Fun with routing… or, how I finally got my server to freaking work
Some of you may remember that that I built myself a home media server awhile back to cut down on my DVD clutter and generally just make things more streamlined. Some of you may also remember that I was trying to work out some bugs with it.
One of the biggest issues I was having was that my server couldn’t be seen by anything outside my home network. Not a huge deal, since it was primarily for use at home anyway, but I thought it might be nice to be able to access my collection away from home, too (my music in particular, which I wanted to stream at work, in the car, etc.). Plex, the server software I’m using, makes that super easy… if you can get the damn server to talk to Plex on the web.
I tried everything I could think of (except the obvious, which I’ll get to in a moment). I experimented with different router settings. I switched to a new cable modem (thinking perhaps that the one I was leasing from Comcast may have something blocked to prevent setting up your own server), I updated firmware, and I browsed through forums looking for people having the same problem. Alas, all was to no avail.
The solution was so stupidly simple, that I had to kick myself after I realized it.
Just before I built my media server, I switched to Ooma’s VoIP telephone service. In doing so, I had to install the Ooma Telo hardware on my network. My mistake? I followed the instructions. 🙂
See, the setup guide that comes with Ooma recommends that the the Telo be connected directly to the modem, and that the router should then be connected to the Ooma. It can be the other way around, but that is the RECOMMENDED setup. And it would have been find if I were just an average user not doing anything more complex then making phone calls and surfing the internet.
So, I resigned myself to having a server that only worked on my home network (OK, not really… I’m too OCD about tech problems to do that.) But it kind of ended up on the back burner for awhile, until I had the idea to plug my server directly into my modem, and magically, the problem went away.
This is the point at which I had to start kicking myself, because I realized what should have been obvious from the beginning.
The Ooma Telo was acting as a second router. When I set up my media server, obviously, I connected it to my main router… but data was going from my server, through my router, through the Ooma Telo, and out to the internet (and vice versa). The result was that I was running into a double NAT situation and didn’t realize it. I swapped the positions of the router and the Ooma, and my server was suddenly working like it was supposed to.
Which just goes to show you that even those of us who supposedly know what we’re doing have derp moments. 😉