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So which US ISP's support remote access without having to use a business account? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Seems this is something MS needs to consider when promoting the remote access capability of WHS. From posting on dslreports it seems Comcast also requires a business account to host a web server and where I live in Maryland Verozon DSL and Comcast are the only options I have. So I wonder since these are the dominant ISP's in the US how are people using remote access? Is the blocking of ports 80 and 443 my ISP'S something MS can compensate for by allowing some configuration changes in WHS? It seems like I will never be able to get the full benefit of my WHS without spending a lot more money for a feature I will use occasionaly.
    Friday, July 10, 2009 5:27 PM

Answers

  • First, realize that there are hundreds or thousands of ISPs in the US. There are a relatively small number of national or very large regional providers however, and those are what you're really asking about.

    Probably no ISP allows business use of a residential internet connection. Different ISPs have different terms of service, and some of those documents are more restrictive than others. Comcast in my area, for example, prohibits "public" servers on residential accounts. I have confirmed that Windows Home Server is not considered a "public" server according to my TOS. That is only applicable to my area; Comcast grew out of the mergers and acquisitions of many (dozens) smaller cable providers, and their internal policies in some cases still reflect this, so Comcast in your area probably has different policies.

    As a general rule, if your ISP blocks ports 80 and 443, then you can assume that they don't want you putting a server up on your connection. If you choose to do so anyway (possibly "circumventing the technical restrictions placed on your connection", which is another violation of the TOS/AUP), it's at your own risk. And that risk is potentially considerable, given that you're violating a contract with your ISP when you do so...

    As for Microsoft's responsibilities here, they would probably say (and I agree with them) that it's not their responsibility to make sure that your internet connection allows a server.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, July 10, 2009 5:53 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • First, realize that there are hundreds or thousands of ISPs in the US. There are a relatively small number of national or very large regional providers however, and those are what you're really asking about.

    Probably no ISP allows business use of a residential internet connection. Different ISPs have different terms of service, and some of those documents are more restrictive than others. Comcast in my area, for example, prohibits "public" servers on residential accounts. I have confirmed that Windows Home Server is not considered a "public" server according to my TOS. That is only applicable to my area; Comcast grew out of the mergers and acquisitions of many (dozens) smaller cable providers, and their internal policies in some cases still reflect this, so Comcast in your area probably has different policies.

    As a general rule, if your ISP blocks ports 80 and 443, then you can assume that they don't want you putting a server up on your connection. If you choose to do so anyway (possibly "circumventing the technical restrictions placed on your connection", which is another violation of the TOS/AUP), it's at your own risk. And that risk is potentially considerable, given that you're violating a contract with your ISP when you do so...

    As for Microsoft's responsibilities here, they would probably say (and I agree with them) that it's not their responsibility to make sure that your internet connection allows a server.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, July 10, 2009 5:53 PM
    Moderator
  • I'm going to have to disagree with you on MS's responsibilities in this. This is another component of their "Home" server that does not work in a typical home scenario, similar to the issue with remote desktop requiring a Professional version of Vista which is not the standard OS found on new pc's bought for the home (regardless of whether it is stated in the terms or not, does MS expect users who buy a new pc to have to then buy an OS upgrade to use one function?). MS should know (at least by now they should) what ports are likely to be blocked by an ISP and provide a way to easily change those ports so remote access can work. I would think the functions that WHS provides via remote access (file access, media streaming)  would be seen as different to hosting a web server that is sharing pages to the internet that could potentially have thoiusands of hits; in comparison remote access on a WHS is limited to the 10 users WHS allows. Why not have an option to define a different port since its just for the initial connection to the WHS logon page?

    Just seems like another area where a good product is let down my MS's inability to think outside the box.

    Friday, July 10, 2009 6:32 PM
  • Regarding which OS versions support remote desktop access, Microsoft's position is that the Windows Home Server team has no control over what feature is in any given SKU of a desktop operating system. That's the responsibility of the product planning and marketing group for that OS. The Windows Home Server team made use of capabilities built into the core OS for Windows Home Server to provide a "proxy" for Remote Desktop connections to home PCs, but the PCs themselves must support those connections. Perhaps different technology will be used in Windows Home Server V.Next? I don't know the answer to that, and to be honest probably wouldn't be able to share the information if I did.
       
    Please consider that whether your particular environment includes the features/configuration/legal rights required or not, Windows Home Server itself does support proxying remote desktop connections to home computers, and does support a remote access web site which allows access to files, etc. Just like all software, though, you have to be able to meet all the requirements to use all the features.

    If you want to proceed anyway, I'm pretty sure searching for "change port 80" in the forums here will give you plenty of help in changing your ports. Just be aware of the implications and consequences (legal and otherwise).

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, July 10, 2009 8:05 PM
    Moderator
  • My ISP, MediaCom, doesn't not block my WHS. I too can not run a public server at home or even work with the plan I have. When I first installed WHS I couldn't remote to my WHS and called my ISP to see if they blocked the ports needed and they informed me they do not. The tech guy I talked to said as long as I'm not severing up  public server or a torrent server or some other high bandwidth service on my WHS that MediaCom could care less or even notice it. He even informed that he at one time did serve a torrent server from his house and MediaCom never said anything to him about it or blocked his server. Once I figured out my router issues I am able to remote into my WHS. Sorry to hear your ISP doesn't play nice.
     
    I got to agree with Ken on this though. Since the ISP isn't Microsoft's they can not tell some other business how to run their business. Sad fact of life. Maybe you can find a different ISP or let it be known to your current ISP that if they don't work with you on this that you are in fact going to take your ball and play some where else.  

    Good luck getting this worked out.
     
    fasthair
    Friday, July 10, 2009 10:04 PM