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1st Published, Dec. 2004

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Connecting through the Internet to a Home / SOHO Computer / Server.  Or How Do I find My Network on the Internet?

In order to log to an Internet site/server you need a valid address. Such an address might be the IP number (like http://207.46.250.222), a name like www.ezlan.net or http://jack.dns-ip.com

This page will describe few options to enable you to use any Internet connection in the world to connect to your Home/SOHO Network/Server.


Your system has to be prepared to accept a connection from the outside. 

If the Serving system is behind a Router or and Firewall the Ports that are associated with the serving applications have to be opened through both Firewalls. (Opening Ports).


If you would like to Remotely Control your Computers you have to install a Remote Control program.

Example: Ultr@VNC - Installation, and Settings.


If you would to run a sever and make it available through the Internet you have to configure a functional Server on one of your computers. 

You can run  HTTP, FTP, Email, or any other regular server, the methods describe bellow will fit all of them.

If you are Not familiar with Server installation, you might Start with some thing modest like  this:  Simple Server


On IPs.

When using Internet connection and LAN in a regular home setting, there are two kinds of IP Numbers that are assigned to your Network..

1. External IP (WAN IP).  This is the IP that your ISP assigns to you to use the Internet.

2. Internal IP (LAN IP).    This is the IPs assigned to your LAN's computers (the 192.168.xxx.xxx type).

If you need more info about IPs and How to find them.

How Do I Find my IP and MAC Numbers?

Using IPCONFIG and IP2 LAN, WAN IP and MAC address. 


To connect to your Computer/Server from the outside there is a need to know your External IP Address.


Option 1 - Static IP.

If you have a static IP it is very simple since your External IP number is always the same. Any one can connect to your system, all they have to do is to type your IP number into their Internet Browser Address Bar. Example:  http://168.143.107.163

Let recap. I have a static WAN IP (fake example): http://168.143.107.163

One of my Network's computer at home run Simple server with files as described in the Simple Server link above.  I am in my hotel in Vegas and I need a file.

I connect my Laptop to the Hotel's Internet connection. I start the Browser (I.E.) and type into the address bar http://168.143.107.163 that it, if set correctly my I will see my files on the screen.


Unfortunately, almost all low cost Broadband Internet connections are Dynamic. I.e. they change often according to the ISP preferences.


Option 2 - Email me my valid IP address.

If you just want to contact your computer by yourself and you have an access to your email from any place with Internet connection. 

Get this free program. This nice program would email your Network/Server Current External IP to an email address of your choice: dynamicIP

Install it on one of your computers, and it will periodically send an email to your email address telling you what is the current External IP.  Type the IP to the address bar of any Internet connection in the world and you will get to your system (provided you Opened the Ports to the specific Computer through your Firewalls, and left the system running).

Let recap this One.  My Internet Connection WAN IP  is of the dynamic type.  I set dynamicIP program to check every 10 minutes email to my WebMail address (example: jack@gmail.com) if the number changed from the previous reading.

I am in my hotel in Vegas and I need a file that is residing on my office server. I log to the Internet, I log to my Gmail account, I see the email with my current WAN IP.

I copy IP number, and paste it to the Browser (I.E.) address bar. If set correctly I would see the files that are on my home server and would be able to download the file of my choice.


Option 3 - Dynamic DNS Service.

You do not want to be bothered with the above email process, and or you would like to make your Computer/Server/Network to be available through the Internet.

Use a DNS Service.  

DNS= Domain Name Servers are Data Bases spread all over the Internet telling the system what is the current address of the server that you are Trying to reach.

The DNS services would provide you with personal service to Route your Dynamic address to a permanent presence on the Internet.

These services (some of them are Free) will provide you with a small Client program that should be installed on your server computer. This program will detect changes in your WAN IP and would automatically send the current External IP to the DNS Service. 
When someone wants to connect to your server and use your Internet address they actually connect to your permanent personal address with the DNS service, and the service redirect the traffic to your current IP of your Internet connection.

Example: I subscribed to the Free DNS service myip.us as "jack". My assigned Internet address would be http://jack.myip.us (notice no www since jack  is sub domain of www.myip.us).

Given this setting my Home Server can be reached from every place on the Internet by typing into the Browser Address Bar: http://jack.myip.us 


Here is a list of most free (and for pay) DNS Services.


The important aspects of the table in the link bellow are the first two columns. 

 

Link to: List of DNS Services.


Column 1 - Sub Domains.  It means that you do not have to buy any Internet Domain (as an example www.ezlan.net is a name of a domain).  Your Domain becomes a sub domain of the service.

Example: If you subscribe to the DNS service www.myip.us as "jack" your Internet address would be http://jack.myip.us (notice no www since it is sub domain of www.myip.us).

Column 2 - Custom Domain. The DNS service might be free but it requires you to buy a Domain before you start to use the service.  The cost of a Domain is about $7-$15 per year.
When using Custom Domain, the DNS service will provide the redirection service but your Internet address will be your domain.  I.e. if you bought the Domain www.jack.com any one who types www.jack.com into their browser will be Routed to your Server.


If you buy a Domain make sure that it is actually yours and that you can host the domain on any server of your choice.
Some inexpensive domain vendors make their income from insisting that your Web Site has to be on their fee for service Hosting system and you have to pay Extra if you move your Web Site to be Hosted by another vendor.


Do not buy a Domain that does not provide you with On Line Domain Controller. 

If there is No online Domain Controller you are at the merci of the support practice of the   Domain Vendor.

What is a Domain Controller?

It is a link to a page in the site of your Domain Vendor that allows you (with an adequate password) to control on line all the aspects involving your domain
Including, Ownership, Hosting DNS, etc.

Since it is available Online you do not need to contact the vendor's support system to make changes to your domain settings.


Check your contract with your ISP running certain type of servers might be a violation of you Term of Service (TOS).


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