How to Check Whether a Port is Open

Port? What’s a port? And why would I want it to be open??

In this day and age everyone has broadband service at home. Most of us have multiple computers networked with our routers. Tons of kids use multi-player games. Many of us use remote desktop connect (RDC) to our home computers from work or the road. Bottom line, we need to open ports on our routers to individual computers and devices on our local area networks.

A port is a number associated with a network service that allows that service to be uniquely identified. So the same IP address (your home as it appears to the Internet) can manage multiple services simultaneously without all hell breaking loose. (Network address translation does this, too). One kid can play Call of Duty on the Xbox 360 with his buddies, all of whom are at their own houses, while his sibling researches a paper on the web. Another family member can stream Netflix while yet another is working on their office computer via an RDC.

Well that sounds great, right? Yeah, but you’re going to have to open up the port. It doesn’t just happen by itself. And once it is opened up how will you know if you’ve been successful? Certainly if the service is working that would be a¬†positive¬†indicator. But as so often happens where computers are involved it may well not work. Then you’ll have to figure out what’s not working.

I frequently find myself needing to verify whether a port is open or closed (because I have a really lame router that might not actually open the port even though its interface says it is open!). There are such services out on the web and they work great, but I was looking for something super lightweight and smartphone friendly. No bells and whistles, just super simple. So I made is my port open?

If the port you wish to check is on the same LAN as the machine from which you’re checking your IP address will already be correctly configured. If not, you’ll need to delete the IP address and replace it with your target machine’s. Then type in your desired port in the Port field and click check. If it’s open you’ll get a positive response. Usually pretty quickly, too.

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