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Port Forwarding

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Port Forwarding

Postby Saltrams » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:25 pm

Good Afternoon. It was hard to know where to post this question as it seems to have so many facets but I chose to put it here because I encountered it most recently when trying to install this App.
There is a tick box on the installation screen (as there are for many Apps, for which I have abandoned installation because I don't know whether to check the box or not) about "Enable Port Forwarding?"
What is Port Forwarding and how do I know if I need it and if I have it will it mess up any of my other settings? Sure, I've Googled it but the answers are so alien to me they might as well be written in Cuneiform.
I have an ASUS7004T, which is attached to my Asus RT-AC87U router that is running Merlin OpenVPN to provide a hardware VPN router solution for my dedicated IP address. This is in turn linked to an ASUS DSL-N12E modem. You can guess from my question that I am no expert at this; I managed to set up the system (by more luck than judgement) but I am always worried that somehow I will bring it all crashing down by tinkering with stuff I know nothing about.
I wanted to install Kodi; that App required about 3 or 4 others to be installed first, so I started with Xorg and Python, then went to WebBrowser and finally Asustor Portal but now I'm stuck because AP is asking if I want to enable Port I?
Thanks for any help that you send my way :)
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Re: Port Forwarding

Postby orion » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:19 am

Port forwarding means some TCP/IP ports will be opened in your router / gateway. The purpose is to let outside people (including yourselves) be able to connect to your NAS services. If you don't want it (privacy or whatever reasons) and you simply need NAS being able to connect to outside (yes, the opposite direction), you should ignore it.

If you enable EZ-Router function in ADM successfully, that option will help you to setup the ports needed by the application. However, I believe you won't need to use XBMC, xorg and Asustor Portal outside your home. So simply un-check it.
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Re: Port Forwarding

Postby MikeG.6.5 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:41 am

Your NAS is, for all intents and purposes, a server. As such, if you want access to the services the server is serving outside of your LAN you need to manually forward ports.

EZ-Router is a half working solution. It opens ports via uPnP on your router. The problem with this is, most consumer grade routers will clear uPnP ports that aren't in use. So these ports are deleted, usually after 10 to 15 minutes of inactivity. By a firmware that can't have this option changed or configured by the admin of the router or server... :/ Which means those ports die as soon as you log off, close your browser window or move on to other things. Not reliable, but it IS REPEATABLE!

The answer? Manually forwarding the ports on the router to ensure you have 100% reliability and access. Yeah, it means you have to learn a few things. OK, it might not be something you WANT to learn. But if you want reliability and repeatability, you need to learn how to make use of this function on your router's firmware. (Or you could spend upwards of $2000+ for a truly professional grade router, with all of the headaches this includes. And it means that uPnP is probably something you have to enable on an application basis, which makes it even more of a nightmare for a home user...)

I could give you the step by steps for many common routers, but each firmware, router manufacturer, etc. is going to have different screens and ways to do it. I run an Asus RT-AC66U router, so similar model. I also run Merlin's build of the firmware. So I know the settings you need are going to be in the WAN section on the left, and port forwarding tab at the top. This firmware is very similar to Asus's own firmware, so go to their site for information on how to make manual port forwards. The information is going to be about the same. (Asus has been deploying a lot of Merlin's work in their own updates, so it's one of the best builds available for your router, FYI! My own experience with DD-WRT was BAD!)

If you want some level of protection from hackers, one thing to do is change the OUTBOUND port to something non-standard. (port 80 internal gets changed to 8080 outside, for instance) You have ports available to you from just over 1000 to about 65,000. Changing the outside port to something different isn't 100%, but it IS some protection. (I personally use my router's IP Region blocking, as well as enabling country blocking in the ADM. So if someone from Iraq for instance, tries to log into my FTP server on my NAS they are double blocked, first by the router, second by the NAS itself.)

You can hope that uPnP will work for you. (And it seems this is what you've been doing.) But in 30 years of network design and infrastructure work, 15 of those with large server systems, I'm telling you, it's going to fail when you most need it. If you truly want reliability, you need to forward the ports manually.

So to answer your original question... Is it REQUIRED? Not really.... But if you want to access something 2 weeks from now just as you do today then, well, yeah it is....
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Re: Port Forwarding

Postby Saltrams » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:20 pm

Thank you both, very much. Both answers were exactly what I needed; one to provide the clear, immediate solution and one to think about for the longer term. Currently, I have no need, intention or even capability to use my NAS for access from outside my home. (I'm just a home user so I don't need the function and I live in an area of unstable electricity supply so I would never think of leaving my house overnight without shutting down all electronic equipment and disconnecting UPSs from the supply. I learnt that lesson the hard, expensive way).
I'm very grateful for your time & effort in compiling a response.
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