FileMaker - How to Setup a Network Router for FileMaker Remote Access

How to access FileMaker from behind a Firewall. Lesson designed for an administrator or network person.

The Big Picture

There are two sets of IP addresses to think about when setting up FileMaker Server to allow remote clients to login.

The first IP address is the WAN address, think of this as the phone number for your organization. This is how your router is called from the outside. It is the IP address that whatsmyipaddress.com obtains, and is usually assigned by your Internet Service Provider, cable or telephone company.

Internally, there are IP addresses assigned to each computer and router on the internal network. Think of these as local extensions, similar to what your telephone system would use. Each computer gets, what is known as an internal IP address, one that only lives within the network. These IP addresses are usually something like: 192.168.1.100, or 192.168.0.102 etc. These addresses are assigned automatically by your router. This process is called DHCP or Dynamic Host Control Protocol.

Getting the Router's IP address -www.whatismyipaddress.com

To obtain the router's IP address, open a web browser and go to www.whatismyipaddress.com

Obtaining the Computer's IP Address

Under the Apple Menu, select About this Mac. Then click More Info...

Click on the Network Info item on the left sidebar.

You should then see the IP address of the Built-in Ethernet, or Airport Network, whichever is in use by your computer.

Setting up Port Forwarding

Now that you have gathered the two important IP addresses, the Internal IP address and the external IP address, it is time to use this information in the setup of the Router.

Where the two IP addresses (the Router's and the Computer's) are important, is when using a Firewall. Most modern routers have firewalls built-in to protect you from outside attacks by hackers. It is necessary to open the Ports (or access windows through the router) used by FileMaker and VNC to the computer you want to talk to.

To set up Port Forwarding, log into your router. It is usually at the address 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1, but may be something else. Check your router's documentation.

Your login screen may look a little different depending on the router you are using.

Look for Port Forwarding

In this case, with an older Linksys router, it is in the Advanced area, but check the different tabs til you find something like Port Forwarding.

Port Forwarding setup

Your port forwarding should look something like this. Sometimes Port Forwarding is called Applications and Gaming.

You want a port open for both FileMaker and VNC (remote control software) pointing at the appropriate internal computer, in this case the Staff Computer.

You want both TCP and UDP protocols in operation.

You want them targetting the IP address of the Staff Computer.

You want them both Enabled.

Click Apply.

Your screen may look different than this, but the fundamentals should apply.

Unusual routers

If your router is an unusual router, go to this website: http://portforward.com/guides.htm

Find your router model in the list. Click on the link to that router page guide.

Select the Application

In this case, look for FileMaker in the list of Applications.

Follow the steps in the Port Forwarding Guide for your Router

Scroll through the resulting web page for a full description of how to enter a port forwarding address setup for your particular router.

Setting the Server to a fixed IP address

In your System Preferences, under Network, Built-in Ethernet, you will find a settings screen that allows you to choose 'Using DHCP with manual address'. Enter an IP address outside the normal range of dynamically assigned IP addresses.

For example, the normal range might be 192.168.1.100...192.168.1.124. Assign the Server to the IP address 192.168.1.125, above this range. That way, whenever the machine gets turned on, it will have this address.

Note: not all routers support this function, so you may have to use the dynamic IP address, and periodically update the Port Forwarding table as seen in the previous screen.

Summary

Three things have to line up to keep Remote Database Queries working.

1) We need to know the computer's internally assigned (by the router) IP address
2) We need to know what the External IP address is (www.whatismyipaddress.com)
3) Port Forwarding has to be turned on in the Router/Firewall and pointing to the correct computer.

Simple eh?

Port Forwarding set up in a standard router

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