When installing your first internet CCTV camera, you will be able to follow the camera’s installation manual and will soon see the camera’s picture on a computer connected to the same router as the camera. The fun part is trying to access the camera from outside the local network, across the internet, and that is where port forwarding comes in. This article describes how to set up port forwarding.
Once you have your internet CCTV camera in hand, the first step is to configure it, unless you have purchased a fully-configured camera from a specialist supplier. Very soon you will be able to see the camera’s picture on your PC or laptop. From the configuration process you will have learned the internal port number of your camera, and its LAN IP address (the IP address on your local network). For example, the LAN IP address could be something like 192.168.1.101 and the camera’s internal port number, say, 80. If it is a wireless internet CCTV camera, you will then go on to key the wireless settings into the camera and reach that moment when you unplug the camera from the router, and as if by magic, still see the moving picture!
At this stage, your camera is only accessible within your local network, in the same building. The real beauty of internet CCTV is that you can see your property from anywhere in the world, but as it stands, if you key the address of the camera into a web browser on a computer elsewhere, your router’s firewall will block the incoming request and you will get a “page not found” message. Port forwarding, sometimes known as virtual server, is a way to ask the router to send the incoming request onwards to the camera instead of blocking it.
On your PC, you need to open your router’s administration pages to set up port forwarding. Look for a menu item called something like “port forwarding”, “port mapping”, “routing table”, “services table” or “virtual servers”, usually in the firewall section. Here you will typically find a table with something like the following items that you will need to key in:
- LAN IP Address (of the camera. LAN or Local Area Network means your home network.)
- Incoming WAN Port Number (WAN or Wide Area Network means the internet)
- Destination LAN Port Number (of the camera)
The LAN IP address is the local IP address of the camera that you will have chosen during its set-up, e.g. 192.168.1.101. The destination port number is the internal port number of the camera, either a number you have chosen or its default which is often 80. The incoming WAN port number is the port number you will use to access the camera over the internet. You can only choose certain port numbers – something just above 8000 is safe, say 8150. In some routers, there is no option to set the destination port, in which case the camera’s internal port has to be the same as the WAN port. In our example this would mean changing the camera’s configuration so that its port was 8150 to match the WAN port instead of the default 80. Once you have keyed these details into the router, you will need to find out your WAN or internet IP address. You will find this on the status or DSL screen within your router’s administration pages. I will assume for this article that this IP address is static (does not change over time). Be careful to look for the internet IP address and not the local one that starts 192.168.
Having worked through this process you will be able to access your camera from the internet. If for example your network’s internet IP address is 126.96.36.199, you would key an address of http:// 188.8.131.52:8150 into your browser’s address bar. After logging in, as if by magic you will be able to see your property or family from wherever you happen to be.