How to Forward Ports on Your Router

Are you having trouble getting your favorite multiplayer games or chat program to connect to the Internet? Does your tablet's Web browser fail despite being connected to a Wi-Fi network? Your problem may be a blocked port on your router, and that's easy to fix.

Your router stands between your devices and the Internet, making sure that data coming in and going out is directed properly. Imagine your router as a wall that keeps out unwanted and harmful traffic while opening ports to permit useful traffic such as Web pages, games, and file-sharing programs. Ports are like doors in the wall reserved only for useful traffic, and your router does a good job of automatically configuring most of the ports you need to safely use the Internet. In some cases, however, you need to tell your router to open up a certain port so a program won’t be blocked. This is called port forwarding, and here’s how to do it.

Assign Your Device a Static IP Address

First, you need to gather some information about your network and assign a static IP address to the device you're using. A static IP address is an unchanging number identifying a device on your network, and to forward a port you first need to give your router the static IP address of the device for which you are opening the port.

1. From a computer connected to your network, click Start, and then type cmd into the search field. Press Enter.

2. Type ipconfig /all in the window that pops up. Press Enter.

The Windows IP Configuration menu displays useful data like your IP address.

3. Record the following numbers listed under your network connection (labeled “Local Area Connection” or “Wireless Network Connection”):

  • IPv4 Address (or IP Address)
  • Subnet Mask
  • Default Gateway
  • DNS Servers

4. To set a static IP address on a Windows 7 or Vista PC, open Control Panel. Click Network and Internet, then Network and Sharing Center. In the left pane, click Change adapter settings in Windows 7; in Vista, click Manage network connections.

4a. Right-click Local Area Connection; then click Properties.

4b. In the list, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and click Properties.

4c. Select Use the following IP address. Add 10 to the last digit of your Default Gateway number and enter it into the IP address field. For example, if your Default Gateway is 192.168.1.1, the new number is 192.168.1.11.

You can assign yourself a static IP address by tinkering with the IPv4 Properties menu of your router.

4d. Enter the numbers of the Subnet Mask, Default Gateway, and DNS Servers that you recorded earlier into their respective fields. Click OK.

5. To assign a static IP to a printer, video game console, or other device on your network, you’ll need to use the device’s control panel or a Web-based interface.

Forward Ports

Now that you have a static IP assigned to your computer or other network device, log in to your router’s interface and open a port.

1. Open a Web browser, type your Default Gateway number into the address bar, and press Enter.

2. Enter your username and password to access your router’s interface. The default username and password should be listed in your router’s documentation, on a sticker on the side of your router, or on the Port Forward website. If the username and password have been changed from the defaults and you don’t remember them, you’ll need to reset your router.

3. To forward ports on your router, look for a tab or menu labeled “Applications & Gaming,” “Advanced,” “Port Forwarding/Port Triggering,” “NAT/QoS,” or something similar.

4. No matter what the router or interface, you’ll need to enter the same basic information. Enter the port you want to open under Internal and External, or enter a range of ports to open under Start and End. If you aren’t sure what port(s) you need to open for an application, consult this Port Forward list. Some common ports are 25565 (Minecraft), 6881–6887 (BitTorrent clients), and 3724 (World of Warcraft).

5. Choose the Protocol (TCP, UDP, or both).

6. Enter the static IP address you created.

7. Be sure Enable is selected if available. Enter a name under Application if you want, then save the changes.

Congratulations! You've mastered the arcane process of port forwarding. Keep this simple guide handy in case you need to open more ports in the future, or just try your luck with an automated port forwarding utility like Simple Port Forwarding.

Subscribe to the Business Brief Newsletter

Comments