the desired ports. When asked whether to open ports for UDP or TCP, select both.
- Type your own IP address. You can find your own IP address by Start > Network connections > Local area connection > Support > Details or simply double click the local area connection icon in your system tray. Pay attention to the last three digits of your IP address as some routers only ask for these last three digits.
- Save your settings and exit. Check if everything works.
By default, some router ports are closed to block data transfer. Do not open all ports or you will be an easy target for hackers. Be sure to read your router’s manual carefully for instructions on your particular router model. And always stay protected while using the Internet by installing an anti-virus software, anti-adware and anti-spyware and activate your firewall protection.