Monday, 8 April 2013

Hosting a Web Site on BT Broadband - Configuring BT Home Hub

Configuring your BT Home Hub - Port Forwarding 


Following on from my previous Blog posts about setting up a "hobby" web site that is hosted at home using your BT Broadband, the next article covers how you can make the server you are configuring available for browsing.

Your BT Home Hub comes with a Control Panel that allows you to configure some basic and more advanced settings.  This can be access using the following URL (web address), this is the BT Home Hub Manager Home Page:

http://bthomehub.home/

The BT-Home-Hub-Manager - bthomehub.home

The BT Home Hub Manager Home Page should show your available BT services and the computers (and other devices) that are connected to your Home Network.  It's important that the computer that you are intending to use as your Web Server is visible in the list entitled "My Home Network".  More about your server on your home network can be seen in the previous Blog post about Setting up your Local Network.

To configure the necessary settings that will allow your server computer to act as a Web Server on the Internet, you will need to access the Settings pages.  This will require a login after clicking the "Settings" tab on the Home Hub manager page main menu.
BT Home Hub Manager - Settings (Log in)

To make your Web Server available to the Internet, you will need to add some new settings within the "Port Forwarding" section of the Control Panel's settings.  Port Forwarding is used by devices and applications, such as servers, to make sure that data coming from the Internet gets to the device that needs to use it.  When Port Forwarding is enabled, your BT Home Hub will send all incoming traffic for that application to the chosen device. 
BT Home Hub Manager - Port Forwarding
This is required because your BT Home Hub only has one ip address and yet you will (possibly) has several devices (including the BT Home Hub itself) that incoming traffic needs to access.  Once things are configured correctly, a request from the Internet to the ip address of your Home Hub will be forwarded on to the appropriate device based on the correct port.
BT Home Hub Manager-  Select Devices
This process involves selecting a "game or application" from the list of available in the drop down menu to the left of the page.  There are quiet a few pre-configured entries to choose from, but you need to look for the ones related to "http" and "Web".  There should be for relevant entries in total.  These are as follows:

  • HTTP Server (World Wide Web)
  • HTTPS Server
  • Secure Web Server (HTTPS)
  • Web Server (HTTP)

As far as I can see, there seems to be some duplication here.  I would personally suggest that there are only really two options here, for http and https (the secure/encrypted version of the protocol), but selecting everything doesn't seem to cause any conflicts and everything works perfectly well when you do.

  • HTTP Server (World Wide Web) is the same as Web Server (HTTP)
  • HTTPS Server is the same as Secure Web Server (HTTPS)

I presume the doubled up entries are just to make it easier to find the appropriate thing dependant on the terminology used?  e.g. Some people will look for web server whilst others will look for http.  It's also unlikely that you'll actually need to use the Secure http (https) for secure/encrypted web pages, but there's no harm in setting it up ready for later.

In my case, the server that I want to use as a web server had been named as SERVER-03, but yours will very likely be something different.  It is just a case of now finding the four entries in the "game or application" list and then selecting the appropriate computer from the "Devices" list on the right hand side of the page.  Each time you select the necessary application and the chosen device a button becomes available to allow you to "Add" the settings to the list.


What this process is effectively doing is setting up the rules relating to which port belongs to which device, and that access to this port will be permitted through the BT Home Hub Firewall.  The settings are not really visible, as you are just selecting an application that's already been configured on the Home Hub, but the port that is normally used (the standard or expected port) for web servers is port 80.  Therefore, to check that the settings have been effective, you need to check that the port is now open and can be used.  To do this, you can use a test that is available through various downloadable applications or more easily on some network and configuration tools within web sites.  I have previously used the Open Port Check Tool on the following web page to Test Port Forwarding on my BT Home Hub:
 
http://www.yougetsignal.com/tools/open-ports/

Yougetsignal.com - Open Port Check Tool
To use this page to check, you need to ensure that the "Remote Address" is set to your current external ip address (there is actually a link under the input field to "Use Current IP") and that the port number input field has the number "80" in it.  When you click the "Check" button, you should see a green flag and the message "Port 80 is open on xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx", where xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx is your current ip address on the Internet.

Having got this aspect of you home hosting set up to work, if you haven't already, you need to consider the Domain Name and set up the Dynamic DNS.  The full set up related Blog posts are as follows:




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