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Glossary: Remote Access for IP Cameras

Remote access is the term used to describe access to an IP camera or other device on your own network from anywhere in the world. This can provide great peace of mind to home users who are away from home on vacation or business to see that their home and belongings are safe.

As standard, most home and small business networks operate in a Network Address Translation (NAT) configuration. Essentially the devices on your network, such as computers, printers and IP Cameras, do not have any direct access to the internet and instead have to go through a modem or router. This means that the modem or router is the entry point into your home network and as such most connection devices contain extensive security functions to prevent anyone from the internet accessing your devices.

In order to set up remote access you need to instruct your router to allow access to your camera. This can often be performed by means of Port Forwarding and is usually performed on a per-device basis.

When setting up remote access you need to be aware of “ports”. Every network item has over 65,000 ports which data can be transmitted on. You may like to think of your internet connection as a bookcase with many shelves. If a book (data) is sent to the bookcase it needs to be assigned a certain shelf. When accessing a book in a library you need to know which bookcase and which shelf the book is on. In this case the book may be designated as bookcase:shelf. The same is true of the internet but the form is http://address:port.

When accessing the interface on any IP camera you connect to its network address and its port. In order to allow access from within your router you need to know which port your IP camera is on. Once you know this you can instruct your router that any information received from the internet with this port number needs to go to your camera. Two devices cannot share the same port number so it may be necessary to alter it if you have more than one camera. Once your router has been configured you should be able to access your camera from anywhere in the world by typing in “http://your_ip_address:camera_port”.

Published on June 19th, 2008 by James Drinkwater

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