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What are ports when talking about internet access?

Matt Van Arsdel

Question: What are ports when talking about internet access?

Answer: Ports are virtual connections from one computer to another. Applications make use of ports to either transmit or ‘listen’ for activity. For instance, to recieve e-mail, your computer will make use of port 110. To send, it will use port 25. To access a web server your computer will use port 80. Ports range from 0-65535 and are used for all forms of access. Ports 0 to 1023 are common ports, that is, they are specified for common purposes (like e-mail or web access etc.) Ports 1024 through 49151 are registered ports that companies can officially register for specific use of their programs (for instance: port 5190-AOL Instant Messenger, port 3074-Xbox Live). Ports 40152 through 65535 are dynamic ports. That is, they cannot be officially registered. Depending on the programs you use, ports will be opened for internet access. Often times you can use ‘port-forwarding’ on a router or open ports in firewalls to make sure that they remain unrestricted on your computer. However, caution is required since opened ports can also be an invitation to unauthorized access to your computer.

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