Port Forwarding

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What Does Port Forwarding Mean?

Port forwarding is a networking technique through which a gateway or similar device transmits all incoming communication/traffic of a specific port to the same port on any internal network node. Port forwarding enables an external source network or system to connect to an internal source node/port, which typically connects to Internet services and an internal private LAN.

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Port forwarding is also known as port mapping, tunneling or punch through.

Techopedia Explains Port Forwarding

Port forwarding is primarily used to segregate network traffic, optimize network speed and to permanently assign a network path for a specific protocol or network service (often used in VPN services). Generally, port forwarding uses well-known port numbers. It is typically implemented at a gateway router, which resides at a network’s boundary, to automate the process of identifying and transferring network packets to a destination port.

For example, suppose that a router receives a packet with an IP address and port number in the packet header. If the router is not configured with port forwarding, it will first resolve/identify the port before transmitting. However, if port forwarding is configured, it will automatically transfer the packet internally to the destination node. The whole process of port forwarding is transparent to all connected network clients.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.