Remote Access to My MediaSmart Server

As I mentioned in my 2nd article (Part 2 of Setting IUp my MediaSmart EX495), one other aspect of getting rid of the "network critical" warning on my Home Server Console dashboard was to enable remote access.  As I said before,

Enabling the Web Services was easy enough.  It was a bit of a magical experience, though.  Apparently, it connected to my router, using uPnP, and automatically configured it so that the appropriate ports were forwarded to my HP box.  The end result is that I can now access my MediaSmart server by using my EXTERNAL IP address, which is conveniently mapped to my private domain name.  The only problem with this is that I happened to already have a couple of web servers set up on another box in my environment, and the ports appear to have been hijacked and forwarded over to the MediaSmart server.  It is not obvious where the configuration changes were made on my router though (my explicit port forwards are still intact) so that issue will require some more research. 

A bit of reading/research revealed that although using uPnP on the router can be very simple, some folks do not recommend it because of potential security issues.  In my case, I did think it was rather strange that my HP MediaSmart Server was able to essentially override the configuration I'd painstakingly implemented on my router to accommodate an additional server I had with two different web sites on it.  After using the MediaSmart server's remote configuration agent to enable remote access, I was able to get to the EX495, but I could no longer get to my other servers.  When I logged into my router, I was able to see that my original port forwarding configuration was still intact, but apparently, that was being overridden by whatever had been done to the uPnP configuration.  

In digging around a bit, I found this article, written by Peter Redmer, on going through the automated configuration of remote access for your MediaSmart Server.  Note that if you don't have any web servers running in your environment, then you should just go ahead and follow the procedure in the aforementioned article and you should have no problems at all.

So, a bit of fair warning if you intend to configure the MediaSmart server for remote access - you'd be best to ensure you understand the implications.  If you've got someone else in the house running a web server, you might accidentally disable access to it unless you take some necessary precautions.

As I see it, there are two ways around it... you could reconfigure your web servers to listen on different ports than the 'defaults' or you could change the ports listened to on the MediaSmart Server.  In either case, you'd need to muck with your router (and probably turn off that uPnP capability to prevent its accidental reconfiguration) to ensure the right ports are mapped to the right IP addresses on your network.

A little digging through the help guides on the MediaSmart Server indicate that the ports used are 80, 443 and 4125 (all using the TCP protocol).    I found a tutorial (written for different purposes) that address the specifics of how to reconfigure the server so that it uses different ports for the standard services.  The article is available here.  I've decided not to go through this exercise right now because I may consider decommissioning my other web sites and instead, hosting them on the MediaSmart Server using IIS (the web server software provided as part of the Windows Home Server OS running on the MediaSmart Server).  Definitely not a small amount of work, but an option which should solve the problem.