Is port forwarding something you should be using with your VPN?

Port forwarding is often used in one of two locations:

  • On your router’s wifi
  • Utilizing your VPN

Port forwarding may increase the speed of torrent downloads or provide remote access to a device. Port forwarding, on the other hand, might present security problems. This article will address the following:

  • What is port forwarding?
  • Port forwarding advantages
  • The dangers associated with port forwarding
  • How to port forward on a VPN
  • How to port forward on a WiFi router

The best virtual private network (VPN) for port forwarding

NordVPN is our first choice for those that need port forwarding. When you connect to a server, the software displays a random port number under the disconnect button. You may then put that port number into the software to which you want to redirect the port, such as a torrent client.

Additionally, NordVPN has a kill switch and a connection guard. These, respectively, disable internet access and terminate selected programs if the VPN connection is lost for any reason. They ensure that no data is sent beyond the encrypted channel.

It protects against IPv6 and DNS leaks and guards against port failure attacks. Although it has a smaller server network, it boasts faster speeds than the industry average. Additionally, it unblocks a variety of streaming services and operates in China.

What is port forwarding?

Through port forwarding, incoming internet connections may be routed to specified devices and applications on a private network. The private network may consist of all devices linked to a wireless router or of all users connected to a VPN.

When a NAT firewall is configured and another computer on the internet tries to establish a connection to your device, the attempt is prevented and rejected. Port forwarding enables unsolicited connections on certain ports to get past the NAT firewall, allowing devices on the internet to establish connections and access services on a local device. Other torrent users, for example, may download a shared file from your device.

To comprehend what port forwarding is and how it works, it’s necessary to have a working knowledge of NAT firewalls. Both wireless routers and VPNs often have built-in NAT firewalls. Each device connected to a wireless router or VPN server has the same public IP address but has a distinct private IP address.

The term “NAT,” or Network Address Translation, refers to a process through which several devices may share a single public IP address. Incoming connections are routed through a public IP address to your router or VPN server. Following that, these connections will be redirected to specific devices based on their port number and local IP address.

Outgoing requests are identified by a port number. When they get a response, they contain the port number, which identifies the device to which the data should be transmitted.

However, if you get an unsolicited connection request that does not include a port number, the request is rejected. Thus, NAT guards against malicious requests and establishes a basic but effective firewall.

However, in some circumstances, you must permit unsolicited connections. Port forwarding enables you to punch a hole in the NAT firewall, allowing inbound connections using the given port to pass through. All of these connections are routed to the device defined in your configuration.

The advantages of port forwarding

Port forwarding on a router is advantageous for the following reasons:

  • Allowing remote access to your own computer, laptop, or gaming console
  • Organizing online games
  • Remote access to a home media server, camera, or digital video recorder

Port forwarding on a VPN is advantageous for the following reasons:

  • Accelerating torrent downloads
  • Torrent seeding
  • Organizing online games (with a dedicated IP address)

BitTorrent connects your device to a “swarm” of people who are simultaneously downloading and uploading the same content. However, many of these connections may be blocked by NAT firewalls, resulting in decreased download speeds and even the inability to upload at all.

Effective file-sharing etiquette requires that you seed (upload) as much as you leech (download), which a NAT firewall may prevent. Port forwarding enables you to define exceptions and circumvent these restrictions.

It’s worth noting, though, that port forwarding is often not necessary for BitTorrent downloads. Indeed, the dangers may exceed the advantages.

The dangers of port forwarding

Port forwarding raises hazards as well, since it enables unsolicited connections to reach your devices. In essence, hackers can now gain remote access to your device. As a result, several VPNs completely forbid port forwarding.

The degree of danger varies according to the purpose of port forwarding and the systems that monitor those open ports.

If you’ve configured port forwarding on your router to enable remote access and management of a computer, for example, keeping those ports open for an extended period is a poor idea. Hackers may be able to take entire control of the gadget.

If your torrent client is just listening on that port, a hacker will be unable to do much harm, but you should still set your operating system’s firewall and demand a password to get in.

Port forwarding VPNs may be subject to port failure attacks. This enables an attacker to discover other users’ genuine IP addresses. This technique is not dependent on victims having port forwarding enabled—only the attacker must have port forwarding enabled. Many VPN providers may avoid this attack by configuring their servers with distinct incoming and outgoing IP addresses, but many fail to do so.

If you choose a VPN that supports port forwarding, verify on their website and in their documentation that they safeguard against port failure attacks.

How to port forward on a VPN

If your VPN does not have a built-in NAT firewall, there is no need to port forward—incoming connections will not be blocked. Additionally, the encrypted tunnel created by a VPN should circumvent any existing NAT firewall on your network, so you should not need to make any extra modifications to the settings of your wifi router.

If a NAT firewall is in existence, port forwarding requires that the VPN support port forwarding. While not all VPNs support port forwarding, those that do often allow you to configure it either via the VPN app or through the VPN website’s account settings. Bear in mind that port forwarding may be available on a limited number of servers.

While the actual procedure varies according to VPN provider, the following is a broad overview of how to port forward with a VPN:

  • Port forwarding must be enabled on the VPN app or on the VPN account dashboard.
  • Specify which VPN ports you wish to open.
  • Change the listening port on the software that uses port forwarding, such as a torrent client, to the same number as in the previous step.
  • In the program’s settings, disable UPnP and NAT-PMP.

That concludes our discussion! To verify that it is operating properly, go to and input the forwarded port number. When you click Check Port, a Success message should appear.

How to port forward on a wifi router

The procedure for configuring port forwarding varies significantly by router type and firmware. Having said that, the overall procedure should be similar:

  1. Navigate to the router’s admin panel while connected to the router. Typically, this is accomplished by opening a web browser and typing or into the URL bar.
  2. Enter the administrator’s username and password. If you haven’t already done so, you may search online for the default username and password for your router model.
  3. Navigate to the settings area and locate the port forwarding option. The position changes according to the type and firmware of the router.
  4. Create a port forwarding rule for the device to be forwarded. You’ll need their local IP address and the port number you want to utilize to do this.
  5. Save your configuration.

If you’re unsure about your device’s local IP address, you should be able to locate it on the router’s admin panel, maybe under the DHCP settings.

Port forwarding: static vs. dynamic

In summary, static ports remain constant whereas dynamic ports vary with each new connection.

If you’re using a router for port forwarding, static ports are more convenient. This eliminates the need to manually change the port settings in applications with each new connection.

Certain VPNs allow you to open a static port that never changes.

However, dynamic port forwarding is also popular due to its simplicity of implementation. Dynamically allocating ports enables providers to recycle and reassign unneeded ports. However, it is not as suitable as the above-mentioned use cases, such as torrenting and remote access.

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