Forwarding a port on your router means having incoming connections from the Internet be routed to a specific device on your network. If another computer on the Internet tries to connect to you, such as if you’re hosting a website or a video game server, the router needs to know where to “route” the incoming signal.
Every program must go through a port. Ports are slots for connection points to your device, which can range from 1 to 65535. Generally speaking, each application will use its own port. For example if you wanted to setup a Minecraft or Plex server to game with your friends or watch your media remotely then you need to forward the correct port in order to let them through. You need to tell the router which computer to send incoming connections on different ports to.
Assigning Static Local IP Addresses
Most routers require that you assign your device a static local IP address. Your router already has a global IP address that is visible to the world, an analogy would be “Main Street”. Each device on your local network has its own local IP address too, an analogy for this would be “555” in the address “555 Main Street”. A static local IP is like a physical address on a street that never changes. This is so your router can easily tell incoming signals where they need to go to. Using static IPs in general makes your network easier to manage because you know where all your traffic is going.
However, some routers, such as AT&T routers, instead manage port forwarding based off of the device’s MAC address. This completely different from Apple’s Mac, please don’t confuse them. A MAC address is a unique identifier for your network hardware that never changes. It’s kinda like saying “The green house with four windows and 15 garden gnomes that is 200 square meters large” rather than saying “555” as the address. This allows the IP to change but still route the signals properly. This method is confusing and you should instead use a static local IP whenever possible.
We’ll go through the process of setting up a static IP for Windows and MacOS.
First thing you need to do if find out what your existing LAN, subnet, and Gateway addresses are. Click the start menu and type cmd in the search bar, you should see it at the top of the results. Right click it to select Run as Administrator. Once the command prompt opens, type in ipconfig /all and your network data should come up. Write down the IP address, Subnet, and Default Gateway address.
Then click the start menu and type in network and sharing in search box. You will see ‘Network and Sharing Center’ at the top of the menu, click this. When the Network and Sharing Center opens up you will see on the left hand side of the window ‘Change adapter settings‘. This will take you to the adapters windows, which will show you which adapter is live.
When you arrive to the adapters window you will see an icon named Local Area Connection. Right click it an go to the properties section. Once there you will highlight the IPv4 and click the properties icon that is below the box.
Click the button for Use the following IP address and enter in a correct IP address, subnet, and gateway address. For the IP address use the first three digits you have from when you collected your network data with the command prompt. So instead of using 192.168.1.101 like the screen cap shows us, you should use 192.168.1.10 to makes it easy to remember. Use the same Subnet and Gateway addresses. Now with every machine you will need to change the last digit of the IP address to a different number so the router doesn’t get confused on where to send traffic.
Now you have to enter in your DNS addresses. Some ISPs require that you use their DNS servers if that’s the case just enter in the same address from your network data. BUT if you don’t have to, you can use Google’s if you want as they are free and easy to remember. Type in 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 respectively.
Click the box that says Validate settings on exit then click the OK box. Then close out of the Local Area Connections window. Windows will then tell your router than “HEY! My address changed!” If you have problems with the connection you will get prompt saying as such but if you followed this guide
Congrats! You just setup a static IP for your Windows PC.
Again the first thing that we need to do is get your IP address, subnet, and gateway addresses. Once we know what the data is we can change it.
The quickest and easiest way to find your networking data on MacOS is to click the Apple Icon, select System Preferences, and select Network. Once you are in the Network windows select the connection that is active by the green light indicator. All the info that you need is right there. Write down the IP address, subnet, router, and DNS data.
>NOTE: On some older versions of Mac OS you need to click TCP/IP to find the data.
Now click on the Configure IPv4 bar and switch it to Manually where you will see all the boxes clear out. When you enter in the IP address don’t forget to change the last set of numbers to the address you want. Just like with the Windows example if you IP address is 192.168.1.101 change it to 192.168.1.10. Leave the subnet, router information the same.
THIS SECTION IS COMING SOON
>But lets get real if you’re using Linux you probably know how to do this already.
Setting Up Ports
Now that we have a Static IP set up for your computer we can start forwarding ports to it. We are going to login to your router’s web interface and open a port for traffic to easily pass through.
Open your favorite web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc.) and type in the default router number in the address bar and press enter.
You should see the login page for your interface. Every router has a default username and password and it’s usually provided with the router itself either with a sticker or in the documentation. If you can’t find the credentials your can search the make and model and go to the support page. There is a list of known defaults down below.
Once you login you should look for a page called “Port Forwarding”. However sometimes it’s under the ‘Advanced’ section.
>NOTE: It doesn’t matter what router you use all the information here will be the same. You will give the port a name, the static IP of the computer it’s going to, the port you want open, and the protocol you’ll be using.
Give the port a name (Plex, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, etc.), enter in the port number of the service you are using (Plex = 32400, World of Warcraft = 3724, Minecraft = 25565), enter in the STATIC IP of the computer that is running the service (eg. 192.168.1.10).
Select the protocol that you will be using. Usually you will be using the TCP protocol but some service require UDP or both. Just search what you need and select that option.
- Double check to make sure that you have enabled the port. You will be surprised how often this last step is overlooked. Save the changes you’ve made, usually with a ‘Save’ or ‘Apply’ button at the bottom of the page. Not always but sometimes your router will reboot to update the port table.
Congrats! You just successfully complete the absolutely mundane process of opening a port on your router. With this knowledge you are now able to setup more services and play more games with your friends!
List of Popular Ports
These are a few of the default ports that often come up when trying to host servers for games or other services.
|21||FTP (File Transfer Protocol)|
|22||SSH (Shell) and SFTP (FTP over SSH)|
|80||HTTP (Standard Web)|
|443||HTTPS (Secured Web)|
|989-990||FTP with SSL|
|3724||World of Warcraft|
|6881 – 6999||BitTorrents|
|32400||Plex Media Server|
List of Router Default Logins
Most routers have simple logins by default. If you particular router has credentials on a sticker or the box then use that instead.