I had some issues with external access via port forwarding. IOGEAR's instructions as shown in Figure 5 are to forward ports 9000 and 9002 to the IOGEAR LAN IP from an external connection. I followed these instructions, but couldn't get to the GCN's web page. A call to IOGEAR's Engineers revealed that I also need to forward ports 80 (HTTP) and 443 (HTTPS) to the IOGEAR's LAN IP.
Figure 5: Manual's incomplete instructions for port forwarding
With these new instructions, I was able to access the GCN remotely, but only via an HTTPS connection. This limitation may be my router, and since I prefer the more secure HTTPS for connecting to my devices, this is reasonable. Note that enabling port forwarding of HTTP and HTTPS will pose challenges if you want to also access your router's web management utility externally.
Unfortunately, you can't change the ports that the GCN uses. One possible solution, if supported by your router, would be to configure your router to use port 8080 for HTTP or 981 for HTTPS connections, allowing remote access to both the GCN and your router.
While working on my port forwarding issues, I used the logging function on the GCN to troubleshoot. As you can in Figure 6, the GCN provides a time stamped log of activity and error conditions. Interestingly, the time on the GCN was correct for my time zone (EST), even though the GCN has no configuration options to set the time, time zone, or specify an SNTP server IP address.
Figure 6: Activity log with correct time stamps
An alternative to port forwarding for Internet access to the GCN is to use a VPN solution to access devices on your LAN. Using a VPN solution adds the advantage of creating an encrypted tunnel to your LAN over the public Internet. SSL VPN routers are a simple solution for small network VPN access, and two routers we've recently reviewed that support SSL VPNs are the NETGEAR FVS336G and the Linksys RVL200. I successfully tested VPN access to the GCN using a NETGEAR FVS336G. It is important to note, though, that a VPN solution is not required to access the GCN remotely.
Once logged into the GCN's web utility, a user can access their target PC via a browser-based Windows Client or Java Applet by clicking the appropriate icon from the main menu that runs vertically on the left, displayed below in Figure 7. Both the Windows Client and Java Applet provide access to the target PC, with the Windows Client providing the additional functionality of being able to transfer files to and from the target PC using a USB drive.