You might have heard of port forwarding and its use in networking and VPN services. What exactly is port forwarding and why is it done? Let’s take a look.
What is port forwarding?
Port forwarding is a process that forwards the internet data going to a certain port to another port. Since it’s a backend process, the user doesn’t get to know what is happening behind the scenes.
It is a technique that allows internet traffic to go to a particular device more efficiently and quickly. So if you experience lag while streaming videos on Netflix, port forwarding can help you get a better connection.
Port Forwarding Basics
As you might already know, you need an IP address to connect to the internet. Your ISP gives an IP address to your router. Your Wi-Fi router connects to several devices and they all get an IP address each. However, the IP address that each device gets is private and non-routable.
To be able to access another computer on the internet, a device will need to connect to the router and use the router’s routable IP address.
Each time you want to connect to the internet using your computer, it sends a request to the router. The router carries that request to the internet and fetches the results. It then forwards these results to the particular computer that generated the request.
Why port forwarding is required
When the router gets a request from a device on the network, it takes that device and gets the required data from the internet. However, when the data is fetched, how would the router know which computer generated the request?
To assign a “name” to each computer, ports are used. All network connections need a port. These ports are just numbers. Port forwarding lets the router match incoming requests with their corresponding port numbers so that the data is forwarded to the right internal computer.
Port forwarding and VPNs
VPNs use port forwarding services as well. Just like your router becomes the interface between your computer and the internet and doesn’t let the computer contact the internet directly, VPN servers also use port forwarding to make sure a client doesn’t interact openly with the internet.
VPN port forwarding reroutes the incoming connections in such a way that they bypass the NAT firewall so that the connection speeds are increased.
VPN port forwarding can be helpful in many cases. It can increase torrent speeds and also lets you remotely access your computer when you’re not at home.
There are static as well as dynamic port forwarding techniques. Static ports do not change but dynamic ports will have new numbers each time you make a connection. Static port forwarding is generally more convenient for individual users.