Port forwarding is one of the most important steps in setting up a security camera system. Although it is an easy task for an experienced IT professional, it is difficult for most CCTV installers that are used to just running simple coax setups, and almost impossible for most home consumers unless they have some sort of networking knowledge.
Port forwarding is actually a very simple concept. However, our ability to explain it in a simple way doesn't always work out. Instead, we're going to try something a little more metaphoric.
Why You Need Port Forwarding
Before we get into that, let’s just briefly go over why you even need port forwarding. Port forwarding, even though you don’t know how yet, gives us the opportunity to view our camera feed remotely. This means that no matter what device you may be on, as long as you have internet access, you’ll have the ability to access your cameras. So, what is it? It’s a means of accessing your CCTV security camera system no matter where you are in the world.
It's About to Get Metaphorical
Back to our metaphor and how this transfer of data works. Let’s put ourselves in a typical home with a fenced off backyard. In your house, you have a dog. Now, you’d like to be able to play with your dog both inside and outside. As it stands, the dog has no way of getting outside to your backyard, so being the awesome person that you are, you decide to install a doggy door. With your newly installed pet door, you're able to play with your dog both indoors and outdoors while remaining safe and secured.
Stay with us...
Let’s bring it together now. Your home in this scenario is your “network"; your network just being the devices tied together in your home or place of business by modems, routers, and/or switches. This usually includes computers, printers, tablets, smart TVs, and occasionally Smartphones. Your backyard here is the internet and your dog would represent data. The installation of your doggy door is what port forwarding is. The data (dog) having the ability to be securely accessed from both within your network (house) and through the internet remotely (backyard) is the end goal of port forwarding.
A little more technical...
What port forwarding does is create an opening for outside access. The ports that you open allow for people with the proper information to access your network and pull data from it. In this case, the data that you're taking from your network is your camera’s video feed. If you don’t open the port (or install your doggy door), your camera feed can’t be accessed through the internet and therefore not by any device.
Make it Happen
The way this is set up is through your router. After you log into your router, there will be a specific section where you’ll be able to do port forwarding. Creating these port forwarding settings in your router is similar to creating rules for your e-mail accounts. Just like you can designate that all e-mails from “John Smith” go to the junk mail folder, you can specify that anyone accessing your network under a specific port is redirected to your DVR’s login page.
This pretty much wraps up what port forwarding is. How to do it and then how to utilize it is another thing. For more information, we recommend reading our other articles related to port forwarding and remote viewing.