Continued from page 1
The answer is sort of. Picture a computer firewall in terms of its namesake. A firewall in construction terms is a specially insulated wall between office suites or apartments, which prevents fires in one suite from spreading to next suite. But sometimes builders want water or electrical conduits to pass through firewall. That's easy enough—they just poke a hole through wall, run their conduit through, and insulate around it. Computer firewalls let you do just that. They let you open specific ports while keeping other ports sealed off.
Gaming through ICF So when do you need to open ports? Believe it or not, when you want to play client-server games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein or Call of Duty on a distant server, you don't have to open any ports. That's because firewalls block data coming in, but not going out. When your PC sends handshake data out to server, a connection is established, and once that connection is fired up, it allows your game to communicate through firewall.
However, when you wish to host a multiplayer session or play a peer-to-peer game like Age of Empires, you do have to do a little footwork. In case of starting a server, your PC does not initiate a connection. When you start up a game and choose to host a server, it just sits there and waits for other computers to connect to it. When ICF is in place, those other computers can't connect. In fact, they can't even see that your PC is hosting a server. You'll have to open one or more ports to allow other players to connect to your server. Such is also case with peer-to-peer games, in which each participant has to connect to everyone else's computer. Thankfully, most games use a client-server implementation.
To open ports in your ICF firewall: 1) Click Start, click My Network Places, and under Network Tasks, click View network connections. 2) Right-click connection that you use for Internet, and then click Properties. 3) On Advanced tab, click Settings, and then click Add. In Description of service box type a name for port you're opening. For example, "Halo Server." 4) In Name or IP address of computer hosting this service on your network box, type 127.0.0.1. 5) In both External Port and Internal Port boxes, type port number you want to open. 6) Click either TCP or UDP, and then click OK. If you're unsure, repeat process for both protocols.
If you choose to make things easier, you can opt to turn off ICF when hosting a game and turn in it back on when you're done. However, this leaves your computer vulnerable while your PC is acting as game server.
Which ports do you open? Different games use different ports and some use TCP, some use UDP, and some use both. You can often find out which ports are used by a given game by consulting game's documentation, its Readme file, or by visiting its Web site and checking FAQ pages. Some games make port information readily accessible, and for others, it's hard to come by. You might try visiting a game's Usenet group or message boards at its official site or fan sites and posing question: which ports do I open to host a server? In some cases, you'll not only have to open ports for game's own needs, but also to meet needs of its matchmaker service, so that your server can be listed in other players' server browsers.
Be sure to close affected ports when you're not hosting a gaming server to keep your connection secure. That sounds like a lot of footwork, but it's worth it to keep your computer safe.
For more information check out http://www.tornadocomputers.com
CIO/Sr. Vice President of Tornado Computers, Inc. in Oklahoma City, OK.